Nick Kolakowski’s Slaughterhouse Blues is the second in his Love & Bullets Hookup books, the first being A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps both of which feature Bill and Fiona, an ex-mob accountant and an ex-mob assassin on the run. The first book was a frenetic dance of violence and gunfire, while Slaughterhouse Blues, though wild and unpredictable, is not as similar as one would expect a follow-up novel to be – it is almost like the second book was written by a different author.
Maybe it is the tropical climate of Managua and Havana that slow the pace of Bill and Fiona’s adventures down, but Kowalski takes a bit more time showing us who they are and what motivates them. I guess it’s time to catch up if you haven’t read A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps and you should as the e-book is going for .99¢ right now. Where was I? Bill decided to steal from the Rockaway mob. Fiona was sent to kill Bill, except they had a history and now they are on the run together in the Caribbean. When Slaughterhouse Blues begins, Fiona is off to Managua to do a little job for some cash. While things don’t go well for her in Nicaragua, Bill is having his own troubles in Cuba.
I didn’t think it possible for Kolakowski to out do himself with the gun-wielding Elvis Presley impersonator in A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps, but he has with Ken and Barbara, two ruthless killers on the hunt but also in love. As one character notices, Ken and Barbara are two “lone wolves, and yet they found each other somehow.” Kowalski probably did everything in his power not to name them Ken and Barbie, but that’s okay, that’s what I called them in my head. And the fight scene in a car driving down New York City’s Park Avenue is worthy of the price of admission.
Slaughterhouse Blues wasn’t the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am book like its predecessor, but I wasn’t disappointed. With Bill and Fiona as our guides, Nick Kolakowski’s Slaughterhouse Blues takes us on a raucous ride filled with craziness, violence, and peculiar characters.