The Severed Nose by Jeff Strand

The Third Rail by Michael Harvey“When you kill people for a living, you get used to finding the occasional body part lying around your home. I do not kill people for a living, and so I freaked.” – Josh White

Josh White is the victim of what may be the worst case of mistaken identity in history. Arriving home one day to find a severed human nose on his kitchen table Josh does what any reasonable person would do… freak out. Of course once the initial, understandable freak out passes Josh proceeds to make the first in what will end up being a comically tragic series of bad decisions.

Instead of immediately calling the police, Josh decides to store the nose in his refrigerator – after carefully wrapping it in paper towels and sealing it in a plastic baggie – to keep it from rotting while he puzzles out whose nose it could be and why it was on his table. After much deliberation he… falls asleep.

When he returns home from work the following day – no, he didn’t call the police when he woke up – Josh finds an ear on his table. Apparently having reached his tipping point on finding severed body parts in his apartment, Josh calls 911 to report his gruesome discoveries. When the police haven’t shown up by bedtime, despite a follow up call from Josh, he puts the ear in the baggie with the nose and decides to… go to sleep.

Arriving home from work yet again Josh finds… nothing. Which is good, right? Wrong. Because the people who’ve been leaving the fleshy calling cards for Josh decide to pay him a visit to find out why he’s not responded to their none to subtle overtures. The body parts, it turns out, were left as part of a kidnapping and ransom demand directed at Josh White… another Josh White. Not sure whether or not they should kill him, the two gangsters who show up at his apartment kidnap Josh and take him back to the big boss for his decision on the matter. What unfolds from there could only happen in a Jeff Strand novel.

After successfully negotiating his release, instead of washing his hands of the matter Josh continues his poor decision making and decides it’s his responsibility to track down the proper Josh White. This, of course, does not go as planned and Josh ends up in a downward spiral of events that include: being kidnapped again by the two gangsters, who take him along on another kidnapping mission; finding the proper Josh White, who turns out to be rather homicidal himself; being blamed by the noseless, earless kidnap victim Chester, brother of the proper Josh, for losing his nose; the arrival, a day after the fact, of a decidedly creepy cop; and the participation of Josh’s unbalanced downstairs neighbor, Preston, who beyond all belief manages to take matters from bad to worse.

Don’t let the whimsical cover art by Melanie McVey, whose drawings are also featured in the novella, fool you. While the situations Josh finds himself in may be comical by nature of their sheer outrageousness, this is a Jeff Strand book after all, there is some fairly serious violence in The Severed Nose. It is, however, mixed in with a heaping helping of the wickedly dark humor that has become Jeff Strand’s calling card. So if you like your humor with a side of violence, or vice versa, give the The Severed Nose a try. It won’t even cost you an arm or a leg.

Jeff Strand is the author of over a dozen books, including Pressure, Gleefully Macabre Tales, Wolf Hunt, The Sinister Mr. Corpse, Mandibles, Dweller, Benjamin’s Parasite, Fangboy, The Severed Nose, Draculas (with F. Paul Wilson, Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch), Kutter, and the Andrew Mayhem series among others. To learn more about Jeff, visit his website.

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