Hungry Rats

Mystery & Thrillers

By Connor Coyne

Publisher : Gothic Funk Press

ABOUT Connor Coyne

Connor Coyne
Connor Coyne grew up in Flint, Michigan, and has lived in Chicago and New York City. He received his Bachelors from the University of Chicago and his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (Fiction) from the New School. He has written plays, poetry, essays, short stories, and novels.< More...


The Rat Man, a serial killer, is on the loose in Flint, Michigan, and nobody can stop him. Except you, Meredith Malady, a high-school girl with a dysfunctional family and a score to settle. Running away from home is the first step, but where will you stay? How will you survive? And what will you do when you meet the Rat Man face to face? Connor Coyne's debut novel, described by Heartland Prize-winning author Jeffery Renard Allen as "an emotional and aesthetic tour de force," is told in gripping second-person. An unknown narrator speaks to Meredith as she struggles to tie together the threads of her own history and to bring a killer to justice.

In 2003, I was a starving artist, emphasis on the word "starving," and I decided to move back to Flint for the summer to get some more writing done. The plan was to work part-time and to live off a bit of money I'd saved up while temping in Chicago. The cost of living is a lot less in Flint, so I got a job as a dishwasher (night-shift on weekends) at the famous Angelo's Coney Island, and I took out a lease on Maryland Ave. near Iowa. The Eastside is a rapidly changing neighborhood with a few landlords leasing apartments to dozens, or hundreds, of families. Things change year-by-year and block-by-block, and this particular block was just then taking a turn for the worse. At the same time, I heard about a writing project called National Novel Writing Month, in which one creates a 50,000-word novel draft between November 1st and November 30th. I started planning, and quickly decided that I wanted to write a noirish mystery. I thought it would be fun to write in second person, and I dimly imagined activating some menace from an long, unburied past nosing its way into the present. But what do do and where to begin? One night -- it might have been July, or it might have been August -- my girlfriend and I went out for a pleasant drive. We left the city long after dark and grabbed a late meal at a coney island up near the reservoir. We drove back into Flint, the long way around, checking out the old mansions and willow-heavy parks on the southwest side; Woodcroft where the most famous engineers and executives from the world's largest corporation used to live. Then, I drove back home around Kearsley Park, a beautiful old space modeled on Olmstead and Vaux's New York spaces. This put me on a notorious thoroughfare with a lot of abandoned shacks and vacant lots, so I wasn't too surprised when I saw a sack of garbarge lying in the middle of the road. "Oh, that's nice," I thought, when I realized that the sack was open, spilling trash into the street. And then I suddenly saw that the trash wasn't trash, but a human being. We sped home and called 911 at once. The newspaper typically reports homicides with clocklike reliability, and nothing was posted in subsequent days, so I assume that the person we saw wasn't dead; perhaps she had gotten drunk and passed out. I probably won't ever know for sure. Certainly, I wish and hope that nothing serious happened there. Later, I recalled another story a friend had told me; probably made up, probably to frighten me. We were camping on Lake Michigan (in those days, you really could camp out on the Warren Dunes parking lot for five dollars), and on one particularly foggy night he told me that he had seen three people in black robes, wading into the lake, lifting their arms to the sky for God knows what reason. I've really been blessed in life; I'm luckier than most people I know, so much so that I often don't know what to do about it. It is both bizarre and a little unsettling that this novel, soon to be published, is so firmly rooted in my own experiences, which are themselves, isolated and non-representational. That said, I can own this: If you read Chapter One here, I lived in Meredith's house. I've seen things that she has seen and I've heard things that she has heard, and they all combined in 2003, and in five minutes there I knew the plot of the novel I've been developing for the last seven years. Funny, huh?

"Hungry Rats is an emotional and aesthetic tour de force about deep matters of the human heart. Author Connor Coyne shows why the novel is still the most important medium to write about what matters in a manner that matters."
-- Jeffery Allen,
Author of Rails Under My Back
Winner of the Heartland Prize for fiction

"Connor Coyne has created a richly imagined world full of surprises for his strange and wonderful characters. This work is wickedly funny and sinfully dark. I found myself both delighted and repulsed, often at the same time!"
-- Arlene Malinowski
Playwright and Performer
Author of What Does the Sun Sound Like?

"Hungry Rats is an intense, gripping story of a family of outcasts and deviants. In confident, purposeful, evocative prose, Connor Coyne places you in a family where no one is watching out for you, and you had better watch your back."
-- Leila Sales
Author of Mostly Good Girls