Well, even if there is no “fuck in the sky” that hates Moses’ ass, there are plenty of people right here on terra firma ready to step up and fill that role. It’s not that Moses tries to piss people off, he just can’t help it.
As he remarks at one point in Out There Bad, Josh Stallings’ mind-blowingly spectacular follow up to Beautiful, Naked & Dead, “You know me, if there’s any shit in a ten mile radius, I will step in it.” And, oh my, has Moses stepped in it this time.
When we last saw forty-three year old suicidal strip club bouncer Moses McGuire his life looked like it had finally turned a corner. He’d avenged the death of his best friend and, along the way, fallen in love with her twin sister. Off to Baja they went to settle down and live happily ever after. Yeah, well, life doesn’t work like that for Moses.
As Out There Bad opens Moses is once again alone and working as a bouncer in that same old strip club in LA. When a misunderstanding – one involving a patron’s broken jaw and ribs – lands Moses temporarily out of a job he decides to go hit another strip club and see how things are going on the other side of town. And that’s when Moses’ cosmically bad karma kicks into high gear.
A few drinks and one lap dance later and Moses once again finds himself falling hard for a beautiful stripper with a sad story. Lured to America by promises of legitimate employment and the American dream, instead she and many of her countrywomen have found themselves trapped in a life of stripping and prostitution. Even worse, her thirteen-year-old sister has fallen prey to the same scam and is somewhere in Mexico being “prepared” for her life as a sex slave before being shipped on to LA. Saddle up, folks, because Moses is headed for Mexico and things are gonna get rough.
Josh Stallings’ debut Beautiful, Naked & Dead completely rocked my world. It was blatantly obvious from literally the first page of that book that Stallings has serious skills. I was confident I would not be disappointed with its follow up, but I honestly could not have envisioned how much farther Stallings would be able to take things. Though only one book removed from his debut, Out There Bad nevertheless shows that Stallings is not only confident with what he’s doing, but that he’s settling even further into his amazing groove as a writer.
The complexity and depth that make Moses more than just some big brute running amok are once again on display. Warrior though he is, it’s not the physical beatings and hardships – and make no mistake about it, Stallings puts Moses through quite the grinder – that leave the lasting scars on Moses. No, it’s the psychological damage than Moses endures which is what truly shapes him as a man. Even those who seek to physically destroy Moses come to understand that, as one particularly motivated torturer has a revelation about the true best way to get Moses to crack:
“Do you know what is the great motivator? Not fear, no. Guilt. Pain fades and must be re-administered. Guilt can break a person for life.”
Josh Stallings is the real fucking deal. He started off hot with Beautiful, Naked & Dead, has downshifted into blazing in Out There Bad, and god only knows where we’re gonna end up in Moses’ next outing, One More Body. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re all going “Straight to Hell.” (Read the book and you’ll get that joke. )