“Her name was Sondra, and when she asked me to kill Whitey, I said yes. What else could I say?”
Brian Keene unleashes a gleefully violent tale of lust and murder . . . well attempted murder . . . as Larry tries to help Sondra escape the clutches of Whitey but finds out that no matter what they do to him, Whitey won’t die.
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by Brian Keene
Violence, Murder, Homicide, Immortality, Fear, Escape, Organized Crime, Strip Club, Police, Torture, Unborn Child, Money, lust, Manipulation, Stripper, Obsession,
Larry Gibson, The narrator of the story who couldn’t say no to one simple request.
Sondra Belov, The obsession of Larry’s life — Sondra is a stripper at The Odessa.
Zakhar “Whitey” Putin, Owner of The Odessa club and connected to the Russian mob.
Darryl Moore, A friend of Larry’s who works at Globe Package System with him.
Yul, A friend of Larry’s who works at Globe Package System with him.
Jesse, A friend of Larry’s who works at Globe Package System with him.
When Larry first sees Sondra Belov stripping on stage at the Odessa, he falls head over heels in lust. He can’t control himself so he returns again and again to watch her.
“That was how I finally met Sondra. And it was the last time I was ever truly happy.”
One night as Larry and Darryl leave Jesse at The Odessa to go home, they discover a bruised and bloody Sondra hiding in the parking lot. On impulse Larry has Sondra climb in his jeep and they take off being chased by the Russians. They escape and Larry takes her to his apartment with Darryl in tow. He thinks they’re safe there.
Unfortunately, Whitey has no trouble tracking them down. Whitey’s goons burst in the apartment at an inopportune moment but with a little luck — and desperation to be Sondra’s hero — Larry gets her out alive.
Darryl and Jesse had no such luck.
Whitey wants Sondra back and will stop at nothing to get her back. Even severe bodily injury only seems to slow him down. Larry and Sondra are left with only one alternative. For Sondra to have a life and for Larry to avenge his dead friends, they must kill Whitey.
But killing him . . . proves to be a lot harder than Larry ever imagined.
As I mentioned above, Kill Whitey gleefully violent tale of lust and murder. Brian Keene does a superb job of setting up the friends — Larry, Darryl, Jesse and Yul — as truly blue-collar workers who swear, have sometimes dim opinions about women and politics and so forth. Larry is perhaps a little more educated than his friends, a little more thoughtful but he is still easily manipulated by Sondra.
The story takes place in Lewisberry Pennsylvania, in a blue-collar city. You get a good look at that run-down slightly depressed part of the country. As the story progresses, you get to see Larry’s apartment, the strip clubs, a deserted factory building — all of Lewisberry’s highlights. You get a good feel for a town where jobs are hard to come by, where the education level is rarely above high school and where clubbing is the only recreation available.
Kill Whitey is in first person past tense from Larry’s point of view. It’s Larry telling the story and you know from the very beginning that he survives although he is still in bad shape. You don’t know who else makes it through and he eludes to the fact that he tried to kill Whitey but Whitey was difficult to kill.
There is a supernatural element to this story. It’s slowly introduced — the reveal comes in pieces but Keene does explain why Whitey is so hard to kill. Larry, unfortunately, has no supernatural aid to help him. He has to put Whitey down all by himself — if that’s even possible.
In one of the story notes in the Unhappy Endings short story collection by Brian Keene, he describes the basic pattern his novel-writing has taken. He generally writes a dark, grim book, often putting a lot of himself into the story. The Rising, and Ghoul are stories of such darkness and dispar, he often writes a novella or a novel that is lighter in tone afterward. Kill Whitey is one of those lighter novels.
Actually this story puts me in mind of two movies: Terminator and Terminator 2 — Judgment Day. It’s a story about an ordinary man facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Moreover they are kill-fests where the monster soaks up massive damage, and can’t be killed. I’ve been wracking my brain for some book that reads like this, so far to no avail.