Read Hell's Half Acre by Will Christopher Baer Online


Kidnapping, snuff films, amputee geeks and a requiem of lost love.Cast adrift after the blood symphony of Penny Dreadful, Phineas Poe is looking for answers in the form of a woman. He tracks Jude to San Francisco, where he finds her involved with John Ransom Miller, a wealthy sociopath with a mysterious hold over her. Jude is nursing her own revenge fantasy, but she needsKidnapping, snuff films, amputee geeks and a requiem of lost love.Cast adrift after the blood symphony of Penny Dreadful, Phineas Poe is looking for answers in the form of a woman. He tracks Jude to San Francisco, where he finds her involved with John Ransom Miller, a wealthy sociopath with a mysterious hold over her. Jude is nursing her own revenge fantasy, but she needs Miller's help, and in exchange, Miller wants Jude to help him with an unspeakable crime. Alone and out-gunned, Poe hopes he can save Jude from herself, make sense of his past, and navigate a torturous internal landscape he calls hell's half acre....

Title : Hell's Half Acre
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781931561822
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 385 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Hell's Half Acre Reviews

  • Jason P
    2018-12-04 03:36

    A few dark and dusty years ago I was introduced to a fellow by the name of Phineas Poe, an ex-cop bent on drugs still trying to catch loose-leads, with a thunder cloud following his every step. Until...Jude. Judas. Kiss me, Judas.A mystery wrapped in pvc pants, cigarette hanging from her mouth, and a tab of ecstasy under her tongue. She's ex-military with all the training.She can kill you five ways from Sunday before you even hit the ground. She's a bitch. She makes the girl with the dragon tattoo look like a mere Dora the explorer.When Phineas meets Jude in a shadowy, almost abandoned motel they hit it off - almost too literally. A brief momentary glimpse catches busted lines of coke on the table, razors discarded but with spotted flecks of blood on it, clothes strewn all over the place, and not a condom in sight. It's bare back for Phineas, all the way. Little does he know he has met the worst person he could ever bump in to, or the best person maybe?Phineas wakes up the next morning, in a bath tub, with his kidney missing.This summary so far describes the first book in this long twisted journey that is the Phineas Poe files. The appeal for this type of novel for me was, not only the hard-edged synopsis that I found on the back book-cover, but the way it was written as well. I quickly learned about the author, William Christopher Baer.His writing was a slice of old detective journals, mixed with a raunchy red-light district air of gutter-smug that makes the reader treat the book like a car accident, the kind that only get worse as you pass by. Baer uses only words that need to be used, no literary masturbation here. He wants the person experiencing Poe to know Poe, to feel like Poe, to do what Poe does - struggle to exist. As Kiss me Judas winds to a stuttering halt, with Poe and Jude at odds, Baer keeps the dilapidated train chugging along, whacked-out on speed and switching nerves whenever the mood pleases him. He wrote his first book in 1998 to "mixed" reviews: Entertainment Weekly gave the book a "C+", writing that Baer's "scalpel-sharp noir style proves a mesmerizing lure, but it can't compensate for a hazy plot that veers from the nauseating (much gratuitous, ornately sadistic violence) to the nonsensical"While others had a different opinion: Kirkus Reviews gave a more positive review, stating that "Baer will almost certainly write better books than this, but probably not with such youthful verve, bare nerve-ends, or frigidly droll, dead-on metaphors".With all of this potentially sinking Baer's good name, I hate to think of all the people who ended up not giving this artist a try. It's sad when you think about it, because if I wouldn't have picked this up, I never would have known that there was this kind of dark, sometimes humorous kind of heart-ripping writing out there. I mean, yes sure, I could always do some interweb searching for neo-noir fiction, or even wacky bizzaro writing like Mykle Hansen's Help! A bear is eating me!, or even, Carlton Mellick III's book Satan Burger which I still need to pick up; but lots of people don't even read these days, which I find very sad. They know not what they miss!Baer launches the reader into another tail spin with his sequel to Kiss me, Judas: Penny Dreadful. I found this book to be even crazier, darker, and down-right weirder than the first. The second book washed over me like a blood-soaked tidal wave, its random body parts poking and prodding my brain, looking for a hiding place to set down some lines, and eventually have its way with my psyche. The book is a literary version of Rohypnol, it relaxes you to the point of darkness, and when you wake up you have no memory of the last twenty-four hours. Don't let that sound like a warning, because it's not. Simply, it is a disclaimer. Penny Dreadful should have the same saying as Las Vegas - what happens there, stays there.“I have saved no one but myself and now I watch for the other universe to unravel in my skull, for the sky to become my own skin and fill with stars.”― Will Christopher Baer, Penny DreadfulNow on to the end, the proverbial last stand we the reader's have with our friend Phineas Poe. First, let me share that Baer's last book (this one) Hell's Half Acre was a bitch to obtain. Apparently it is not print in Canada anymore, thus making me scourge and plunder my way through every ratty used book store to find this lost and dusty gem. Luckily for me, I finally got my grubby hands on it! Success!This book opens much like the others, Phineas is lost and without Jude, he has an idea where she might be, but of course, he has no resources and little energy to find out exactly where that is. HHA (Hell's Half Acre) is littered with more of Baer's excellently stylized neo-writing, with no important punctuation except for periods, and maybe some commas and question marks strewn here and there. His dialogue has no quotation marks, not single nor double marks for active speaking parts. This just adds to the overall disjointed feel of this trilogy. It feels like Baer breaks minor boundaries in his writing, and how he tells his story, he doesn't care about rules and just "goes for the gold", so to speak. There is no worrying about what people will think of him, or his characters for that matter, he's not writing for the straight edged folk. These stories almost feel like he only wanted to write for himself, and by chance they happened to get some sort of attention, so he let them go down the same dark paths that Poe have gone down; the road of uncertainty; the highways of disillusion. He holds up in a motel, and pummels out a fabulous piece of art.I finished this book an hour ago, and I am so pleased with the way it ended. Baer has been a great literary discovery for me and I hope that if anyone happens to read this review, they will at least give Mr. Baer a chance. I won't make any promises that you will love these books as much as I did (i have odd 'likes'), but I will say this:“Anything you can imagine is probably true. And the worst you can imagine is probably worth money.” ― Will Christopher Baer, Hell's Half Acre

