I love the writing in this short story collection. As evidenced by lines like "some men are just bitter borne" from Killing O'Malley and "life is burdI love the writing in this short story collection. As evidenced by lines like "some men are just bitter borne" from Killing O'Malley and "life is burden enough without the added weight of imagined sorrows" from Requiem For Moe.
THE BROOKLYN RULES by Reed Farrel Coleman, while not introducing long time readers of Coleman's work to anything new, does provide some nice Easter eggs for fans - notably, a couple of cameos by Bruen's penultimate ad-hoc PI, Jack Taylor in Requiem For Moe and Requiem For Jack.
The six short stories that comprise this collection act as an introduction to Reed's writing, providing bite size chunks of noir/hardboild while also serving as a taste of what to expect in his longer forms of fiction featuring his most renowned character in Moe Prager.
"Hey, at least she's alive, right?"
My favourite is Pearl, which tells the story of an escort who watched her father rape her sister, only for the sister to then commit suicide. Following this (years later), the escort is shot by the partner of one of her clients. It's noir from begining to end and left me with a craving for more.
"I was the king fixter, the sultan of solutions...I knew I had been dethroned."
Another favourite of my mine was King Fixer; A jaded mistress, a cheater with a way out, an unavoidable murder. Double cross condensed in a bite size chunk of noir. It's a great short story that reads longer.
"No sound like it, breaking a man's shins"
The other standout is Bathead Speed, in which a hitman gets hit by the daughter of one of his former targets. It serves as the perfect way to conclude the collection while providing depth to Coleman's cast of characters outside of the Moe Prager series.
THE BROOKLYN RULES, despite it's length (most readers will get through it in well under an hour) is well worth checking out. Of the six stories, I was only familiar with one (Requiem For Moe) from the DAMN NEAR DEAD collection and enjoyed reading more of Moe and the other stories in this noir enriched collection.
Escape into eroticism, the penultimate sleaze pulp homage that is PINK FACTORY drips pornographic propaganda paraphrased in pulse pounding paragraphsEscape into eroticism, the penultimate sleaze pulp homage that is PINK FACTORY drips pornographic propaganda paraphrased in pulse pounding paragraphs seductively penned in short stories and entertaining/ informative essays.
Teasing the taboo and running a calloused hand over the firm embodiment of sexuality this latest instalment of Crime Factory arouses the suspicion of what is often said but not heard. The short stories that comprise this latest instalment introduce the reader to a world not unlike their own, yet one that is without inhibition and spotlights the sex industry in its many incarnations.
Fiction as foreplay, Fanning for Man by Criseyda Lake stars proceeding andisoddly one of the more subdued pieces. Quickly introducing a young woman on the brink; her desires drowning her senses in a haze of wanton need. A public display of affection leads to a deeper questioning of her ability to commit to more than a quick fix with a willing companion. A quickie that wets the appetite.
He by Louis Bravos switches focus to a casual encounter aboard public transport that leads to a very erotic conclusion inside a love hotel. While Pain and Suffering by Julia Madeline explores the master/slave complex with a hint at something murderous on the horizon.
The Cumsluts of Oz by L. Scott Jose depicts a spin on reality television and the webcam industry – one where the stars are rarely clothed. Catering to the humorous and the horny alike it’s one of the best short stories in PINK FACTORY. I particularly liked the time taken to make the characters three dimensional, Smoo and Samantha’s relationship is a real highlight. Another of my favourites is Suitcase Pimp by Michael S. Chong, a seductive tale about actress working and falling for her porno star idol Jess Diamond, resulting in her boyfriend being left on the outer only to succumb to the frailties of love in an industry that requires a degree of emotional detachment. It’s a tale of murder, love, lust and betrayal; noir perfected in porno.
Buran by Koray introduces a fictitious world of f#cking, fighting, and fantasy where combatants collide in a deadly embrace leading to slicing, submission and penetration; best summarised as fornication in fighting.
