By Nate Flexer (New Pulp Press; 2009)
The spirit of Jim Thompson is given a memorably demented workout in this first person psycho fest. The impressive debut novel of Nate Flexer, THE DISASSEMBLED MAN contains elements from many Thompson novels–POP. 1280, THE NOTHING MAN and of course THE KILLER INSIDE ME (still the ultimate first person psycho novel)–but has a twisted wit and distinctive outlook that puts it in a class of its own.
Frankie Avicious is a severely disgruntled slaughterhouse employee. An ex-con with a mighty checkered past (we don’t find out how checkered until the final third), Frankie lives in Huerfano, Arizona, apparently “your typical Norman Rockwell town–if Norman Rockwell had been an unemployed drug addict.” He further suffers from a severely overweight shrew of a wife, a rich asshole father-in-law who’s also his employer, and a lover with a psychopathic BF who wants to kick Frankie’s ass.
Things are looking quite bleak for our none-too-heroic hero, but then two things happen: Frankie is visited by a mysterious traveling salesman named Jack Marteau, and he becomes a little overzealous in killing a steer in the slaughterhouse. This is the beginning of a killing spree that sees Frankie snuffing out his enemies, often in extremely brutal fashion. All the while he’s seemingly watched over by Marteau, who appears to have some investment in Frankie’s fate.
We also become privy to unsavory and incestuous details of Frankie’s past touched off by the appearance of yet another mysterious individual with a bearing on Frankie’s life. This latter character is a freakish man whose connection to Frankie (it transpires) is thoroughly perverse.
Thus we have a rare novel that can be said to contain a bit of everything: comedy, mystery, perversity, incest, freaks and mass slaughter. It’s a mighty rough ride, but also an edifying and (for those who can take it) uniquely entertaining one.