  • Brandon
    2018-11-17 01:28

    I don't really know what to think of this book. I'll try to form some sort really dreaded writing this because I wasn't really sure how to put my thoughts on this into a review. Whenever I feel negative or just..weird..about a book, the review seems a lot harder to do than when I love something. In this case, it's even harder because I can't really pinpoint exactly what this book did wrong. The structure was pretty similar to that of Kiss Me, Judas. From page one, to the end; almost every main character is on some sort of drug or mood-altering substance. I'm not sure why but after reading Penny Dreadful, it was hard to go back to what KMJ (Kiss Me, Judas - for those not following along) was like in terms of overall narrative. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I had any problems following along Baer's twisted neo-noir fantasy - I just didn't enjoy it as much this time around.Poe's main antagonist this time, aside from Jude's twisted psyche, is John Ransom Miller, a wealthy lawyer. Miller agrees to provide Jude with Senator MacDonald Cody, one whom she completed a hand amputation on a few years back while living in Mexico. Cody spots Jude somewhere in California and immediately sets out to have her destroyed - it's basically a "you can't get me if I get you first" kind of thing. The only thing that Miller wants in return is her participation (and a few others) in the creation of a snuff film. A snuff film in which the victim’s identity will not be revealed until the murder occurs.Miller is just too out there. His character is so all over the place that it made me crazy. While I understood Poe's reasons for cooperating, it gets to a certain point where it no longer made sense to me. It gets so complicated, so insanely twisted, that I was just annoyed. I can appreciate some of the moral dilemas..but these characters are all completely out of their minds. By who they are and how they came into this situation, none of them should even be aware of any moral obligation they hold to anyone.The only character I really felt anything for other than Poe, was Molly. Molly was one of the actresses hired for the snuff film, which may or may not be Miller's present girlfriend. She really didn't have any interests in most of the insanity other than trying to create a memorable performance. The scenes in which she connects with Poe were well done and had me rooting for the two to get together - however, I think it's more so because Jude enraged me 99% of the time.Baer really missed this one for me. It was necessary for him to continue the story for Jude, with her absence from the 2nd novel but he made me hate her so much that the ending just fell flat.** On another note, for a book so over-the-top violent and sexually charged, I'm bothered by other trivial things. Kind of says something about what I'm used to reading.

