I'm familiar with Adam Howe and James Newman's work, and I know what they are compable of. I also know they're both wrestling fans. I'm a huge 80s and 90s wrestling fan. So, when I started reading SCAPEGOAT, I thought I was going to be ring side at Wrestlemania III. You know, the one where Hulk Hogan body slams Andre the Giant, sending Hulkamania into a frenzy. But I got an even better experience than that with SCAPEGOAT. An experience only Howe and Newman can concoct.
Three friends, Mike Rawson, Lonnie Deveraux, Pork Chop, and Cindi, a random bar girl, take a thrilling RV road trip to Wrestlemania III. There's more to the bar girl than meets the eye. The guys dip into the drugs and alcohol and take an ill-conceived detour through the backwoods of Kentucky. It doesn't take long for them to get lost in the sticks. To make matters worse, Lonnie accidentally runs over a lady running for her life. The guys find themselves in a bleek situation. The lady is carved up with the seven deadly sins. The guys check on her, and find themselves in the sights of her captors. It turns out, the men chasing her are local redneck cultists and she is their sacrificial scapegoat. I didn't know what a sacrificial scapegoat was until I read this book. My mind exploded, folks. Things get worse for our protagonists. They are thrown into the bowels of the backwoods town. The cult comprises the townsfolk and nowhere is safe.
SCAPEGOAT is an engrossing read. Adam Howe and James Newman do a splendid job of creating an ultra-violent hillbilly horror story. Even though Adam Howe is British, he still vividly captures the Kentucky backcountry. James Newman brings the empathy. He makes you empathize with the deranged hicks. And there's a good reason for their unhinged and off-kilter behavior.
You will want to slice out a good hour or two to read this one. SCAPEGOAT grabs you by the collar and refuses to let go until you've turned the last page. From start to finish, there's not a dull moment in this book. The story is brutal and the ending is devastating. Just when you think the worst is behind the protagonists, Howe and Newman pour on the gore. There were times when I had to shut the book, so I could regain my composure. SCAPEGOAT is a fierce read.
Don't forget to read the author's notes. There's some great stuff in there, guys. There's also a great playlist to SCAPEGOAT. I've been listening to those songs all afternoon whilst writing this review.
If you've never read either author, then SCAPEGOAT is a great place to start reading. Howe and Newman keep getting better with every release. I look forward to reading their future work.