Robert E. Dunn “The Red Highway” Review

Posted: December 21, 2015 in Reviews, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

the red highway

BOOK INFO

Length: 282 Pages

Publisher: Necro Publications/Bedlam Press

Release Date: October 30, 2015

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review

My first introduction to Robert E. Dunn’s work was Behind The Darkness, a scary as hell novel about a group of aliens terrorizing a family on their rural farm. I have always been both fascinated and terrified by aliens, so I was instantly drawn to Dunn’s novel and his traditional take on the Grey alien. I remember reading it over the summer and feel no shame in admitting that from start to finish, that novel scared the hell out of me. It was like Dunn took all my childhood nightmares about UFOs and aliens and brought them to life. So when he sent me a copy of his latest novel The Red Highway, I was definitely excited to give it a read.

The Red Highway is a supernatural tale that takes place during racial tensions of Los Angeles in 1992. Paul Souther is a homeless man who has lost everything due to his alcohol addiction and the trauma of his former life who frequently spends his nights in the Studio KC XXX theater in attempt to be safe and left alone. He rarely pays attention to the movies, but that all changes when he sees porn star Jennifer Vixx on the big screen and is instantly drawn to her. After seeing her, Jennifer Vixx fills his dreams and Souther can’t seem to shake her from his thoughts. One day while roaming the streets, Paul witnesses an act of violence by a man he refers to only as “Big Man”. Despite being frightened by the carnage unfolding before him, Paul steals the shooters car – a 70’s era Chevy Impala – and $8000. Although he doesn’t know it yet, this discovery and the startling vision of Jennifer Vixx speaking directly to him through the movie screen at Studio KC will change his life forever.

Meanwhile on the other side of the country, Mary Prince aka Jennifer Vixx, is having visions of her own. In the middle of filming a scene for her latest movie, she is shaken by visions of Los Angeles consumed by flames and a mass of people causing chaos, destruction and violence. Not long after these visions and being startled by the same mysterious Big Man Paul encountered in Kansas City, Mary finds out she is pregnant despite being sterile for most of her life. Mary’s pregnancy draws Paul and an eclectic group of strangers together, but they are not the only people aware of Mary’s unique situation. The Big Man has an interest in Mary’s child and gives Mary and her new friends an ultimatum – surrender the child or violence will erupt throughout Los Angeles and the city will burn.

The thing that I loved most about The Red Highway was Dunn’s unique and well-developed characters. I loved Dunn’s previous novel Behind The Darkness, but at times I felt the characterization was a bit uneven. However, with The Red Highway, Dunn does an impressive job of bringing both his main and minor characters to life. He utilizes multiple story lines to help readers get an in-depth look at the lives of his characters and how their flaws and past trauma shaped them into who they are. Although there is a pretty large cast of characters in this novel, each one has a distinct personality that helps them to stand out. Paul’s road trip buddy Ford is a true believer, who believes everything they are doing is part of God’s plan and keeps obsessive notes about everything they encounter on the road. Danny Johnson is a reporter who had big dreams of being a respected journalist, but finds himself writing for a celebrity tabloid instead and wrestling with his own identity. Reverend Curtis Wilkerson is seemingly on top of the world running a successful church and living a life of luxury but has doubts that he is living up to his full potential.

Not only does Dunn create strong characters, there is an impressive amount of diversity present in The Red Highway. Religion, racism and prejudices are just some of the issues that are explored in the novel and Dunn gives honest and realistic portrayals of these issues. I thought it was interesting that despite tensions around these issues bubbling to the surface and plunging Los Angeles into chaos, this group of relative strangers are able to band together despite their different viewpoints and beliefs. There are brief moments where they seem to have preconceived notions about each other and challenge each others beliefs, but for the most part, they overcome their differences to achieve a common goal and end up caring for one another.

I also loved Dunn’s villain, The Big Man. He mainly appears to the characters as a man, but as the story progresses, it becomes obvious that The Big Man is not just an ordinary person. What makes him such a great villain is that despite the powers he hints at through the novel, he doesn’t choose to unleash that power to achieve his goals. Instead, he prefers to use coercion is his main weapon. He is able to twist people’s feelings and get them to do his bidding with little to no effort. I don’t want to spoil too much about The Big Man because Dunn does an excellent job of slowly building to the reveal, but the scene where he appears to the Reverend Curtis Wilkerson is jaw dropping. I remember thinking early on that The Big Man wasn’t all that scary, but Dunn’s descriptions of him in this scene are downright terrifying.

The Red Highway may share some similarities to other novels horror fans may have read, but Dunn’s execution, characters and choice of setting help it stand on its own. Reading The Red Highway, there is no denying that Dunn is a talented writer and he has some highly original ideas that make me excited to read whatever he releases next!

Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post for a chance to win either a copy of Behind The DarknessThe Red Highway, or a print of The Red Highway’s cover art by Erik Wilson! 

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Robert E. Dunn’s Official Website

Necro Publications/Bedlam Press Official Website

Purchase The Red Highway: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Necro Publications or your favorite bookstore!

The Red Highway tour graphic (1)

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about The Red Highway! – #TheRedHighway #RobertEDunn #HookofaBook

The Red Highway Synopsis

In 1992, as Los Angeles begins to simmer in the heat of racial injustices, one dark man appears everywhere, spreading his message of race war. At the same time, Paul Souther, a homeless drunk, joins a strange group of outsiders. Some black and some white, they all carry the weight of broken lives and lost faith. They are all drawn to LA, for the arrival of a child, impossibly carried by Mary Prince, a sterile porn star.

Through back roads and freeways everyone is pulled into LA and Mary’s side just as the baby is born. None of them have any idea that the city is a ticking bomb of anger. As riots explode, the mysterious man reveals himself to be an ancient, dark spirit using the rage of the people to stoke his own, literal, fires. He demands Mary’s child as sacrifice to keep the city, and perhaps the nation from burning. It falls to Paul, a faithless man, and a drunk with blood on his own hands, to make the impossible choice between the child and the city, and to save the people he has come to care about.

He lives in Kansas City with three daughters, a young grandson, and an old dog. He tweets sometimes as @WritingDead

Praise for The Red Highway

The Red Highway is not one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year, or that I’ve read in a long time…it’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read!  It was an incredible read, one that has so many layers that I was completely enthralled with the story.” –2 Book Lovers Reviews

“A thoroughly gripping read. Dunn is a writer with guts and the chops to grab his readers by the eyeballs and dare them to look away.”Hunter Shea, Author of Tortures of the Damned

About Robert E. Dunn

robertdunn

Robert E. Dunn was born an army brat and grew up in the Missouri Ozarks. He wrote his first book at age eleven, stealing, or novelizing, as he called it at the time, the storyline of a Jack Kirby comic book.

His college course of study, philosophy, religion, theatre, and film/TV communications, left him qualified only to be a televangelist. When that didn’t work out, he turned to them mostly, honest work of video production. Over several years he produced everything from documentaries, to training films and his favorite, travelogues. Still always writing for the joy of it he returned to writing horror and fantasy fiction for publication after the turn of the century. It seemed like a good time for change even if the changes were not always his choice.

He lives in Kansas City with three daughters, a young grandson, and an old dog. He tweets sometimes as @WritingDead but makes no promises how interesting those little posts will be.

Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win either a copy of The Red Highway, Behind the Darkness, or a print of the beautiful cover artwork from The Red Highway done by Erik Wilson! You can do multiple things each day to gain more entries! Just click the rafflecopter link. Forward any questions to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjI3/?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s