Through Windows by Paul Heatley takes to the Peeping Tom pervert and couples it with experimentation/exploitation sex that has a profound effect on a 17yr olds life. While stories like Go See Gertie by Gin Oliver and The Wolves of Budapest offer more diversity, not only within the sex trade but genre fiction.
Adding to the enjoyable collection of stories are essays covering all angles; from superheroes, unorthodox and illegal use of animal farms, music, and pulp books to name a few. Not only does PINK FACTORY provide the reader with a form of erotic escapism but also educates through well researched and engaging nonfiction essays.
Jason Starr’s SLOW BURN tells the tale of Justin Fate, a teenager victimised by bullies, segregated from his friends, and the harbinger of a unique abJason Starr’s SLOW BURN tells the tale of Justin Fate, a teenager victimised by bullies, segregated from his friends, and the harbinger of a unique ability – one that allows him to burn objects when provoked. By virtue of a hot temper and a long seeded desire for vengeance, Fate’s teenage life has been dominated by those all too eager to inflict pain and suffering. All this unwarranted attention comes to ahead when he focuses his anger into a gift draws Toyo Harada, founder of the Harbinger Foundation to the outcast teen.
This kindle words short story is brimming with characters and familiar concepts from the Harbinger comics by Josh Dysart and Valiant Entertainment including Livewire, Flamingo, and Harada yet it still brings plenty originality and sits perfectly well outside the ongoing series.
Given the depth and scope of possibilities Starr had to choose from, SLOW BURN feels a little close to the comics with the Renegades and popular foundation members playing parts in Fate’s ultimate realisation of powers and subsequent capture by Harada’s members. Still, it’s an enjoyable quick read that showcases what Starr is capable of – makes me which Valiant would get him on a Harbinger character spoltlight mini to compliment Dysart’s rich world within the broader Valiant Universe. ...more
Within the stories of THE TOBACCO-STAINED SKY therein lies Deviants, Seekers, The Dome, milk, Floyd Maquina, and other such familiars depicted againstWithin the stories of THE TOBACCO-STAINED SKY therein lies Deviants, Seekers, The Dome, milk, Floyd Maquina, and other such familiars depicted against an inner city backdrop that really encompasses all the nooks and crannies of a city that's become it's own world.
The narrative is kept fresh by diversifying the stories and adding a splash of comic book inspired storytelling. Everything about this collection oozes the familiar while bringing something new and exciting to what already is considered a deep and satisfying fictional landscape.
The list of contributors is pretty impressive. Andrez Bergen chimes in with a few stories, Julie Morrigan's 'Sancity' revisits the time when Wolram E. Deaps died , Jay Slayton-Joslin delves into the rare and highly valuable milk commodity in 'The Great Milko of the People', Josh Stalling's 'Dream Juice' is one of the best in which the horror of a nurses station and the hope of freedom is both realized and washed away, as is 'The Holy Church of the Scalpel' by Liam Jose - a story that plays on physical enhancement and misguided beauty in a world that has moved on. 'Plan E' by Gordon Highland pits unlicensed health professional trying to do good in a place where kindness is considered a weakness, while Chad Eagleton's 'Blood on the Milky Way' picks up where THE TOBACCO-STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT left off, as the first prose story, it really set the tone for the rest of the anthology.
I could go on and on about the remaining stories as pretty much all are of high quality and do a great job of recreating the unique world Andrez Bergen originally created. But best to go out and read it yourself.
An anthology of the undead which is as diverse as it is scary. APPALACHIAN UNDEAD tests the bloody red waters of zombie fiction and comes out dripping with new ideals, portrayals and messages.
Spanning 21 stories linked by the Appalachian mountains place-setting, the horror aspect is thick and heavy - inducing fear and terror in every corner of the landscape be it dilapidated dwellings, abandoned mines or the forest-like terrain. Influences of Romeo's famous zombie creations, The Walking Dead, and another pop culture theme tie ins are rife throughout the anthology. However, the diversification of the undead themselves separates the anthology from the stereotype while still maintaining the familiar.
