Book review: “Gil’s All Fright Diner” by A. Lee Martinez

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They’re a couple of good old boys, traveling around together in a battered pickup. If that sounds like the opening line of a bromance, it’s only because you haven’t met Earl and Duke yet. One is a jerkweed vampire who sports an atrocious comb-over and a distinct lack of socially redeeming personality traits. The other is a werewolf whose anger-fueled fits of lycanthropy ruin more clothing than he can afford to replace. Like a paranormal odd couple, they barely get along with each other, and that only because they have nobody else.

All they’re looking for is a place to bury Earl for the day, and an odd job or two to put fuel in the truck. Maybe a pint or two of blood wouldn’t hurt. When they arrive in Rockwood, Texas, opportunity meets them in the form of a diner whose cook-waitress-owner Loretta needs some pipe laid down. Also, she could use some help driving off the nightly attack of zombies that has already emptied the neighboring cemetery. One or two more attacks, and the Sheriff will shut the diner down.

The zombies keep coming and coming until our heroes find the magical talisman that has been used to draw them. But then even worse minions of black magic begin to surface. All this is more than even a town like Rockwood, where irregular occurrences are a regular occurrence, can handle. And all of it is ultimately because of an unholy alliance between the evil soul who designed the diner and a teenage witch who desires power. Between them, they mean to unleash all kinds of ancient horrors on the earth—if only an undead nebbish, a white-trash werewolf, and a good-girl ghost can be kept out of the way long enough for their ritual to turn Gil’s Diner into an open doorway to hell.

Parents concerned about potty-mouthed language, sexual content (I would call it “mature,” but it isn’t), and occult practices, should take this book’s “adult/occult content advisory” into account before letting it babysit their kids. Apart from that, anyone who enjoyed Monster and Too Many Curses (as I did) should also get a kick out of Dallas-based author Martinez’s irreverent take on the undead, magic, the zombie apocalypse, and the demon-horde ditto. Other Martinez titles that I plan to look up areIn the Company of Ogres, A Nameless Witch, The Automatic Detective, Divine Misfortune, Chasing the Moon, and Emperor Mollusk vs. the Sinister Brain.