Review: Psychosomatic


Anthony Neil Smith


Because Lydia didn’t have arms or legs, she shelled out three thousand bucks to a washed up middleweight named Cap to give her ex-husband the beating of his life.  But the beating turns to murder, and the murder into lust and desperation between Lydia and an underworld clean-up man. Meanwhile, overgrown frat boy car thieves take up cop killing as a side hobby. When these paths cross, a horror show of violence unfolds as they all slide into a hell of their own design, surrounded by the neon and noise of the casino strip on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Violent, vivid, life at hyper-speed. This debut novel from the editor of Plots with Guns is a noir nightmare that asks how much is too much in a relationship, and what is the cost of leaving? Ken Bruen calls it “the darkest song I’ve ever read”.


Wow, just wow. I read this on my phone over the last few weeks, here and there every time I had to wait for something like the bus. I got used to people shooting me sidelong glances because I was chortling out loud or wincing with empathetic pain or just shaking my head. This book is the literary equivalent of psychobilly music: weird, backwoods, southern, rocking mayhem of head-shaking madness. A legless coquette who wraps men around her phantom finger, frat boy heavies who develop a mutually needy symbiotic relationship, would-be drug dealers and a gothy would-be drug moll clash in ill-founded madness and mundane violence. Everybody’s got a plan and nobody really knows what’s going on. They’re all screwballs and mostly terrible people and yet you start to root for them some of the time, even as things knot into a mad whirl of hurt and blindly stupid schemes that can’t help but fail and maybe just maybe — nah, it’s all going to end badly. But what a trip. So here’s some Royale Brothers to give you a soundtrack for it. It’s 99¢ — get it, you cheapskate (just click the image above).


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