  • Michael
    2018-11-28 02:43

    This book was had the potential to be a fantastic conclusion to the series, which is quite a feat considering a certain lacking in Penny Dreadful to make up for. Very dark, surprisingly funny, and somehow redemptive, Hell's Half Acre is brought to a screeching halt but what I can only describe as an incomplete ending - not an ambiguous ending to grow on with relevant questioning, but one that had me checking to see if my copy simply had a last few chapters missing. An inconclusive note can be very satisfying in the sense of some kind of reader participation, but this screams a lack of ideas for the rest of the plot. This rating is perhaps the saddest that I've ever had to make, for what IS written is startlingly beautiful, but with no sense of resolution what-so-ever.

  • Colin McKay Miller
    2018-12-06 02:22

    Three stars, but reaching higher. Omnibus review:Will Christopher Baer is a more respectable version of Chuck Palahniuk. They’re very similar—both are dark, first-person storytellers with a predilection for the twisted underworld of sex and violence—but I’d place Baer more on the side of dark storyteller and Palahniuk on the side of shock writer. Plus Palahniuk bled one narrator into (many, but for sure his initial) four novels; Baer just accepted his love for that voice and made a trilogy.The Phineas Poe trilogy—Kiss Me, Judas; Penny Dreadful; and Hell’s Half Acre—is narrated by the disgraced ex-cop turned ex-junkie of the same name. In Kiss Me, Judas, Poe wakes up in a bathtub full of ice, missing a kidney. He spends the rest of the novel chasing the hooker, Jude, who stole it from him, bumping into other characters—some friends, some enemies—and inadvertently dragging them into this mess, if they weren’t involved already. Though the novel is a dark neo-noir, it is also sophomoric. Usually adding the term sophomoric to any review (since authors are supposed to be the deft and mature minds of the world) is a slight, but it works in Kiss Me, Judas. Hell’s Half Acre sheds a bit of the noir skin, but ends the series strong as Poe and the other surviving characters participate in the making of a snuff film in which no one knows who is going to be the one to die.The problem is Penny Dreadful. Most fans of the series are split on this middle book. You either think it’s the best or the worst of the three. Unlike Kiss Me, Judas and Hell’s Half Acre, Penny Dreadful jumps through several character’s viewpoints, most of which end up sounding far too similar. Phineas Poe unknowingly enters into “the game of tongues”—a subcultural game turned deadly when one of the role players begins killing people instead of simply biting their tongue to claim victory. The problem? It’s incredibly dorky. We’re talking LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) dorky.Where Kiss Me, Judas and Hell’s Half Acre are four star and 3.5 star reads respectively, Penny Dreadful is a two star shoulder shrug of what it should have been—a mild side note to a much longer novel or a different novel that didn’t involve Phineas Poe. The events that take place in Penny Dreadful seem more set apart, disconnected from the bookend novels. The minor Kiss Me, Judas characters could have been involved, made it a fun side-by-side comparison of the universe Will Christopher Baer has created, but the force of the love/hate relationship between Jude and Phineas Poe is diluted by what should have been a small plotline. Though the trilogy is graphic in violence and sexual abuse (including gang rape), Baer also displays scenes of incredible tenderness in this twisted mess, perhaps more tender because of coldness of the surrounding text. Flashback scenes to Poe’s terminally diseased wife are some of the trilogy’s finest. Despite the flaws of Penny Dreadful and what can be viewed as too many loose ends come the end of Hell’s Half Acre, Baer has crafted a sleek, quick-read trilogy for fans of the darker side of fiction. Three stars.

