White Knuckle by Eric Red
There’s a killer on the road…
He’s a big rig truck driver who goes by the CB handle White Knuckle, and he’s Jack the Ripper on eighteen wheels. For thirty years he has murdered hundreds of women in unimaginable ways, imprisoning them in a secret compartment in his truck, abducting them in one state and dumping their dead bodies across the country. Dedicated FBI agent Sharon Ormsby is on a mission to hunt down and stop White Knuckle. She goes undercover as a truck driver with a helpful long hauler named Rudy in a cross-country pursuit that will ultimately bring her face-to-face with White Knuckle in a pedal-to-the-metal, high-octane climax on a highway to Hell.
Over the last few years, I’ve gotten more and more into crime fiction. Whenever I feel a bit bogged down by science fiction or fantasy, I throw a little crime into the mix just for a change of pace.
Special Agent Sharon Ormsby has uncovered a horrific pattern while investigating seemingly unrelated crimes. There is a serial killer at work in the United States using the thousands of miles of highway as their own private stalking ground. Ormsby is tasked with finding the maniac and stopping this psychopath from killing again. Sharon enlists the assistance of a trucker, Rudy, and the two travel from crime scene to crime scene trying to find any kind of lead. What develops is a tense game of cat and mouse as Sharon and Rudy switch from being the hunters to the hunted. White Knuckle is a killer who likes to play games with his quarry, and Sharon has piqued his interest. Ultimately, this novel becomes one long chase from beginning to end.
A small word of warning, the easily offended may wish to look elsewhere for their crime fiction. There are some pretty nasty suggestions of violence in this book. The character of White Knuckle is an entirely loathsome piece of work; a sexual sadist who preys on women, using them, abusing them and then disposing of them. He revels in their pain and suffering. I had no difficulty at all rooting for Special Agent Ormsby to take him down. I was urging her on every step of the way. There are a handful of chapters that follow events from White Knuckle’s perspective. They also reveal additional insight into his childhood and formative years and, I’ll be honest here, it just made me hope for his destruction all the more. Knuckle is a complete scumbag, I’m always impressed when an author can create a character that I really actively hate. There are no redeeming qualities to this villain at all, not a one. Think Ed Gein driving a big rig, and you are about half way there.
There is a distinctly cinematic feel to proceedings and that is hardly a surprise when you discover that the author is already a successful screenwriter having written movies like Near Dark and The Hitcher. I could easily see this story being adapted for the screen. I’m pondering my dream cast right now. I’m thinking someone like Tommy Lee Jones could be supremely sleazy as White Knuckle. Not sure who would play Sharon and Rudy though. That requires some more thought.
This is short, sharp and often shocking fiction. I rattled through the entire book in a single sitting. All the chapters tend to only be a couple of pages long. This fast-paced, punchy approach feels appropriate and adds an additional sense of urgency that infuses the entire novel. Darkly entertaining, I enjoyed this grisly slice of pulpy crime fiction. It certainly shares the same deliciously sinister tone as the author’s classic celluloid endeavours.
White Knuckle is published by Samhain Publishing and is available now.