By Andrew Post
Published by Flame Tree Press
Available: November 2020
Mondo Crimson reads like a crime novel for the majority of its ride, which seems like it should be pointed out to readers looking strictly for horror; this title has been marketed to look like a horror release, but I wouldn’t consider it as such. While, yes, it does contain elements of horror – namely, the fact that the big baddy and his crew love drinking blood flowing with adrenaline – Mondo Crimson is ultimately about some contract killers and less-violent employees in the business being set on one another to close up shop. Luckily for me, I’m a big fan of crime fiction, so this was right up my alley.
You have four characters in the spotlight: Brenda (a contract killer with sociopathy and/or ASPD), Mel (an acting mechanic of sorts working off debt), Merritt (another contract killer, this one a weirdo and possible pedophile), and Felix (the big boss who has decided to get out of the business as his blood addiction gets increasingly bad). All of these characters work well in their roles in the story, but Brenda and Merritt were my favorite. Both of these characters are vicious killers who, essentially, feel nothing for others. Brenda has a husband and children, but doesn’t love them – that’s all pretend, just like much of her public life. And Merritt killed both his brother and father as a child, yet still lives with his mother who hates and fears him. That dynamic is an enjoyable one whenever it comes to play.
The story itself is, admittedly, a little messy in the way it is presented. The timeline jumps around a bit, but I never got lost along the way. For the most part, I was very much invested in everything going on. And even though I have not yet read Chop Shop (Post’s previous Flame Tree release), it was made pretty clear that the Amber character – that shows up for about thirty pages – is from that book. I really enjoyed this connection, as sliding characters and locations into other stories not directly tied together is something that excites me in reading and writing. Not only was her brief role an entertaining one that did not feel forced, it also increased my interest in reading Chop Shop soon, now that I know I like Post’s writing.
The horror stuff doesn’t really find its way into the story until Part Two. That half way mark in the book is actually a really disturbing and interesting one, and is followed by some gruesome chapters. The whole sequence in which Merritt catches up to Brenda and Mel at the side of the road was rather exciting, especially in its end. The finale at Felix’s house is also a great one, and bloody.
I only had a few small complaints along the way, none of which really dampened my experience. Now that I know what Andrew Post can do, I’ll be keeping my eye out for his other work. I had a lot of fun with this dark and disturbing story, and definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys the genres of crime and horror being blended together.
Highlights: A strong foundation in crime fiction … a solid and interesting theme of addiction that appears in several ways … great cast of characters
Shadows: A couple sections that slow down the excitement … I wanted the mosquitos to play more of a role … jumping around the timeline may make some readers angry
For fans of: Crime and horror blends … stories about fixers … stories about sociopaths … dark and disturbing reads
Takeaway: Mondo Crimson finds its home in crime fiction, but spreads its wings by incorporating a use of violent addictions, like getting high off of blood. It’s twisted, aggressive, and even a little wild … a thoroughly enjoyable and unsettling ride.
Would I read this author again? Yes