The growing tribes of feral hogs spreading across the 450-square-mile Texas Cross Barr cattle ranch are about to get a snout full of trouble. The humans, a looney bunch to be sure, suffering from ranch fever, hired unsuspecting Ray Puzo, an ex-Special Forces sniper struggling with PTSD, to exterminate the hogs. After spending 17 years dealing with death in Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan, how hard could it be to take out a few herds of wild hogs soiling the grazing land?
Puzo quickly discovers that these aren’t just any wild feral ranch hogs. The beasts can talk, walk on their hind quarters wielding knives, and are armed with a menagerie of weaponry gathered by raiding pawn shops. They wear togas and Homburgs, smoke stogies, and spliffs of wild hemp. With names like Julius Caesar Pepperoniopolis, Reichsfuhrer Genghis of Cannes, Julius Caesar Pepperoniopolis, Dr. Geronimo Rex, Idi Amen, and John Quincy McPig, it’s a safe bet that they’re not going to end up next to eggs benedict on a breakfast plate.
Once the first murders hit the hog community, targeting even their sows and piglets, Puzo unpens something that’s nothing short of madness as the hogs convene their senate. They’re not about to take the assault lying in the mud reading a new thriller they liberated from the local Dollar Store.
The hired gun doesn’t know how the wild hogs have become super intelligent mutants morphed into brainy tenderloins with an attitude (that was thanks to radiation and other military experimental mischiefs in the boondocks). But he knows he must get reinforcement before it becomes hand-to-hoof combat. His bunkhouse battalion is a collection of cowpokes, vaqueros, schemers and slimeballs, ne’er-do-wells, and hangers-on, all threatened that the sniper’s presence will upset their gravy train.
At the ranch house, Puzo’s raging a different kind of battle. Morning, noon, and night, he’s stalked into submission by beautiful Loretta Cross, the family’s unbalanced and dangerous nymphomaniac daughter. Her mother, the eccentric life-hardened matriarch Amanda Cross proves to Puzo that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. There’s also verbal sparring with the Cross’ ranch heir, Ned, and his spiteful gay lover. Ray discovers he’s somehow now engaged to Loretta and must deal with the petty testosterone reeking from the bunkhouse. While struggling to formulate a plan to outwit the increasingly aggressive and tactical hogs, he’s not had time to consider why the family patriarch is confined to a wheelchair. And why everyone wants the old man dead?
As Puzo and the ranch hands gain ground in the hunt, Pol Pot, Sr., head of the Hog Senate, discovers his No. 1 son has been murdered, roasted, and eaten by the humans. The hog leadership convenes to declare a Jihog holy war against the murderers. As Molotov cocktails catapult and bullets from automatic weapons fly, Puzo has moments to decide whether to advance or ditch ranch life for a beach bar somewhere.
Hog Wild by Jonathan Woods is a spoof of all things pulp noir and dystopian modern western; it’s a sex farce with a trough-full of satiric magic realism thrown in. The Cross Bar Ranch family makes the old Ewing’s of Dallas seem like right proper, lovely churchgoin’ folk. It’s irreverent, rowdy, raunchy, and politically incorrect. Leave your good taste and inhibitions at the door, and you’ll be in hog heaven.
In addition to Hog Wild, Jonathan Woods is the author of A Death in Mexico and Kiss the Devil Good Night, as well as two collections of short stories. Learn more about Hog Wild, its author, and his other books on Facebook and at www.southernnoir.com