Prisoner 489 (Black Labyrinth book 2)

by Joe R. Lansdale

“That would be funny. Kettle brings the supplies and that thing is waiting on the dock for him with one of our legs. Well, not that funny.”
“No. Not that funny.”

Three men work as kinds of caretakers on a mysterious prison island which houses the truly bad. One of the responsibilities they have is the grave-digging and burial of inmates executed by prison officials. One night all lights are dimmed to the point of disappearing four times, when usually the use of the electric chair dims the island lights only once. The men speculate that someone was certainly tough to kill, and soon a massive casket arrives for them to bury before sunrise. Mayhem ensues.

Another great example of fast paced storytelling, this novella is likely to be read in one sitting. The trademark Lansdale humor shows up a few times, but there’s not much chance for levity this night. Half of the book is description of the fight taking place, and it’s a good one! We do have a kind of dread for a few moments in the first half of the book, but once the action begins the readers’ blood is pumping while the fear is strictly limited to the characters.

Overall this is cool novella displaying many of Mr. Lansdale’s strengths like pacing, dialogue and camaraderie between buddies against a common adversary. It may not match the ridiculous pace of his recent thriller novella Hot In December, but what does?

An extremely enjoyable, fast read containing horror, humor, blood-n-guts and the buddy system.

4 stars

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