I’ve been terribly derelict in posting about the recent authors I’ve enjoyed reading, so I hope to make some amends starting today. There’s been such a wealth of interesting fiction from the small presses lately it’s difficult to find the time to keep up. But Jonathan Raab’s The Lesser Swamp Gods of Little Dixie (Muzzleland Press) is well worth your time.

A loose sequel to The Hillbilly Moonshine Massacre that can be read independently without losing the reader, but definitely worth seeking out as well, it follows the continuing adventures of Sheriff Kotto, a conspiracy obsessed radio show host and dabbler in all things occult and eldritch. And by “all things,” I mean everything from malefic maize (you’ll understand later), to the fallout from a history drenched in racism.

Where to start? The Lesser Swamp Gods of Little Dixie is chock full o’ pulp strangeness delivered with self-aware wit that’s never condescending, but a tip o’ the hat to its influences. Raab writes crisp, sharp prose laced with a weirdness and humor that reminds me of Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard, injected with the convoluted conspiratorial rants from a long lost episode of X-Files, while In Search Of plays in the background.

But this is Raab’s  game through and through; there’s nothing even approaching pastiche or a slapdash imitation between these pages. It’s a unique ride, and the whole story is delivered with a sincere emotional core without any trace of a false, tongue-in-cheek attempt at being clever. This novel delivers genuine terror, humor, and a kind of joy in storytelling that sweeps the reader along.

Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see of Sheriff Cecil Kotto.

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