THE PULP REVIEW: The Cleanup by John Skipp & Craig Spector

Billy Rowe is a down-on-his-luck muso, living one day at a time at the expense of the people around him, namely model/ actress girlfriend, Mona, and loud-mouthed roomie, Larry. When he witnesses a murder one night, Billy’s life changes forever: an angel offers him the chance to fight back, to make something of himself, to tap into the power that he’s destined to wield, and Billy accepts. Now Billy’s like the second son of God, able to do just about anything, and Mona and Larry and all of Billy’s friends and all of the helpless in society have nothing to fear anymore. Nothing, that is, except Billy.

Skipp & Spector’s second outing, after the mind blowing vamp novel, LIGHT AT THE END, does not disappoint. Written in 1987, it’s hard not to see it as a blend of 70s/80s heroes and anti-heroes, such as Michael from the impossibly saccharine HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN and Clint Eastwood’s DIRTY HARRY. But it’s a coming of age story about young people trying to make their dreams come true in the Big Apple, just as much as a vigilante story. And the lines blur much more wildly than anything TV had to offer back then; the antagonist veering between a well drawn out serial killer and Billy Rowe’s own darker self.

This is an emotional novel; it would be hard not to become invested in the characters, in their hopes and fears and misguided loyalties – often with dire consequences. For me, these strong character drivers form the heart of this work and certainly give clout to the payout at the story’s conclusion.

I’m a latecomer to Skipp & Spector but with gems like this on offer, I’m pretty much signed up for everything the guys have put out there. I loved this book every bit as much as I loved LIGHT AT THE END. It’s hard to offer any criticism at all. Everything you need is here: the story, the characters, the sharp-witted writing – all second to none.

This is horror at its absolute best.

 

THE CLEANUP is available now from Crossroad Press.