  • Cindy
    2018-11-19 22:37

    Every sentence of this book was premeditated. Just how I like it. I can usually care less about what's going on if the language is beautiful. I don't like poems but I enjoy poetic writing. This book was an epic. The author is very well read, and he's slightly enamored with J.D. Salinger...he references him a lot. His work was hard to get into. The first chapter was shaky and seemed like it needed editing. But once I got past it, I was hooked. I love Jude. I didn't really enjoy book 2 of the trilogy because she wasn't included. I still think my favorite was book 1, but not by much. The first book was vague enough to make perfect sense. In this book, Jude is vulnerable and unstable, which is unusual for her. The book ended how I wanted it to end, but I'm still somewhat disappointed.

  • Luke
    2018-11-13 22:22

    Oh, how I'd missed Jude, my biggest literary crush since Marla Singer or Lauren Hynde (though, she could dismember both with her bare hands). Just a mind blowingly good novel. I absolutely loved 'Kiss Me, Judas', and was very skeptical at everyone who told me the other books in the trilogy were even better, but after reading them, I completely agree. 'Hell's Half Acre' was definitely my favorite of the three, and that's saying something. I genuinely wish I could have my memory erased in some kind of 'Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind' procedure so I could read this trilogy all over from scratch. Now that Craig Clevenger has finally finished his new novel 'Mother Howl', all we can do is hope Baer releases 'Godspeed' sometime this decade. Godspeed, Will Baer, Godspeed.

  • James
    2018-11-29 06:41

    Given how much I loved the first two books of this trilogy, I stayed away from this book for a very long time because, well, how could I be anything but disappointed?But I should not have stayed away, because, while I will admit that it's not as good as the first two (there are stray sentimental strands that Baer seems unable to help himself from excluding), it's still THE RETURN OF JUDE (who isn't in the second book, by the by), and so it's still entirely worthwhile.I'm really looking forward to whatever Baer writes next, and I think that leaving Poe behind him can only work for the better.

  • Lauren
    2018-12-04 03:41

    I enjoyed this book more than the others in this series. I do feel as if this was the second book in the series, and the Penny Dreadful book was kind of out in left field. You can see how his writing has evolved and it was much easier to follow the story line this time around. I really do feel as if the second book wasn't his favorite and he decided to get back on the track he was originally going with the Jude vs Poe vs insanity vs the bad guys vs internal desperation vs the world. Entertaining, easy, quick read. Definitely glad I gave it a chance and didn't give up because of Penny Dreadful.

  • Linus
    2018-11-28 04:22

    Terrific. My personal favorite of the trilogy. It's sort of cute how Baer tries to cover up certain links from the previous books (i.e., the sly hint at Jude's allusion to Penny Dreadful's Game of Tongues when she tries it on Phineas). But anyway… this book seemed like the most focused out of all three. There weren't so many fluctuations in plot for one thing. There was just one plot arc that took longer to develop, and allowed Phineas more of his own voice and interiority. I think what we enjoy most about these noir psycho thrillers is the protagonist having to come out of some fucked up situation he's faced with, which was basically what Hell's Half Acre is about: Phineas Poe trying to prove not to be just a big old dummy.. that's the only way I can think of to describe it anyway.John Ransom Miller is a very compelling psychopath. His introduction in the beginning makes you wonder, "Will the rest of the book back up the character outline we first get of him?" and sure enough he is a really perfect villain. The ending scene is also the best ending of all three books, even better than Kiss Me, Judas, because of the weird moodswings and everything.This is the second piece of fiction that has successfully ripped off Glamorama and done a way better job—the first being Zoolander of course. But of course W.C. Baer is way more articulate than Bret Easton Ellis and does a way better job of conveying a protagonist's world not being differentiated from that of a movie, because in this case it actually makes sense. Poe is basically insane and can't view the world as real, as he's said before, and Baer pulled it off well. I wish I could say more about this book but there's else nothing really. The ending was in fact too good. I found myself short of breath.. even forced a tear.. but Aaaaanyway..

