OK, first things first. Though the title of Eric Beetner’s novella comes from that old proverb about digging two graves before starting on a journey of revenge, it is a bit misleading… a hell of a lot more than two graves are gonna be needed by the time all’s said and done in this story of a man determined to extract his pound of flesh from the one who betrayed him.
After serving three years for a gas station hold-up gone wrong, Val gets out of prison with two revelations. First, the key to successful crime is massive planning and not biting off more than you can chew. Second, well, he kinda fell in love while he was inside. With a guy. So much so that when his new jailhouse friend, Ernesto, is released shortly after Val they pick up with their relationship. Val’s not sure whether that makes him queer, but he’s damn sure he doesn’t want his wife to find out about it.
Turns out his wife finding out he’s cheating on her with another man is the least of Val’s worries. No, more pressing are the cops at his door, the ones who couldn’t possibly be there unless someone ratted out Val’s new bank robbing scheme – one that had been working out quite successfully, thank you very much – to the cops. Problem is, the only other person who knows about the operation is Ernesto. And so, fueled both by the heaviness of a broken heart and the fury of betrayal, Val heads out to find Ernesto and settle the score in what unfolds as a frenetic night of escalating violence and dwindling options.
The novella format is absolutely custom fit for Val’s tale, as it’s long enough to give Val time to have meaningful character development and reflection on his motivations and actions, but short enough to allow the story to rocket along at a blistering pace over the course of one very intense night. Author Eric Beetner ratchets the tension to levels that are virtually palpable, but also knows just when to give both Val and the reader a little break, doing so with perfectly placed doses of sarcasm and pitch-black humor. Indeed, as brought to life by the skilled hand of Beetner, Val ends up being an incredibly engaging and surprisingly sympathetic figure considering he’s basically a cheating husband, ex-con, current fugitive, and increasingly irrational man bent on violent revenge. And while revenge may be a dish best served cold, Dig Two Graves is smoking hot.
Dig Two Graves is available from Snubnose Press.
PS – Be sure to check out Eric’s guest post, as well as the very clever trailer for Dig Two Graves below.