The JackPort Killer

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The Jackport Killer is the latest chronicle from Kneel Downe‘s ever-expanding Virulent Blurb universe. Best described as hardboiled poetic sci-fi, it’s one of the case files of Detective Kurt Lobo, a spliced man-wolf with lots of baggage and bags of attitude. Lobo investigates a ritualistic murder and finds himself embroiled in a story that dredges up his own past.

The novel is immensely entertaining. The author handles lots of potentially cumbersome exposition with a masterfully light touch, conveying in very few words the Blurb universe and some of its history, Lobo’s back story and the case in hand. Most of the paragraphs in the novel are single sentences, making James Ellroy seem prolix. Kneel writes and thinks in tweets, and here (as in his other books) the discipline of tweeting has translated into crystalline prose. Take this example, a description of a dog splice:

He’s Doberman spliced and just all kinda wrongs…
Kinda effeminate…
Like some sorta broken ballet dancer…
Precise but splintered….

Lobo’s first person narration is brutal, vivid and frequently very funny; Lobo has the blackest sense of humour, and will deflate a horrific description with a sardonic quip or a wry observation. Discovering a dismembered body in his apartment, he deadpans:

Judging by the splattered red on my sheets… Crotch level…
Something else must be missing…
I figure I won’t check my fridge…

It’s the protagonist’s strong personality that fuels the narrative, just as Kneel’s personality fuels his Twitter feeds. Lobo, like Kneel, is candid, sharp, sometimes grouchy and always likeable. It makes for an exhilarating read. And you don’t need to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this book; for all its trippy outlandishness (clock the references to Noonian Spheres, DeadBoxes, DreamCages), the story is rooted in our humanity and what it is to live and love.

This is my favourite novel of 2014 so far. You can buy it here. Find out more about Kneel’s work here.

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