Saturday, 27 April 2019
One Man's Opinion: GUILLOTINE by PAUL HEATLEY
I was fortunate enough to be asked to edit this for All Due Respect and, as can happen when a book is written with high quality and significant emotional stakes, it really was a labour of love.
Lou-Lou has finally broken free of her father, local gangster Big Bobby Joe. He's a scary guy with a twisted mind and a thirst for violence. Losing Lou-Lou is itself a blow, but the fact that she's eloping with her black boyfriend adds a further dimension that means no stone is going to be unturned in order to get her back.
Bobby Joe puts out a bounty on the couple and the lowlife of the area crawl out of the woodwork to try and earn a buck. Among them is drug snorter Tommy who arranges to meet with Mikey, the Guillotine of the title. Mikey's trademark is serving up heads on platters and Tommy reckons he knows just how they can team up a and split Joe's sixty-thousand dollars.
Mikey's not interested in the deal. He carries a small torch for Lou-Lou himself and they'd have made a good fit if they'd managed to stick together when they first hit it off.
The story unfolds to become increasingly claustrophobic. Lou-Lou's hope turns into desperate defiance, Mikey's disengagement with the world is put on hold, Tommy takes things further than he could ever have imagined and Big Bobby Joe simply gets meaner and more spiteful the more we get to know him.
The storyline is strong and nicely plotted, adding tension gradually while never losing sight of the motivations of the key characters. There's plenty of action to keep things moving, yet there are also some great introspective set-pieces where the exploration of fear and pain is fully mined.
Guillotine's sharp and exciting as well as being moving and powerful. I recommend this as compelling noir that's definitely a cut above.
Guillotine US UK