“Uh-huh. So. You asked me, now I’ll ask you: what’s it like to be you?”

“It’s fine,” she says, plodding along. “Pretty boring.”

He rolls his eyes. “Oh. Sure. I bet. The town of Dullsville, population: You.”

“Now you’re just being sarcastic. That’s not cute at all. My Daddy used to say, Darlin’, sarcasm is the first refuge of bitter men.

“Well I say that sarcasm is a mini-mansion in the middle of Awesome-Town and there’s a pool and a room filled with puppies and a kitchen with granite countertops and a double-oven. And a cabana boy named Steve.” He walks in front of her and puts his hands on her shoulders, an act which earns him a malevolent stare. Even still he doesn’t pull away and instead says, “Atlanta Burns, you need to understand something. People are in awe of what you did. Jaw-dropping, pants-shitting awe.”

I’m up to my eyeballs in work, so this is going to be a quick capsule review (the alternative is none at all, because it takes me ages to do anything and Chuck’s a good egg all round so I feel like I should).

His hardboiled teen novella SHOTGUN GRAVY is very good indeed. The story’s snappy as a crocodile with a migraine, the drip-drip of Atlanta’s character background is expertly handled, characterisation is tight as a drum of tight things and there’s a healthy vein of dark humour running through a story that knows damn sure what it’s doing and makes sure it does it. It is, in short, a fine piece of work.

As far as things to spend three bucks on go, there’s no reason not to go for it.

Next up with my copious spare time (TM) - finishing Mosby’s BLACK FLOWERS and checking out Luca Veste’s LIVERPOOL 5.