The Licking Valley Coon Hunters Club
by Brian Hopkins
(Yard Dog Press, 2000. ISBN 9-781893-687080.)
I've become familiar with Brian A. Hopkins' work through his short stories in his CD-ROM anthology Flesh Wounds and from various sites around the web. I recommend the magnificent 'Five Days in April' set in the aftermath of the Oklahoma bombing (currently residing at gothic.net), one of the best short stories I have ever read.
This new novella from Yard Dog Press probably boasts the finest title too, and features Hopkin's dysfunctional detective Martin Zolotow who has already appeared in several Hopkins/David Niall Wilson collaborative shorts, pursuing the changeling Kat, feline hunter of serial killers, across America. Either with Wilson or on his own, Hopkins delivers a fine and consistently readable hybrid of hard-boiled and horror, perhaps the closest comparison being an urbanised Joe Lansdale.
This is modern American fiction at its best. No surprise then, that it is residing mainly in the small press.
In The Licking Valley Coon Hunters Club, Zolotow comes up against a bizarre hybrid of vampirism, conspiracy, biotechnology, gangsters and sex, is consistently beaten to a pulp in the finest tradition of hard-boiled, but always manages a wisecrack, saving the day and (usually) getting the girl.
I recently had my own book reviewed in Interzone with the description "...a refreshing lack of gravitas". I use the same pretension on Brian Hopkins now. Brian, we say 'arse' to gravitas, and you just know you would enjoy sharing a beer with this guy. My round, Brian! One for the hairy-knuckled reader.
Recommended, of course!
Review by Noel K Hannan.
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© Noel K Hannan 2 December 2000