Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed the works of Lee Thompson (not to be confused with horror author Lee Thomas). When I heard about his new novella, and saw that amazing cover artwork, I knew I had to read it.
We start things off with our protagonist, nicknamed “Fist”, who is an ex-amateur fighter, but he reveals he quit to preserve his family life, but he has become a different person. Fist is an intensely troubled, vulnerable, shell of a man, not what you’d expect a former fighter to be, but it’s like he’s been tamed or subdued. He walks into a home invasion and at first, seems to believe that his wife is cheating on him with another man, but the situation is much worse: the “other man” is holding his wife down against her will at knifepoint, and emphatically states that she should say his name: Jesus.
Lee has talked before about how much he admires Tom Piccirilli, both as a writer and as a human being, and I think this particular work highlights some of the best parts of Lee’s writer toolbox, and When We Join Jesus In Hell makes him the perfect successor to Tom, his truest dark disciple.
After failing to apprehend the assailant, and after the damage has been done, Fist sets off after Jesus to get his revenge, his dog (and only companion at this point) in tow.
With this work, horror readers will see how much of a master Lee is at getting down how people actually think and when which thoughts occur to them, of being so intimately connected to a protagonist that you’ll feel like you need some space to breathe. Fist’s point of view is laced with pain and vengeance, and his raw emotions come alive off the page.
Of course, when Fist goes to find the young hoodlum Jesus, he’s not there, but an older woman is (his aunt). More violence erupts despite Fist’s intentions, and he starts to fancy himself something of a vigilante avenger, but he will not rest until he exacts his revenge against Jesus, even if the cost is his own sanity and well-being.
Many times, it feels like Fist is living his whole life in reverse, and he becomes unable to strip himself out of the past. Despite everyone’s admonitions for him not to go through with exacting his revenge, and the assertions that two wrongs don’t make a right, that killing Jesus won’t bring back his loved ones, Fist is driven only by hate and a desire to see justice done.
When We Find Jesus in Hell is an intense, powerful, and taut piece of fiction that fans of Tom Piccirilli should most definitely check out. This novella will appeal to horror fans who enjoy a good old-fashioned revenge tale with crime elements.