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Black Train, The (2009)
Fiction Review by The Spastic Cannibal

Black Train, The (2009) Edward Lee's second widely distributed novel of 2009, "The Black Train", was sadly a bit of a disappointment considering the author's notorious repertoire of ultra-violent fiction that I have grown into a major fan of over the years. I haven't even come close to reading all of his work, but everything I have come across I find enjoyable and highly engaging - namely the "Infernal" series and, of course, "The Bighead". I Just don't think straight-up 'supernatural' themed topics are really his bag; but to be fair, maybe my expectations for TBT were a tad high or I just wanted more big-donged zombie rapists and mean spirited brutality...

Plot: a well-known cable TV personality/author has traveled to a small Tennessee town in order to seek out custom, old-timey beer recipes for the last chapter of his book. After checking in to a 19th century hotel, he begins learning of the towns history from the locals which only becomes unimaginably morbid... The details on certain things don't spew so easy from the humble towns-folk, but he starts getting the idea when bizarre visions, nightmares, and non-existent figures begins turning up in the night.

Throughout the book, the story shifts from present time to the late 1800's where we get some information on some of the nutty yokels and horrifically EVIL characters who were utilizing slaves in the development of a railroad for the South during the upcoming (Civil) war. The man in charge had apparently sold his soul and the souls of his workers to the Devil in the process, which resulted in massive slaughter and unreasonable cruelty, to say the least...

One thing I can say about Lee is that his writing is so solid that it'd be easy to read a phone book as long as he wrote it. "The Black Train" wasn't nearly as bloody or 'all-encompassing' as, say, his previous novel "The Golem", which was a much darker toned story and a bit faster-paced. The ending of this one seemed like too much of a cop-out. I mean, I liked the direction it was going and the build-up was coming along excellent - the pieces of the puzzle coming together and amping up the grotesque carnage - but, all in all, I was left scratching my head. Could've just been the author's way of keeping the readers ready for anything, but I still felt a little unsatisfied...

That being said, I can't pretend like "The Black Train" wasn't a fun read. I always love how all the characters in Lee's books are constantly horny - usually while visiting a redneck town... This one is the ULTIMATE in that respect! The idea of mincing people into the ground was insane and, leave it to Mr. Lee to include the concept of "southern douching"! So overall, Lee completists should definitely crack this one open because you can't deny the man's gift of vivid and disturbing story telling, but you may be slightly disappointed if you are looking for some exceptionally 'heavy' material...

Author: Edward Lee

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