Christmas is coming in October this year, possibly hijacked by Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King to hand out pre-Halloween treats, for lovers of neo-noir. We talked about Craig Clevenger’s new masterwork and now we also have Will Christopher Baer’s Phineas Poe: Books I, II, and III. This collection (also referred to as The Phineas Poe Omnibus), composed of three Will Christopher Baer novels: Kiss Me, Judas, Penny Dreadful, and Hell’s Half Acre, follows the disgraced cop as he encounters the seedy underground denizens of Denver, San Francisco, and high plans Texas. “Enthralled by a beautiful and deadly woman named Jude, Phineas follows her across a surreal internal landscape of stolen kidneys, violent fantasy games, and snuff films,” says the publisher MacAdam/Cage.
I first encountered Baer’s work in 1998 when I stumbled across Kiss Me, Judas in the bookstore. A riff on the urban legend, Phineas Poe wakes up in a bathtub full of ice and a note telling him to call 911 if he wants to live. I distinctly remember the reaction of the young lady I was with that evening at the bookstore. And if you knew her and her, ahem, book club ilk, then you would immediately realize that her “disgust” at such a plot is a compliment to Baer. What I was doing with such a bland young lady that evening is another story for another time. Anyway.
The word “edgy” is thrown around far too often, but Baer (and Clevenger) deserves the adjective. Don’t just take my word for it… Hubert Selby, author of Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream said “the writing is perfect, synergistic and so beautifully interwoven with the story, the reader is put through an extraordinary experience. The hallucinatory sequences are so perfect that I am still not certain what is real and what is not, and I don’t care. I experience the book, and I still am.”
We’ll have more coverage of Baer’s new release this week. But in the meantime, check out the Omnibus here. At only $19 for three novels, it’s well worth the expenditure. And be sure to check out Baer’s fantastic website.