Followers of Dave Johnston have discovered this interesting and unique presentation called Sixty Minute Reads. Do they take sixty minutes to read? Maybe, it depends on how much the reader wants to invest in exploring tangents that Johnston inspires. I liked Atomic Number Sixty which I reviewed elsewhere on this site and looked forward to what Johnston would come up with next. This story, Massacre of the Sixty is also entertaining in content and interesting in organization. For this one, there must be a bit of suspension of disbelief in martial arts prowess of the characters but the objective is entertainment so, be prepared to be entertained.
The sixty-minute theme is explored in at least three ways. Externally, this is flash fiction and a reader might read it in sixty minutes. Secondly, in content, there is a fight contest to the death where the winner will be the only one of sixty contestants left alive. The fight takes place in a stadium where new contestants are added at predictable times in groups of six. At least, that was the plan. The entire contest takes place in sixty minutes. It is easy to note that those released early in the contest fight the most; stamina of an early winner will be severely tested. Holly is an early contestant. Third, the theme is followed when we find that Holly has a body clock with accuracy that rivals the Atomic clock. Despite vigorous efforts in the stadium, her body clock tells her when new contestants will enter the arena. This becomes part of her strategic planning.
So where did all these contestants come from? They are basic scum-of-the-earth criminal types invited to the contest by a supreme scum-of-the-earth leader of an organization called the Hollow Falx. They are a secret, evil organization. Holly is part of a secret, good organization although we might get into the end justifies the means argument here. Holly’s boss entered her in the contest to find out everything about the Hollow Falx so it could be righteously destroyed. But to do that, Holly must survive the contest which means she must kill anyone opposing her.
There is an immediate contradiction here. This is the Massacre of the Sixty. Even if Holly wins, she is still one of the sixty. This is not the massacre of the fifty-nine. Readers will want to stick around to see how that works out.
We, the omniscient readers, know how this is going to work out, we just don’t know how. So where are the spoilers? I found them in the several (more like many) insertions of clever humor. I can’t report them but the reader will be entertained by some of the clever wordplays.
If you can’t stand descriptions of violence, this might not be the novel for you. But if you can see some humor in a fighting contestant armed with a flamethrower who manages to toast her own feet, read on. I found this read great fun.