May 15, 2018
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis
Looking for a suspense-filled horror novel that’ll grab your attention and not let go? Then Distortion by Lee Thomas is just what the doctor ordered! Thomas is a two-time Lambda Literary Award winner and also a Bram Stoker Award-winning novelist of many excellent titles, including Stained, The Dust of Wonderland, and Torn. This is the first time that I’ve read Lee Thomas’ writing and you can be damn sure that it won’t be the last! Distortion is a complex horror novel that works multiple plot lines and delivers the goods. While the cover of this excellent offering from Lethe Press shows a broken window, rest assured that there are no jagged edges in the writing to trip on. This is the smoothly executed work of a story craftsman.
Mick Harris is a man who appears from the outside to have finally settled down after a wild ride on the rock and roll crazy train. He looks like an everyday Joe in his flannel shirts and jeans, which are his uniform as a home renovator. But inside, things are nowhere near that settled. Then an unexpected phone call stirs things up real bad, turning handyman Mick into an emotional mess. He has a daughter and she’s in deep trouble. Oh, and she’s a plane flight away. Sure, he could run away and deny it. But he hopes that if he can save Isley that maybe, just maybe, he can save himself, too.
That saying about things always looking greener on the other side of the fence? It’s true. For every fan that admired him in heavy metal band Palace, others put him under a microscope and tore him apart. Living that lifestyle, if you’ve got a heart at all, is a nightmare. It’s even harder if you’ve got a secret. Despite all the spandex, makeup, and amazing hair – The world of heavy metal was very anti-gay. Motley Crue sang about it and Rob Halford got fired from Judas Priest because he came out. Mick Harris is a gay man who is expected to jump multitudinous female bones, because that’s what rock and roll gods do! But it’s not a comfortable situation. And unlike these more enlightened times, his band mates were not supportive at all.
So Mick staggered forward and tried to mask his pain with drugs and lots of alcohol. When you’re really wasted, it’s easy to have sex with just about anyone, including women. In the course of having that fun, he created Isley Vale. Unfortunately, her mother wanted nothing to do with Mick, and raised her daughter alone in the one horse town of Celebration, Arkansas. A place that sounds a lot nicer than it really is. Mick flies in from Denver, Colorado with the plan of fixing whatever troubles there are. But this is a whole lot of trouble and there is a real question whether or Mick will live to tell the tale.
There are some very rich foster parents, a funky motel, a bunch revenants that live in a place called Freak Town, and a handsome handyman by the name of Sidney. Plus, Isley keeps flip-flopping on whether she’s going to accept her father or not. Confrontations, misplaced anger, and mysterious deaths. I’m telling you Distortion is a great ride all the way. Five stars! Highly recommended! If you haven’t read anything by Lee Thomas yet, this gem from Lethe Press is a great place to start!