I picked up this novelette after hearing good things about it from a crime fiction reviewer I respect. I don’t read a lot of crime/noir but at a little over 40 pages, Skull Meat wasn’t to be a huge investment in my time. I’m sure glad I did pick it up. I had little intention of reading the story the night I bought it, however, I had a quick look at the first page and I was all in.
Skull Meat is dark, gritty, violent and really well-written. The characters are great despite their limited time on the page and each one is given a memorable name. The story follows protagonist, Joe Rey. Joe is a small-town fixer, a tough guy hired to sort out problems. His latest assignment comes with a few complications. A game of cat and mouse ensues as Rey darts around the seedy seaside town of Paignton bloodying his fists and making enemies.
There is a lot to like about this short story from Leins. As I said earlier, the writing is very good, perfectly suited to the story, pacing is fast (as you’d expect from a short story) but it doesn’t feel rushed. The violence is realistic and gritty, the dialogue even more so. I couldn’t put this story down. I have read it again since and so I’m upping my 4 star Goodreads mark to 5.
Kudos to Leins for the Type O Negative references, too. One of my favourite bands.
5/5 fractured skulls from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.