"Shady Palms" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Carnal Morgue Press
Written by Allen Dusk
2012, 324 pages, Fiction
Book released on September 12th, 2012
With the seeming rise of bed bug incidents throughout the country, it was only a matter of time before someone capitalized on the situation and put the fear of these disgusting little beasts to paper or film. And author Allen Dusk did exactly that in his book Shady Palms by exploring what would happen if you mixed terrorism, chemical warfare, bloodsucking critters and a less-than-desirable motel in one of the seedier parts of town – where drugs and flesh are sold in the open without fear of police intervention.
The Shady Palms Motel is an interesting place. A sleazy motel on the east side of San Diego where if something bad is going to happen, it will happen here. Murders, prostitution, drug abuse, scandal and more are all part of the Palms. None of this bothers Sanjay, the owner of this establishment. Not only has he participated in some of the illegalities that go on in his joint, he also encourages the rampant prostitution that happens in the rooms. He has cameras in every room, allowing him to make a lot of money via a website that those cameras feed their footage to. Subscribers get to see sex, suicide, self-pleasure and more, and Sanjay reaps the benefits.
But this type of establishment also attracts the wrong kind of people; like a terrorist, Mandhur, looking to do some jihad on us dirty Americans. After successfully stealing some radioactive material, he stashes it between the mattresses of his room at the Shady Palms. He then is shot in an FBI undercover sting gone bad, and since the Feds don't know where Mandhur was holed up, that stolen Iodine 131 wedged between the bed and box-spring gets all leaky and spreads some radioactive love on the bed bugs that have made their home there. Hilarity ensues.
If you pick up Shady Palms for amazing character development, rich subtext, and a deeper meaning to life, move along, you'll find none of that here. The characters are clichéd and cookie-cut, subplots are suggested but never realized and the book is as predictable as they come. Instead, you get sex, violence, action, grue, and giant radioactive bed bugs. All of which is a whole lot of fun.
Reading Shady Palms is not unlike reading a Guy Smith novel (and if you haven't read a Guy Smith novel, go fix that right now). It's a monster pulp book of yesteryear. Dusk doesn't screw around wasting time with allegories; he doesn't have time for that nonsense. He gets right down to business with the insects of the jumbo size, organizing as best they know how to successfully suck the life juice right out of you.
Shady Palms is a lot like a Michael Bay movie. Its point seems to strictly entertain, and it succeeds. It's fun, it's fast and it's enjoyable. Sure I would have liked a little more backstory on Sanjay, but he isn't the star of this story. The giant bed bugs are. And they deliver.