I’m pleased to be kicking off the blog tour for Andy Rausch’s Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties today. Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book.
“RIDING SHOTGUN AND OTHER AMERICAN CRUELTIES is a unique collection of quirky, Tarantinoesque crime novellas, representing three very different sub-genres. In the first story, “Easy-Peezy,” a band of elderly Old West bank robbers return to their wicked ways robbing banks in the 1930s John Dillinger era. The second story, “Riding Shotgun,” is a bitter tale about a man pushed to the limits of human endurance and forced to take up arms to protect those he loves. The third tale, “$crilla,” is an urban crime fantasy in which a fledgling hip-hop group kidnaps a record mogul in the hopes of finally making the kind of loot they’ve always dreamed of.”
Something completely different on the blog today as I talk about Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties by Andy Rausch. This is a book containing three standalone, crime novellas that are unconnected except by one common theme. I’m not going to tell you what that is, because I don’t want to include any spoilers in the review but once you’ve read it, email me and tell me what you think links the stories. I’ll give you a little clue – once I’d finished this book, I thought it should have had a different title but I guess it would have been too similar to another book that was popular last year. Intrigued now, aren’t you?
I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I started reading this book and whether I was going to enjoy it, not being a fan of gratuitous violence for the sake of it, but in fact I absolutely loved the book, it was a real joy to read. Rausch’s writing style is very fast-paced and in your face and it just carried me along from page to page. The stories themselves were cleverly plotted and I got a real kick from the premise behind each of them. I’m not going to rehash the plots here as you can get the gist from reading the blurb above but they are all very original and smart and I was intrigued by each of them for different reasons. If I had to sum up the plots in a single line I would say ‘Easy-Peezy’ could have the sub-title ‘Once a bank robber, always a bank robber’ and ‘$crilla’ is the perfect example of the old adage ‘Money is the root of all evil’. I think my favourite story though was the middle one, ‘Riding Shotgun’. It was very detailed and I really liked all of the characters, which is odd since my particular favourite was a totallly heartless Italian mobster, but Andy managed to give him a winning personality somehow. I’d sum it up by saying, ‘It’s always the quiet ones you have to look out for’.
There is a lot of violence in the books, but it is so extreme that it is almost comedic. It’s the literary equivalent of watching a Robert Rodriguez movie and did not make me squeamish at all. The language is also ripe; the stories are full of words you wouldn’t say in front of your granny unless your granny is also Quentin Tarantino’s granny, so if that kind of thing offends you, this book is not for you. However, if you love Tarantino, you’ll love this book. You can tell throughout that Rausch also writes screenplays as the scenes are very cinematic and you can see how they would play out beautifully in technicolour on a big screen.
If I had a couple of very small niggles about this book they would be these. First, there were a couple of places where some of the descriptions seemed a little clunky to me; not quite slick. However, I would put this down to possibly the screenplay aspect of writing coming out where descriptions are not for reading but for seeing and this was only in a couple of places. My second niggle was I did wonder where the Average Joe protagonist in story two got some of his sudden mad skills from, as he was doing things that I had no idea why he would know how to do. Was it Google? However, he was a crime writer so i guess maybe he had researched them for one of his books. Since the whole premise of the story and the others in the book are so outlandish and improbable, this really doesn’t matter in any event and none of this detracted in the slightest from my enjoyment of the book.
This is not a book I would ever have picked up in a store or online, as from the cover and the blurb I just would not have pegged it as something I would enjoy but it just goes to show how wrong you can be and that setting assumptions aside and stepping outside of your normal genre choices can reap great rewards. I want to thank Rachel Gilbey, and the author and publisher for giving me the opportunity to experience a great book that I otherwise would have missed out on.
Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties is out now and you can buy a copy here.
To follow the rest of the tour, see the details below:
About the Author
Andy Rausch is a a freelance film journalist, author, and celebrity interviewer. He has published more than twenty books on the subject of popular culture, including The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Making Movies with Orson Welles (with Gary Graver), and The Cinematic Misadventures of Ed Wood (with Charles E. Pratt, Jr.). His work has appeared in Shock Cinema, both Screem and Scream magazines, Senses of Cinema, Diabolique, Creative Screenwriting, Film Threat, Bright Lights Film Journal, and Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture. He has written several works of fiction including Mad World, Elvis Presley: CIA Assassin, Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties, and the short story collection Death Rattles. He has also worked as a screenwriter, producer, and actor on numerous straight-to-video horror films.
Connect with Andy:
Goodreads: Andy Rausch