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Black Static

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The Late Review: The Gate at Lake Drive

10th May, 2023

Author: Peter Tennant

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Released in paperback in 2015 by IFWG International Publishing, according to the front cover The Gate at Lake Drive is "Book 1: Dillon the Monster Dick Series", which immediately set my reviewer sense tingling and, combined with a distinctly unappealing cover illustration, would normally have resulted in me giving the book a miss, but it was a wet weekend and I've enjoyed a couple of stories by Canadian author Shaun Meeks in anthologies, so I decided to give it a chance and I'm glad that I did.

Here's the all-important backdrop - monsters come from other worlds/dimensions, usually in an attempt to escape something far worse. They pass over as spirits, but accrete earth material to form bodies. Dillon is also from another reality but here with the permission of whatever passes for authority in this scenario, and his job on Earth is to 'disembody' the monsters and send them back where they came from. In effect then, this is a Men in Black variation. Or, if you wanted to be judgemental, you could think of Dillon as the Border Force, rooting out and repatriating illegal immigrants. Sometimes he feels bad about his job.

Anyway, by way of prologue to the main event we get to see him dispatching a creature that feeds on paint, and then he's summoned by burlesque dancer Rouge to get rid of something lurking in her basement. There's an instant attraction and they go out on what might be a date, but before things can progress further Dillon has to go off to the isolated town of Innisfil, where Mayor Devon Fent claims there is a monster in the local lake. Dillon is sceptical, but visits his supplier Godfrey to stock up on essentials just in case. He's right to be prepared. All sorts of shit is about to hit the fan, with a large scale incursion by Gloudians, fish like aliens with attitude, while the locals, odd at first, turn into what, to all intents and purposes, appear to be zombies. And lurking back of it all is something far, far worse. By way of bonus material, we have a short story titled "The Undergarment Eater" which details Dillon's first encounter with a Gloudian.

There's a lot to like here. First and foremost is the invention. I loved the schemata for monsters that is used as a backdrop. As mentioned before, it brought to mind things like Men in Black, but Meeks adds details of his very own, such as the fact that the monsters have no bodies except for whatever they can cobble together from Earth material. As an example, one monster is composed of the soiled tissues of masturbating teenage boys, and the more they wank the bigger the monster gets. And then there are the monsters' personal habits, such as eating paint or underwear. Most of the monsters are harmless, creatures who have come to Earth in the hope of finding something better than their own world and want nothing more than to exist under the radar. But of course some of the monsters really are menaces, as with the Hellion that organises things at Innisfil.

Another factor is the self-deprecating character of Dillon, who is always undercutting himself, with the whole Monster Dick thing as an example of his humour, but its humour with a purpose. His two main foils are the scheming Godfrey and too good to be true Rouge. The latter is the dictionary definition of a feisty female, come femme fatale, not in the least bit phased by all the crap she gets into courtesy of Dillon's job, while the banter between them and the way in which she is, in one sense at least, so much more mature than Dillon is a delight. Godfrey is a good guy, but not above making a buck or two on the side, and it's his shiftiness that makes the man interesting, both an asset and a liability to Dillon in doing his job. The rest of the dramatis personae, from refreshingly straight up Sheriff Gibson to oily Mayor Fent, along with the unusual residents of Innisfil, are marvellously drawn and add their own dashes of humour and horror to the mix.

A third attraction of the book was the manic action, as Dillon fights predatory fish and zombies and an actual demon, with each scrape worse than the last and the reader wondering how the hell Dillon will get out of this one. And on the latter score we have one of the book's weak spots, as I wasn't at all convinced by how easily, after an appropriate number of alarums and excursions, he dealt with the Gloudians and zombies, while the whole thing at the end with the Hellion seemed more or less like a plot convenience, though I'll admit that it was adequately foreshadowed albeit via some judicious memory gaps on Dillon's part. Minor points though, and overall this book was a lot of fun, the ideal companion for a wet weekend. I can easily imagine it as a big budget movie along the lines of the aforementioned Men in Black (little known fact - mention them three times in a review and they turn up to take away your house bugs).

If you enjoy The Gate at Lake Drive thegood news is there are at least three more books in the series, and if you turned up here after googling 'monster dick' you have both my good wishes and my sympathy.





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