Written by: Vitina Molgaard
In this… interesting tale, we find ourselves in a rundown sleazy San Diego motel. To call this place a dump is a significant understatement. This place acts as home for hookers, drug addicts and one Mr. Sanjay; owner and proprietor. Sanjay’s a man of very few, if any ethics and he’s not exactly a presence worth pulling for.
The list of noteworthy characters to deal with here, are for the most part memorable; most are indeed unique and travel an expansive gamut of personalities. We’ve got a terrorist named Mandhur, who in his Jihad, quickly brings about the horror which takes hold of the Palms, before being done away with in short order might I add. Police detective Jack Daniels (a bestowed nickname that you’ll need to read about for ones-self to fully grasp) is a burnt out cop that, at times, almost seems likeable. There’re also a plethora of women willing to do most anything for drug money, a place to indulge and recover. Not exactly “hero” material.
We’ve got motel maids that have basically been trapped into continuing their employment on threat of returning to prison (there’s some backstory that pertains to these characters and works to clear up historical habits and relevancy), if they do not perform as told. One such housekeeper, Mary, only seeks freedom, and her son. She’s the character worth pulling for… at least when first we make her acquaintance.
Also not to be forgotten or overlooked, are the mutants – one of the story’s genuine horror elements – that actually manage to manifest some measure of terror; although there’s a humorous aspect of this specific piece of the adventure and these mutants, and I certainly hope that was an intentional goal. If it wasn’t… well, I’m at a bit of a loss for words.
Providing such a vague outline doesn’t necessarily offer potential readers the insatiable urge to track this one down, but it’s what I’ve got to give. As much as I’d hoped to enjoy Shady Palms, it’s a tough sell; and not the most gratifying novel I’ve read in recent memory.
Allen Dusk has successfully written what I would classify as a very “dark novel.” To call it a true horror story is not something that feels quite apt in my opinion. While it does have a nostalgic feel that hearkens back to something that may have been written back in the early sixties, there’s a piece (unidentifiable to me personally) of… magic shall we say, that falls just a bit short. That said, this is an easy read, and for those who like erotica mixed with violence, I believe it’s an enjoyable offering.
Be prepared, this book will more than likely appeal to men as opposed to women, considering a great deal of violence and degradation is imposed on the female gender. I personally had difficulty enjoying this particular book because there just were not many redeemable characters (just when you feel a heroine of hero emerge, Dusk shoots his character in the foot, eliciting their true dark nature) to sympathize with. And those that initially seem pivotal to the cause eventually make decisions that completely negate previously established good will.
To put it simply, Shady Palms is a bit of a paradox. Plenty of high points mark the novel, but they’re crushed by the story’s pitfalls.