Anthony Neil Smith
Bleak House Books, April 2008
We need to do something about this Anthony Neil Smith guy. He co-founded Plots with Guns, the greatest noir ‘zine that ever polluted the Internet. His debut novel, Psychosomatic, was a piece of twisted genius. Then he single-handedly invented heavy metal noir with The Drummer. His short stories show up in great magazines like Murdaland and even *sniff* literary journals.
Now Smith brings us Yellow Medicine, the heart-warming tale of Billy Lafitte, a disgraced cop from Mississippi who trudges through the days as a deputy sheriff in rural Minnesota: taking bribes from the local meth dealers; having sex with women in exchange for letting their law infractions slide; getting hammered and calling his ex-wife, who won’t let him talk to their kids; and suffering through an unhealthy crush on Drew, the bass player in a psychobilly band called Elvis Antichrist.
Drew asks Billy to help her meth dealing boyfriend out of a jam. Seems the boyfriend pissed off some Asians who are moving into the area and trying to take control of the drug trade. Of course, it isn’t that simple; the Asians aren’t just drug dealers. Billy has all he can do to avoid getting swept away in the shit storm that follows. Like Billy says, “If I made things right, then I had everything I wanted. Happiest fucking asshole on earth.”
Smith injects the traditional noir atmosphere with rednecks, college kids, ruthless feds, a terrorist cell and even—in some ways the most jarring part of the mix—a couple of decent people just trying to help. Then there is Billy, whose biggest goal is to live long enough to see his kids again. As always, Smith’s prose shows no mercy. It is beautifully dark stuff. This guy gets any better and I’m going to pull a Tonya Harding on him.
 Although PWG shut down in 2004, Smith is reviving it and we should see the first new issue soon.
 And if you don’t think the world needed heavy metal noir, then you can go fuck yourself.
 Psychobilly? Google it, baby.