Axel Howerton is truly a master of tongue-in-cheek humor, and he delivers in spades with the hard-boiled noir comedy, Hot Sinatra. If you don’t know Howerton, you’ve clearly not spent enough time in the horror blogosphere: he is the leader of the annual Halloween extravaganza called Coffin Hop, as well as the author of the darkly comedic story, “Living Dead at Zigfreidt & Roy.”
Hot Sinatra follows old-school private investigator, Mossimo Cole, a sarcastic tough guy who’s really a bit of a teddy bear at heart. Things go south for Cole when an elderly client asks him to find his one-of-a-kind record featuring the only time Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald sang together. Turns out this record is highly sought-after, as mobsters come after Cole, delivering some serious beatings that he takes like a champ.
The love interest in this updated noir tale of revenge and jazz is a fiery redhead who also happens to be the daughter of Cole’s grumpy old client. She and her young daughter get caught up in the danger and intrigue as Cole struggles to uncover the mystery of the record, upping the stakes as he tries to save not only his own skin, but also the lives of his ladies.
A zany cast of characters comes to call, including an alcoholic Irish rockstar, a grandmother-slash-drug cartel queen, and a pair of gay henchmen who go by the names Manlove and Kickerdick. It’s through these characters that Axel’s talent really shines: he paints a canvas of believable, equally loveable and hateable characters whose lives tangle and unravel around one another. I laughed out loud at their shenanigans, and I suspect you will, too.
Axel’s prose zings with a sharp wit that seems to come effortlessly to him, and if you’ve read a couple of his works, you’ll find an amazing versatility in his writing. Axel Howerton truly makes the small press proud, delivering the kind of excellence you always hope to find when picking up a new book. Hot Sinatra is a snappy read that will keep you engaged until the last page, and then leave you wanting more. I hope we haven’t seen the last of Mossimo Cole, but even if his story is over, at least we know we haven’t seen the last of Axel Howerton. I, for one, can’t wait to see what he cooks up next.