Crime Wave Press asked me to read and review Andy Rausch’s novella collection, Riding Shotgun and other American Cruelties. Rausch is an American author, film journalist, film producer, screenwriter and actor.
‘Riding Shotgun and other American Cruelties’ is a unique collection of quirky, Tarantinoesque crime novellas, representing three very different sub-genres. In the first story, “Easy-Peezy,” a band of elderly Old West bank robbers return to their wicked ways robbing banks in the 1930s John Dillinger era. The second story, “Riding Shotgun,” is a bitter tale about a man pushed to the limits of human endurance and forced to take up arms to protect those he loves. The third tale, “$crilla,” is an urban crime fantasy in which a fledgling hip-hop group kidnaps a record mogul in the hopes of finally making the kind of loot they’ve always dreamed of.
Easy-Peezy – 3.5/5
The first story in the collection is Easy-Peezy. The premise is great, a geriatric bank robber decides to try and relive the glory days and rob banks in his seventy’s with the help of old-timers, Jimmy and Tom. There’s plenty of chance for comedy with geriatric robbers and a paralysed getaway driver.
It’s readable, and a brilliant concept for a story. It perhaps was not as well executed as it pitches itself to be, but still a great read, and all of Rausch’s stories have very unique premise’s which is pretty rare in this genre.
Riding Shotgun – 4/5
A gripping, fast-paced unlikely tale of a regular Joe turned assassin after his daughter is kidnapped and wife shot in front of him. I probably would have started the novella with Riding Shotgun, as the titled and stand out piece within the collection. I absolutely loved this story. I read it in one sitting; this is Andy Rausch at his best.
There are several unexpected twists, which I welcomed, and again it’s a short, snappy read. Loved the concept, and the darkness of this story, which was much stronger than the comical threat in Easy-Peezy.
Scrilla – 3/5
The final story in the series, Scrilla, adopted the same black comedy of a failed hip-hop group that kidnap a record mogul. It was classic Rausch; dark, violent told through a thick American dialect. I enjoy the style of his writing, but out of the collection, this was probably my least favourite. Still worth a read, but it didn’t grab me as much as the title story.
You can read the collection for free on your Kindle here.