by Ty Schwamberger
Bad Moon Books
One of the first things I learned about Ty Schwamberger when I stumbled across his blog a few years back was the fact he is a fan of Richard Laymon's work. And I dare say that the influence rings quite strong in this intense novella.
Dawn is on a road trip with her two best friends, making their way to Las Vegas in her brand new car that her daddy bought her, when they run afoul of a good ol' boy in a pickup truck on a lonely dirt road. She suspected trouble when she saw the fella jump into his truck when she and her friends left a roadside diner to follow them, then she knew for sure when her friends let her know they'd pulled a dine-and-dash back at the diner. Things go from bad to worse when the truck runs them off the road, when the fella steps out of the truck with a shotgun. What follows is a relentless and outright gruesome night of terror for Dawn.
I don't think I'm spoiling much by saying her friends are shot fairly early in the story. It's with that first shotgun blast that the tone of the story is firmly established. I mean, after Dawn's two friends get shot up along with her new car, the story really takes a turn after the killer chases her into the night.
Grim and graphic, Dinin' is not for the fainthearted. There's even a scene late in the story that made me a little squeamish. If there's a weak spot in the tale, it comes from really failing to connect with Dawn as the story unfolds. I think it might have been the damsel vibe I got from her early on, but she does take matters into her own hands and turns into a self-saving damsel by the end. There was just something missing from her that had me fully in her corner.
I got a bit of a Wolf Creek or a Wrong Turn (sans mutants) kind of vibe from the story. Bloody, unapologetic violence with little sign of escape. If you dig that kind of stuff, you should check this one out, but if you want something more subtle, you won't find it here.