Written by: Wayne C. Rogers
Illustrated by Santiago Caruso
E-book, Trade Paperback, and Signed Limited Hardcover
from Dark Regions Press
This is how much I enjoy the works of Joe R. Lansdale. I have the signed, limited edition of the hardcover on order with Dark Regions Press, but instead of waiting till March to read it, I ordered the paperback from Amazon to hold me over. For me, it was definitely worth the double buy. I’m an addict when it comes to the writings of Hisownself.
As other reviewers have noted, this is Mr. Lansdale’s first horror story in quite a while, and the author certainly hasn’t lost his touch in writing about the macabre and the horrifying.
Prisoner 489 takes place a little bit into the future where the deadliest of prisoners are housed on an island in the middle of nowhere and are buried on another smaller one a few miles away. The prisoners are assigned a number when they are placed into the ground. Unfortunately for Bernard, Wilson and Toggle, who are the burial crew on the smaller island, the prison sends over the body of prisoner 489 to be buried. Prisoner 489 is a mountain of a man and it took four jolts of electricity to keep him from breaking the restraints that held him captive in the electric chair.
Prisoner 489, however, isn’t dead.
That’s what the island caretakers are about to find out in the most horrible fashion. They have no weapons to defend themselves with and no way to get off the island. It’s going to be a long night for them, if they survive.
Like Mr. Lansdale’s other pieces of fiction, this one sucks you into its tangled web of suspense, death, and unpredictability like a garbage drain chewing up the leftovers. You can’t put down the book once it’s started. The good and bad are that the novella is only 82 pages long, and that’s with the illustrations added. It’s good in that the novella is over before you realize it. The bad is that you don’t want it to end so quickly, which is a sure sign the storyteller is doing his job well. One thing I can say about the works (short stories, articles, novellas, and novels) of Joe R. Lansdale is that I’ve never been disappointed in the quality of his fiction. I always want more whenever a piece of fiction is finished.
Prisoner 489 is no exception. Though short, it’s something to hold me over till Paradise Sky comes out in May or June. This will be Mr. Lansdale’s next western with Nat Love, or Deadwood Dick, in it. After that, the boys (Hap and Leonard) are back in a long novel called Honkytonk Samurai. As long as Joe R. Lansdale keeps writing them, I’ll keep reading them. That sounds like a deal to me!
I need to mention one last thing before I go. Santiago Caruso is a relatively new artist, who is gaining world-wide attention with his brilliant illustrations. He has several of them in Prisoner 489, both the paperback and the signed, limited hardcover. I look forward to seeing more his work down the road.