Moonshine reanimates the dead, starting slowly with animals before creating the undead in 'When Granny Comes Marchin' Home' by Elizabeth Massie. In ''Company's Coming' by Ronald Key, the good and bad are hard to distinguish as the living are portrayed in an unfavourable light while a band of undead keep keep an elderly woman company - feeling more human than their living counterparts.
'Sitting Up With The Dead' by Bev Vincent is classic horror. A deadly plague ravishes a community reanimating the dead from their graves. This one is for the b-grade horror enthusiasts. While 'Calling Death' by Jonathan Maberry echoes horror from the black depths of a mine. A survivor slowly trudges towards the entrance in hopes in claiming a safe haven only to find decay and death waiting. Both of these stories had a distinct sense of place-setting and atmospheric horror.
Moonshine and porch rocking chairs are common throughout the stories, 'We Take Care Of Our Own' by John Everson is one of my favourite stories in this anthology. Moonshine, once again is the cause of the undead yearning for live meat. In this take, Everson creates a macabre small town factory where the production workers are chained and the dead feed off out of towners.
Hell rains down from the sky in 'Long Days To Come' by K. Allen Wood. 'Almost Heaven' by Michael Paul Gonzalez gives the zombies a voice. 'Hell's Hollow' by Michael West has the reanimated reenact a fatal shoot-out year after year before returning to their graves. While 'The Girl and the Guardian' by Simon McCaffery sees a mysterious creature watch over a young girl as the zombie plague hits her home. These stories exemplify the diversity in this collection.
There are loads of enjoyable stories in APPALACHIAN UNDEAD, however the standouts for me are 'Spoiled' by Paul Moore - an atmospheric character driven horror where pregnancy and survival horror combine for a macabre tour de force. 'Sleeper' by Tim Lebbon is in line with the Walking Dead-like take on the genre. 'Being In The Shadow' by Maurice Broaddus sees a cop seek vengance for the dead of his partner at the hands of a shuffler. While 'Hide and Seek' by Tim Waggoner also provides the requisite thrills and chills.
There is a little something for all fans of horror within the blood smeared and gore encrusted pages of APPALACHIAN UNDEAD....more
PLOW THE BONES is a collection of surrealist fiction in short form by Douglas F. Warrick. The limits of his imagery are boundless with many of these sPLOW THE BONES is a collection of surrealist fiction in short form by Douglas F. Warrick. The limits of his imagery are boundless with many of these stories crossing into the deep confines of dreamscapes and nightmares.
Herein lies poetically depicted madness; a controlled chaos that's both eloquent and alarming. The pages of PLOW THE BONES are breathtaking at times by virtue of a perfect blend of otherworldly fiction and a balanced view of the realistic and macabre nature of humanity.
While I didn't connect with every story there were a number that held my attention: Come to my Arms, my Beamish Boy contains the rambled and disjointed thoughts of an Alzheimer's suffer as his mind deteriorates. Drag is a form of urban legend horror story where a heinous and murderous creature known as Ember Eyes terrorises a group of teens. Her Fathers Collection is haunting, plausible, and entirely disturbing - one of the best.
In Stickhead a zombie-like creature is discovered by a couple of boys. Its as much about the surreal nature of the story as it is the relationship between the tow boys. I liked this one, but it does require the reader to completely suspend their belief. Zen and the Art of Gordon Dratch's Damnation is a graphic depiction of eternal sufferance in the bowels of hell. This is not for the weak of stomach.
The highlight of the collection is Across the Dead Station Desert, Television Girl. An erotic tale of an AI sex worker which blurs the lines between reality and the digitised realm. The setting itself echoes post apocalyptic while the characters draw on desperation and need.
