Review: Money Back Guarantee (Mail Order Massacres) by Hunter Shea

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hunter Shea bring his Mail Order Massacres novella trilogy to a close in Money Back Guarantee (or does he?!). In the first book, Shea treated us to mutant sea creatures running amok in a placid suburban town, and then showed us a little bit too much through the lenses of X-Ray specs. In this final installment, the comic book mail order centerpiece is a nuclear submarine. Unlike the prior installments, though, the mail order item is not the central figure for frights but is rather a gateway to the corporation behind it all.

After Dwight convinces his mother to order him a $5 nuclear sub from the back of a Spider-Man comic, he is thrilled to receive a three-foot long cardboard box shaped like a submersible. Dwight's new toy, however, is not waterproof and after the thing disintegrates, his mother, Rosemary, is set on getting her $5 back from the company, who promises a money back guarantee. The only problem is, AdventureCo doesn't seem to exist - and the deeper Rosemary digs, the more dangerous her pursuit grows. Soon, she begins to receive strange and threatening phone-calls in the middle of the night. Mysterious packages show up on her doorstep. She's being watched. And then... well, you'll just have to read it to find out.

One of the best parts of this series has been seeing Hunter Shea take the core premise of mail order junk and build various horror tropes around it. The first book was a ridiculous and fun bit of creature feature mayhem. The second, if it were to be filmed, would be a Harryhausen-like special effects romp. Money Back Guarantee is a slower work of psychological suspense, one that builds to an action-packed finale. It's short (possibly shorter than the other two, but I'd have to check), but that works entirely in its favor here. This one's fast-moving and gripping, and I wanted to know what was going to happen next and how it would resolve.

Personally, I love the hell out of the concept behind this series, and I certainly wouldn't mind seeing more in this vein. If Shea's willing to write more of these fun, quirky novellas, I will happily read them, money back guarantee or not!

[Note: I received an advance copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]

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Michael Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.


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