Johnny Gruesome is a heavy metal horror novel, while not especially gory, manages to be quite gritty. In Johnny Gruesome, the lead villain is Johnny Grissom, an angry young man who has a vendetta against the world. He is best friends with Eric Carter, who is a bit more clean cut and lacks Johnny’s bitterness. Despite his anger, Johnny is a likeable character and Lamberson does a good job of crafting well-developed characters throughout the novel. On one fateful night, Johnny is murdered by one of his friends while Eric and Johnny’s girlfriend do nothing to stop it. That sets off a chain of events that really get the novel moving.
Eric and company cover up the murder to make it look like an accident. Later Johnny finds a way to re-animate and come back from the dead. When Johnny comes back from the dead, his anger has intensified ten-fold and he wants revenge on the town and specifically those who had something to do with his death.
Johnny Gruesome is a thoroughly enjoyable, fast paced horror story. Lamberson uses a very visual style in his writing. The novel often plays out like a movie, which might have much to do with the author’s background in film. There is sufficient tension throughout as Gruesome begins a killing spree in the town he grew up in. The one thing I would have preferred is a bit more detail in some of the killings. When Gruesome takes his first few victims, the author completely skips over these scenes and then covers the aftermath. I would have preferred to see the actual killings, but hey you can’t have everything. The buildup and the climax is quite effective. By the end of the story, Lamberson finally does show the bloody details of the killings, which I appreciated it. The ending did not disappoint. All in all, a fun read that will leave the reader satisfied.