I was at a reading in New York City with several of my fellow Bold Strokes Books authors, and after David Swatling read an excerpt from his book (like a master storyteller) about a dog finding a human head in a bag, I was hooked.
Calvin’s Head really brings to mind James Robert Baker’s Testosterone if you, well…turned it on its head. It’s an “in the moment” psychological thriller that thrusts you right into the middle of the insanity and avoids any lengthy backstories for the characters involved. There is indeed a head, there’s murder, there’s sexual tension, there’s manipulation, deception, and obsession in a gay relationship…plus, there’s a dog named Calvin!
As a dog lover, that last part really drew me in. Swatling gives us glimpses inside Calvin’s mind and touches upon his feelings about his daddy Dekker’s predicament in a very unique “dog” voice. Calvin plays a central role as down-and-out Dekker, in an effort to get them off the street, looks for a safe haven at the fricking scene of a crime.
Instead, Dekker and Calvin become targets of the very man who committed the vicious murder. And just when it seems that this is going to become a “psycho stalks unsuspecting gay man” story, shit gets crazy, sexual sparks fly, and everyone appears to be someone he’s not.
As tension builds, it becomes harder and harder to figure out who has the upper hand, and you’ll find yourself yelling at the book, “Just don’t hurt the fucking dog!” As if Calvin’s Head isn’t suspenseful enough as it is, that concern is guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.