Book Review: The Kill Crew by Joseph D’Lacey
Editor’s note: Let’s all applaud Tim Clark on his first Icons of Fright article, a nicely written review of Joseph D’Lacey’s novella The Kill Crew. You’ll be reading lots more from this talented Icons staffer in the near future. Congratulations, Tim! –P.F.
The post-apocalyptic thriller, for lack of a better description, always proves to be fertile ground to unleash unforgettable characters that endure hair-raising situations in order to live another day. From I Am Legend to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, these beloved yarns are typically weaved with a healthy dose of social commentary that forces the viewer or reader to take a long, hard look at what the world has become – or could become (gulp!). Joseph D’Lacey’s recent novella The Kill Crew stays true to these conventions while adding a few unique twists and turns. Is it worth your time and money? You betcha.
Barricaded into a city block called The Station, two hundred people have survived the apocalypse. Was it a bomb? A biological attack? Phase one of an invasion? No one really knows. What is known is that The Station is under constant threat and each day a lottery decides the seven members of The Kill Crew – a night shift of civilian soldiers with one simple mission: Extermination.
The extermination is aimed squarely at the once-human “Commuters”, who are now infected with something that has forced them to go crazy and attack the normal folk. What’s different about the Commuters compared to, say, the traditional Romero-like zombie is that this posse can emote. They long for something that has been taken from them and have no problem wailing, crying or weeping as they tear you to pieces. And the Kill Crew, aka, the “Stoppers” have become experts at disposing of them by “popping” them in the head with some pretty impressive firepower.
The unofficial leader of the Kill Crew is Sheri Foley, a tough-as-nails, take-no-prisoners kinda gal that sports two pump action shotguns, affectionately named Kane and Abel. She also carries the Paramedic – a .38 snub nosed used on fellow Stoppers for “total anesthesia.”
The story is told primarily through Sheri’s eyes and it’s not a pretty one. Vegetation has been choked out and nearly replaced by a blackened, deathly plant life. A faint, mysterious green glow is ever present during the Kill Crew’s night time excursions, when the Commuters like to make themselves known. It’s a simple, yet very eerie backdrop for a cool story like this to unfold.
While we get to experience what it’s like to survive a few head-popping, adrenaline-fueled excursions with the Kill Crew, (trust me on this, they are very intense) D’Lacey smartly avoids lingering on over-the-top gore and shocks to deliver a few nice twists and turns along the way. This comes to fruition about 3/4ths into the book when Sheri and fellow survivors Ike and Trixie stock up a Humvee-like ride and leave the now threatened safety of the Station. Miles and miles away from their sanctuary, the group finds out that rest of the world is just as messed up as the one they left. While the constant threat of the Commuters isn’t as much of a concern, plenty of other things are. I won’t divulge any more details because you should experience these twisted and heartbreaking developments on your own.
If I have one problem with The Kill Crew it’s a selfish one: I want more. At 77 pages, D’Lacey has crafted one lean and mean tale sprinkled with unforgettable characters and a robust storyline that could easily continue for a few more volumes. I hope he gets the opportunity to do so. If you feel the same way after reading The Kill Crew make sure you let the publisher www.stonegarden.net know loud and clear. And don’t forget to check out Joseph D’Lacey’s other work, Meat and The Garbage Man which I also highly recommend.
— Tim Clark