Riding the Centipede by John Claude Smith

Riding the Centipede - John Claude Smith

I don't know what the fuck that was, but I liked it!


I read John Claude's collection Autumn in the Abyss and loved it. When he contacted me to see if I would like to read this book, I jumped on the chance and I'm glad I did.


Jane Teagarden hires a man named Terrance Blake to find her missing brother, Marlon. Marlon is riding the heavy drug train-the heaviest of which is "Riding the Centipede", which is only allowed for one lucky (?) person a year, and this year it's Marlon. The drug is only obtainable through William Burroughs who is supposed to be dead, and there's a radiation infused freak who's on the trail of both Marlon and the centipede. Did you get all that? I warned you that it's fucked up.


John Claude's writing is vivid while his descriptions are brief and to the point. He's able to draw beautiful, sometimes horrible, pictures in only a few words. It's amazing, really. His characters are beautifully rendered-all of them complex, multi-layered and flat out interesting. By far the most interesting character to me was Rudolf Chernobyl. Born out of the nuclear disaster with his glowing eyes and sparks flying from his fingertips, how could anyone not be mesmerized? A truly original creation that I won't soon forget.


This book is constantly referencing other books, movies, songs, authors, etc... I'm sure I didn't catch them all, (I'm not familiar with the work of Burroughs, so I'm sure I missed a lot there). Sometimes that makes the reader feel left out-when they're not familiar with everything, but this author manages to do it without alienating the reader. I'm sure someone more familiar with Burroughs' work would get more out of it, but those unfamiliar with it, like me, can still enjoy this story.


With hints of Clive Barker, (The Ratman really felt like something Barker could have created), Hunter S. Thompson, ("Buy the ticket, take the ride"), and flavors all his own, John Claude Smith ultimately delivers the goods with this story. It's imaginative, original, drug infused what the fuckery and I loved every second of it. Bravo Mr. Smith!


Highly recommended for fans of trippy, bizarre dark fiction.


*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is it.*