  • Logan
    2018-12-07 03:15

    With HELL'S HALF ACRE we're back to a Phineas Poe/ Jude story after the bizarre, surrealistic mindfuck that was PENNY DREADFUL. PENNY DREADFUL was definitely a little detour after KISS ME, JUDAS, and HELL'S HALF ACRE sort of gets us back on track.Sort of.There's still something a bit PENNY DREADFUL about HELL'S HALF ACRE. And that's the meandering tendency that Baer created in PD. We sort of start at D wind up at W, go back to A, and end on N.That kind of thing. And the way everything goes, you don't really know where you're headed.You didn't really know where you were headed in KISS ME, JUDAS, either, but it felt a little more fluid.I think that has everything to do with that first book being a little more compact and a little less complicated.Like PD, HELL'S HALF ACRE is chock-full of characters. Like, a ton. And, like PD, Phineas spends half the book kind of wandering around the town the story takes place in. Baer has some kind of Ulysses kick that started with PD, I think.And, like PD, we're not really privy to the characters' motivations for remaining in the hells they've created for themselves.Anyway, given all that, if I actually talk about the STORY of this book, I'd easily give up too much too quickly. Or I'd get lost telling it.I'm already writing this review like Phineas would, and I'm worried I'll spook you. This book is a big kerplunk of cement in your gut. That's how it goes.The sky was pink, the color of muscle. And so on.

  • Gary
    2018-11-24 02:30

    The new trends being explored in neo-noir are impressive. Perhaps no author/voice in the genre is more interesting and compelling than Christopher Baer. The staples of noir are all intact here, although not always immediately recognizable. The themes are dark and the action is violent. The protagonist is guided by a moral compass, which rusty though it may be, results in a great deal of personal conflict. Therein is the real attraction of neo-noir. Protagonist Phineas Poe is a protagonist living in an abysmally cruel world in which he does and does not belong. To say he is deeply conflicted is a gross understatement. For the world in which is lives is undeniably of his own making, at least partially. As a character, Poe is intensely flawed: a sometimes nihilist, a drug addled ex-cop, and murderer in his own right. Yet there is still something undeniably sympathetic about Poe. He is not amoral, at least not when it counts, and especially not when compared to his foil, John Ransom Miller. Make no mistake this is a dark novel. But the writing is at times salient, and Baer almost waxes poetic--thankfully and wisely, not giving in fully to the impulse. The result is quite extraordinary--a wonderfully written novel of bleak, bleak substance. Highly recommended for noir fans and beyond.

  • Petabyte
    2018-11-14 23:31

    This is my second attempt to finish this book.Despite - or maybe because of its manic energy, this books reads at a fast clip. Not even a day and I'm already past the halfway mark, doggedly following the distracted (imagined?) misadventures of Kiss Me, Judas's ex-cop antihero protagonist Phineas Poe despite my internal clock's best efforts to start my nightly allotment of sweet, sweet sleep. Other readers accustomed to light, airy things might find the narrative of drugs, sex, violence appaling. For the rest of you who enjoy a tale so twisted it's no biggie getting back on the main track (and Hell's Half Acre reads just like you missed your exit on the interstate - go a little further and you'll find your way again), it's quite the sick/pleasurable ride.Eta. Finished 27 November.

  • Carol
    2018-12-03 05:36

    So far, this is disappointing. Hell's Half Acre is the third in a series of trippy thrillers by a guy a went to high school with. The tales are of Phineas Poe, a junkie ex-cop. The first in the series is Kiss Me, Judas, which I can recommend for a good ride, crisp and surprising. In the first book our protagonist gets his kidney stolen by a beautiful assassin, who he later falls in love with. The second novel follows easily with the prerequisite violence, drugs, sick attitude towards women. In this third novel I am still interested in Phineas (call me sick), but the language is tired and overthought. See, "I try to imagine how Jude feels, how it would feel to be a woman raped and mutilated. She is still stupidly beautiful, to my mind." Ugh. Can I finish this?

