Daniel Bunkowski is a 400-pound KILLING MACHINE. How do I know this? Because Rex Miller never stops telling you. Even in caps, he's telling you over and over how much Bunkowski, aka CHAINGANG - yes, all caps again - is an enormously obese sociopath who dreams endlessly of the foulest, most bone-crunchiest murder and mayhem. He's nearly superhuman in strength and feels little pain and no empathy nor remorse, an idiot savant (and a real whiz at snapping lengths of chain into the base of people's skulls). Discovered by the government in a maximum-security prison, the titular character is tapped to be a secret assassin in the Vietnam War. Once back in the States he simply kills. And kills. And kills again. Some authorities in that prison wondered if he was, like, the most killingest killer ever.
Miller writes the sort of muscular yet oddly understated prose that so many crime writers who aspired to be Hemingway or Hammett affected at some point; lots of ands in long sentences that wend in and around human experience, both prosaic and profound. That's what Miller wants to sound like at least; the pages of Slob may be filled with long dense paragraphs but you can skim them because you won't find anything real; only an approximation, a litany of received cultural truths. But the book is fast-moving and gruesome, lots of graphic sex and violence both singly and together, so any weaknesses can be shot past as you try not to peek ahead to see what horrible thing comes next.
Third in series, 1992
Despicably violent, fairly readable, and at the crossroads of that grim world where crime and horror fiction meet, Slob also engendered several sequels all featuring charming Chaingang. However Miller's style and imagination have nothing on the L.A. Quartet of James Ellroy, those utterly bleak and violent and masterful crime novels which have the added bonus of being written by a master of the English language (I've written on The Black Dahlia elsewhere; it truly is more of a horror novel than many that purport to be; maybe I should include it on Too Much Horror Fiction one day). I wonder how Stephen King and Harlan Ellison, whose blurbs are all over this paperback, feel about Slob in 2010. Today I'd really only recommend Slob to completists of 1980s genre fiction.