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‘A Mighty Root’
J O H N H O W A R D in 2 Adventures by SAMUEL FINLAY
Sam sent me this work of pulp fiction in three parts. His hero, John Howard, an aging boxing coach, hoodrat whisperer and investigator of the weird gets his ass gutter stomped failing to fight off a pack of hoodrats. The first prologue is a taught 1,700 words and is well drawn in a moment of fictional time as the waylaid protagonist assesses his damage and quests up and out of the gutter he occupies.
My favorite line from the prologue is:
“The warmth of the dawn touched his face like a caress and he opened his eyes.”
The Second section John Howard and The Fell’s Point Haunting is a novelette length [7,816 words over 20 pages] adventure under shamdemic conditions, beginning with a standard disease notice, which seems to place this setting in the near future.
“With the light on her like that as her people went about the morning, Baltimore reminded John of some old city back in antiquity having been sacked in a war, yet life going on in spite of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
The character of Howard is physically worn and metaphysically conflicted, attending church in a state of tabooed resignation.
“…for him the Church; its rituals and formulas, bore in its makeup remnants from things older still; elements from before iron and written word that stirred the soul beyond itself to its Author.”
I write in much favor of Samuel Finlay’s fiction style. This is among the most entertaining and easy to immerse in, adventure fiction I’ve read.
Bob the barkeep and Stevedore Jackson the cook forever threatening to kick the John Howard’s ass-rather slice him like a lime—are in evidence and Mescaline Franklin has shown up for an urban safari! I grinned reading this, happy that my shenanigans back in Baltimore helped inform this peace of counter-culture pulp fiction.
Sam has done some bit of research concerning the setting evident to this reader as I get chills of recognition over some of the scenes. The insertion of Lynn Lockhart as cook catering to these urban heathens brought a smile over my face.
I have to quote one of my favorite scenes from page 6 of 20 before leaving off to avoid spoiling the story:
“John pointed and pitched his gravelly voice in imitation of a narrator in a wildlife documentary, “If you’ll look off to the right, you’ll see the Reparation Recovery Agent in his natural habitat. This is a particularly impressive specimen. Notice the reflexes and fine motor control as he dominates the wounded ATM. Notice the sheer will and determination with which he seeks to claim his prize. However, he must secure it from fellow predators. Will he succeed? Let’s see what happens.”
I’d have to say that Mescaline Franklin was done very well and that my favorite character created by the author has got to be Father Chad. The story reads like a postmodern Black Canaan and the horror elements are well-wrought and chilling. The combat is realistic and not too technical to impede the flow but mechanically described well enough to please the fighting man who might read it.
Thanks Sam.
Lynn, if you plan on publishing Sam’s fiction it would be in fair-play to include it in The Filthy Few, since I’m using him as a character in that.
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