|The Black Sun Set
||[Jul. 14th, 2010|02:59 pm]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
Burning Effigy Press' latest chapbook release is The Black Sun Set by leethomas, and it's a treat both for fans of Lee Thomas' impressive horror oeuvre and fans of noir-horror mash-ups. (Should we start calling this noirror? Someone get Tom Piccirilli on the line!)
Buster is a Mob enforcer whose personal life is as broken as the kneecaps of the deadbeats he routinely brutalizes on the orders of his boss, Mr. Hoffman. He's lost; his wife has left him, taking their two sons with her, and he no longer takes any pleasure in his work. In fact, there are only two things he seems to live for anymore, his dog Baz and Barbara Hoffman, his boss's wife, on whom he has an almost schoolboyish crush. Luckily, his boss trusts Buster enough to assign him to watch over her while he's out of town. Buster knows better than to make a move on Barbara, or even flirt with her, but being around her makes him feel alive again, even if he has to keep his attraction to her locked away in his fantasies.
Unfortunately for Buster, he finds himself on Barbara babysitting duty on exactly the wrong night. Someone has broken into the house, a bald bruiser with a penchant for expensive suits and lethal throwing knives, and he's looking for something very valuable, and very unusual: the six pieces of an ancient artifact called the Black Sun. Once those pieces are joined and the set complete, the Black Sun could become a powerful and dangerous mystical object, bestowing its owner with unlimited control over life, death, time--everything. Buster isn't about to let that happen, but with betrayal and brutality around every corner, stopping the theft of the Black Sun set isn't as easy as it sounds.
What I found most interesting about The Black Sun Set is that for all its noirish trappings, the story is far more of a character piece than a plot-driven one. By the time I finished this brief, 43-page novella, I felt like I knew much more about Buster than I did about the Black Sun, its arcane history and the cultists looking for it--and that, to me, is as it should be. Too much backstory on the Black Sun would weigh the story down like a soggy sweater, but the backstory on Buster worked like a charm and kept me turning the pages, engrossed. He's a morally ambiguous, interesting character in a moral ambiguous, interesting situation, and that always makes for good stories.
It's great to see Thomas turning his capable hand to the hardboiled. I think noir and horror go together very well (I've done it a lot myself, from stories like "The Dead Stay Dead" and "The Jew of Prague" to my Bram Stoker Award-nominated novella General Slocum's Gold, also from Burning Effigy Press) and I'm very happy to see someone of Thomas' immense talent joining the fun.
The Black Sun Set is a thrilling, chilling noir piece that, in typical Lee Thomas fashion, takes the reader down the supernatural rabbit hole. It's a trip you'll enjoy.