Rattlesnake Kisses by Bob Ford and John Boden

Rattlesnake Kisses by Bob Ford and John Boden

Review by Kit Power

Regular readers will know I am a long time fan of John Boden’s work; his combination of dark, blue collar grit with a vivid and poetic turn of phrase mark him out as a unique, powerful, and necessary voice in genre fiction. I very much enjoyed his co-authored piece Out Behind The Barn with Chad Lutzke, and I was interested in seeing what influence Bob Ford (who is new to me) would have on that voice.

Rattlesnake Kisses concerns Dallas, a hitman, and The Kid, his young protege (whose relationship is as much father/son as mentor/mentee) who get hold of what seems like a very simple job in a small southern town. Events escalate, complicate, and ultimately end up spiraling entirely out of control, as cross and double cross, dirty lawmen, and conflicted personal loyalties lead to conformation and explosive violence.

The voice is grittier and somewhat coarser than I’ve come to expect from Boden, but that’s not meant as a criticism; on the contrary, the harsher tone fits like a glove with this muddy, bloody tale. This is James Ellroy level dark crime fiction, with everyone involved operating on the ‘grey to black’ end of the moral scale. More than one of the characters in this tale have been consumed entirely by their own demons; spite, greed, lust; and all the rest are somewhere on the slippery slope, drawing lines in the sand they can’t know they’ll be able to hold. That said, there’s still the odd Boden flourish in the prose, which serves brilliantly to accentuate the overall grimness of the tale.

As such, this is jet black crime noir; well paced, thrilling, which delivers a very satisfying escalation of dread. At its core, it’s also a story of fathers, sons, and regrets; Dallas and The Kid both have their issues; and both have moral codes that sit uneasy with their chosen professions. It’s a touching relationship, which, given the genre, gives the whole tale the inevitable tone of tragedy, as well as providing the reader with some much needed emotional engagement in what is otherwise a dark slice of nasty populated with some remarkably unlikable characters.

Rattlesnake Kisses held me captive from first word to last, and represents an ideal of jet black grim and gritty crime fiction. Recommended.

KP

14/11/2020

Rattlesnake Kisses by Bob Ford and John Boden

Dallas is a man seasoned by both time and circumstance—a fellow you hire to get certain things done. The kind of man you definitely don’t want to cross.

The Kid is his protégé—his younger shadow with more quirks than Dewey’s System has decimals. He’s loyal as a hound and just as likely to bite.

After being hired for a seemingly easy job, Dallas and the Kid find themselves on a wild ride. Every stop they make introduces lies, violence and memories best left buried. When the control Dallas holds so near and dear starts to squirm free, things get ugly. The routine becomes anything but, and revenge is a bloody dish best served with a .45 pistol.

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  • Jim Mcleod

    Jim "The Don" Mcleod has been reading horror for over 35 years, and reviewing horror for over 16 years. When he is not spending his time promoting the horror genre, he is either annoying his family or mucking about with his two dogs Casper and Molly.

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