Are you ready for a Halloween treat? I hope so, because author Chris F. Holm sure has some goodies ready for your reading pleasure. In 8 Pounds: Eight Tales of Crime, Horror, & Suspense Holm serves up eight wonderfully entertaining short stories that will have you up late into the night reading, and leave you hungry for more. Though every story in the collection is a home run, there were a few standouts for me.
“Seven Days of Rain” starts the collection off, and right away you know you’re in for something special: “There’s men’s plans and then there’s God’s plans, and it looks for damn sure like God don’t think much of mine.” So thinks Eddie Hanscombe, a man whose plan 60 years ago was to bury something, literally and figuratively, and be done with it. During a biblical seven day rain, however, Eddie comes to understand nothing about the past is ever really buried, and that God always has the last laugh.
“The World Behind” also deals with the past. Timothy Hewitt was a shy, fearful kid in the summer of 1986, one who let his fear drive him down a path that forever changed his life. He took to hiding in the woods that summer to avoid a bully that had it in for him and, as the adult Timothy reflects, it was in those woods he discovered who he really was… as well as what had been happening to all the animals that were disappearing from homes around town. “The World Behind” is a wonderful coming of age story, albeit with a slightly ominous undertone.
“The Toll Collectors” is probably my favorite story in the collection, though saying that is a bit like picking a “favorite” child. A marvelously atmospheric horror story, “The Toll Collectors” finds professional thug-for-hire Ray McDaniel traveling a dark, lonely stretch of interstate on his way home after a particularly nasty job. I don’t want to ruin the story, so suffice it to say that before the night is over Ray ends up not so alone and owing a toll that can’t be paid with money.
Other stories include “A Better Life” (a seemingly innocuous tale of man vs. mouse that will level you with a gut-punch of an ending), “A Simple Kindness” (proving that no good deed goes unpunished), “The Well” (shortest of the bunch, and the one most likely to make your jaw drop and skin crawl), “Eight Pounds” (the title story, which finds two bar buddies discussing the weight, and worth, of a human head… but to what end?), and “The Big Score” (in which a New England lobsterman catches more than he bargained for).
Holm has put together in 8 Pounds a tight, gripping collection of stories that flow seamlessly from one to the next even though each definitely has its own distinct feel and flavor. You get a little bit of horror, a little bit of crime fiction, a little bit of suspense, and a whole lot of top-notch storytelling.
But you know the best thing about 8 Pounds? It can be yours for only $0.99! You’ve got more than that in your sofa cushions or tossed in your car’s ashtray. So what are you waiting for? Put some of that change that’s just lying around to work and treat yourself to eight kickass stories. Not only will you be thoroughly entertained, but in the (near) future when he’s insanely famous you’ll be able to gloat by saying you knew about Chris F. Holm back in the day. 😉