Frank Bill begins Donnybrook with a series of vignettes: Jarhead Earl robbing a gun shop, Chainsaw Angus and Liz arriving their meth lab which is in flames, Purcell awakening from his dreams, a Sheriff riding up late to the meth lab discovering two charred bodies, and the gun shop owner’s son finding his father in the back of the gun shop from the aftermath of the robbery. A lot happens in the first few pages of Donnybook and it continues that way like an F150 barrelling down a state road with a 16-year-old at the wheel.
Donnybrook is always red-lining as characters are being pushed well past their limits. Each sentence flattens our noses and the words crush our cheekbones. This isn’t the Tarantino violence of your parents, it’s raw and unfiltered, making you duck away as punches are thrown.
Wet dripped from the parted cartilage of his nose. Blotted and crusted onto flared lips. Ran down his butt-crack chin. Fertilized his crop of curled chest hair. A few teeth stuck to and stained his pink Izod shirt. Eldon’s tough talk had disappeared when the swelled slits of his eyes blinked back open.
His hands were twisted behind him with lamp cord, attached to the legs of the wooden chair in which he sat. A blurred outline swayed her hips in front of him. He focused. A pair of hands were pushing goose-feather-soft mounds of female flesh before him. Hank Williams blared “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It” from the radio on the kitchen counter behind her.
Angus sat next to the radio, wiping the blood from his knuckles onto a white dish towel. He’d beat Eldon pretty fair, he thought. Laid the towel down beside the three large bottles of Allegra-D. Shook his head. Said, “Two-inches-a-love, didn’t your daddy never tell you not to think with your pecker? Even with all that schooling, you’re still a dumb shit.” Angus pointed down at the three bottles, said, “Had to be sure you had these.”
Eldon’s eyes darted from Angus to Liz, who was running a hand down the front of her pants. Tonguing her lips. Giggling psychotic-like.
Eldon looked back at Angus. Slobbered, “You can’t do this!”
Angus gave a Charles Manson stare. Threw both hands into the air, palms facing up, said, “Who’s gonna stop me? You?” His laughter bounced into the high white plastered ceiling.
Frank Bill’s Donnybrook is a classic of American crime fiction, it is a Red Bull-infused pot of coffee. Don’t be that asshole like me that took too long to read it. Go get it out of your library, buy it, and borrow it from a friend. I don’t care, just read it. By the by, it sure as shit earns each and every one of those five fucking stars.