  • Maaz Sheik
    2018-11-26 00:27

    “Anything you can imagine is probably true.” I had finished this book exactly two weeks ago, and still the book is clear in my head.A great ending to the trilogy I must say and the ending scene is also the best ending of all three books. I won't write much so I'll just say that Poe shall be missed.“You turn around and another chunk of your life drifts by like unrecognized trash and it was never yours to begin with.”

  • Brian
    2018-11-21 01:27

    i try not to review the same author more than once on here, but i will break these rules for my favorites. of which baer is most certainly one. the rad conclusion to the phineas poe trilogy, it's every bit as dark and weird as the others, but with more tom waits references. and that's always good by me.

  • Lee Gibson
    2018-11-19 22:40

    Phineas has reunited with Jude and the end is near. Oblivion is just over the horizon and they are speeding towards it as fast as they can. Maybe they can settle down and grow old together? Let's not kid ourselves.

  • Mkwoa
    2018-11-16 06:30

    Worth reading. The film was intriguing and unsettling, and the last half of the book was very captivating. However, the whole trilogy just seems so disjointed. There were some very interesting ideas and stories, but nothing seemed to fit, and there really didn't seem to be an end.

  • Scott
    2018-11-16 01:23

    Best book I've read in years. He goes way out there. Makes you wish a world like this really existed. But you should read Kiss Me Judas first, but its not as good. You just need it for the context.

  • Neospooky
    2018-11-28 05:32

    Better than Penny Dreadful but still not measuring up to Kiss Me, Judas, Hell's Half Acre is a solid installment in the Phineas Poe saga. Baer, as I said before, sets a mood and doesn't go where you want him to which amplifies the sense of discomfort his novels engender.

  • Shaun
    2018-11-14 02:14

    It definitely kepy my attention throughout the whole book. It was very well written and full of twists and turns. Murder, sex, drugs, kidnapping, blackmail, and amputees, all of the ingredients to a good book.

  • Lizy
    2018-11-20 06:43

    So this book. I hated most of the characters in it and I spent 75% of the book ranting about Jude and how much I hate her. But the last 20 pages or so wrap up the whole series so well that I can forgive any faults. It's a great read. Crazy, but great.

  • Robb
    2018-11-20 06:16

    Bring back Jude, throw in some Apotemnophilia, and you've got something I find staggeringly better than either of the previous two. The end was great, the middle was great, and the beginning was great. Awesome book, and awesome series.

  • michele
    2018-11-21 23:21

    I really enjoyed the way WCB continued Poe's story bringing you back to the secondary characters of Kiss Me Judas. It was a great escape from my personal reality and his writing style was adjusted from the first book to the second to clarify the sudden scene changes and internal character shifts.

  • Glenn
    2018-11-20 00:29

    Third and final in the Phineas Poe trilogy, and just as dark and disturbing as the first two (Kiss Me, Judas and Penny Dreadful). They're not for everybody, but they do hold your interest throughout.

  • Matthew Morrison
    2018-12-03 00:39

    I loved this. It's weird and a little graphically violent, but he writes like a poet. My favorite of the Phineas Poe books.

  • Tetsu Ishikawa
    2018-12-03 23:20

  • Hudak
    2018-12-03 01:20

    27. a trilogy (III)

  • Denese
    2018-11-23 01:31

    Tried twice to read--too gruesome.

  • Morgan Chalfant
    2018-11-29 02:32

    Baer has a knack for description, of characters and surroundings, that makes a rather mediocre story never get boring. His characters feel real, which also elevates any shortcomings.

  • Justin Nixon
    2018-12-05 03:14

    Good book. Penny Dreadful is still my favorite from the trilogy though.