In a welcome stylistic return to form, Nick Cutter (Craig Davidson) cooks up a tale that feels something like if Sergio Leone’s the Good, the Bad and the Ugly butted up against Stephen King’s It.
Three contract Wild West-ish killers/collectors come together with bullets flying, but find themselves grouped for survival and in such a way that offers a short-lived buddy comedy vibe. The threesome is morally ambiguous, leaning into criminally apathetic, but only until the author needs it to be otherwise. These aren’t easy characters to like, despite their underlying hearts of pyrite. Courageous, hard headed
and purchased on the cheap, and for any old task, keeps the instilled compassion low.
Dusty trails, big rocks and thick woods, the trio, employed by a woman to seek out her nephew. While trudging through the wilds, the floor falls out and they’re quickly, and easily, disarmed and hanging with the parishioners of Little Heaven.
Religious nuttiness leads the parishioners of Little Heaven to mental and physical decay as they are in range of something otherworldly. A savior to this story. Creepy crawlies parade the landscape and bodies, claiming unrelenting ownership of all within reach. There’s a vampyric vibe to the gathering of innocents for the slaughter. There’s that hard-edged 70s sense about the monsters of Little Heaven that feel more campfire fable than horror-flick shocker. Rather than pulling from thin air, the author pulled from the countryside and pounded together attributes. So many traits and their descriptions gathered images and sensations, readily blooming on the mind’s eye. The New Mexico countryside offered a rich stock list for the picking. Keeping the link between surreal and reality allowed the easy leaps of imagination to play forward without any strain on the eyes or the head.
Though this is the longest Cutter book thus far, but carries no more meat than any others. The extra feels mostly padding, perhaps this is a direct result of giving his characters histories . Little Heaven is a dark horror that wanes in the middle, but makes a real comeback when the monsters reveal their natures, spindly-legged and baby-faced alike. Dark, grim and suspenseful once rolling, though perhaps too little too late.