PLOW THE BONES is an acquired taste, yet there is something amongst the stories that will appeal to the majority of readers. The ghosts of this collection will haunt the reader long after the last page has been turned.
Vivid and beautifully written, PLOW THE BONES is a short story collection that captures the imagination and places it in a vice like grip, twisting, distorting, and molding the reader to its every will.
The blood encrusted pages of Midnight Echo #8 are dripping with the stuff of nightmares and are laced with a chilling realism that is equally as terriThe blood encrusted pages of Midnight Echo #8 are dripping with the stuff of nightmares and are laced with a chilling realism that is equally as terrifying as the fantastical images the short stories conjure. Comprising a ghoulish smorgasbord of some of today’s best in the business and a plethora of talented up and comers, the fiction is nothing short of top class. Bookend by a couple of zombie tales, the first a post outbreak event where the definition of monsters is clouded by the actions of the living showcases Joe R. Lansdale’s craftsmanship and fine appreciation of the genre by taking it to another level altogether. While PIGROOT FLAT by Jason Fischer flips the script on zombie horror by introducing an all too real horror amidst the dust and desolate Australian outback. I particularly liked the living dead in PIGROOT FLAT as being objectified as mere obstacles while the true horror flourishes behind the face of the living.
“She looked at him, her eyes bruises, her mouth and open wound, and screamed mutely. He didn’t hear her, but saw the bloody trail she left in her wake.” – THE GIRL FROM THE BORDERLANDS
In between the zombie mayhem lays tales of overzealous religious beliefs crossing the line towards the sketchy realm of insanity in BLISSFUL IGNORANCE by Matt Wedge, a distilled look at motherhood where trouble is alluded to through a veil of the surreal in JAR BABY by Michelle Jager, a terrorist interrogation spliced with horror in THEY DONT KNOW THAT WE KNOW WHAT THEY KNOW by Andrew J McKiernan, and a hard knock life look at the underprivileged and unwanted youth in THE BOY WITH THE HOLE IN HIS HEART by Caysey Sloan amongst others.
While all of these stories are decent reads, the best of a good bunch include THE GIRL FROM THE BORDERLANDS by Felicity Dowker which manages to convey the depth and detailed character driven story typically achieved through longer formats. HELLO KITTY by Jason Nahrung is an extremist portrait of the criminally insane where reality crosses the line towards batsh!t crazy. Joanne Anderton’s ALWAYS A PRICE requires a suspension of reality to afford the reader the luxury of getting lost in a world viewed through a veil of blood red horror. Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee’s SQUIRRELY SHIRLEY is more noir than horror yet provides the highlight by means of a former adulterer turned mass murderer in glorious gun toting fashion. TOOTH by Kathryn Hore puts the fear back into the dentist visit by way of a monstrous dark presence showing itself in alien-like fashion – one of the surprise stories of the collection and very enjoyable to read.
Spread throughout Midnight Echo #8 are poems, interviews (Jack Ketchum talks about his most renowned book THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, while Lee Battersby discusses his debut THE CORPSE-RAT KING and provides a glimpse towards his later projects), a comic, and standing features all giving the reader a healthy dose of the darkness. There are also promo slots for new Aussie horror books which have added to my ever growing TBR pile.
Midnight Echo #8 is a solid read from cover to cover. The folks responsible for this mag know their horror and are giving readers what they want. True to the editorial, Midnight Echo delivers hard edged horror across a number of mediums with terrifyingly good results.
Nine stories of pure Baltimore noir touching on the dire, dramatic, and dangerous lives of characters all destined to fail while experience a hell ofNine stories of pure Baltimore noir touching on the dire, dramatic, and dangerous lives of characters all destined to fail while experience a hell of hurt on the way to ruin. Opening with THIS WILL END WELL sets the tone for the collection, there is a hopeless beauty to Korpon’s poetic depiction of noir in this story with the three characters equally untrustworthy, dangerous and seriously good to read.
A SPARROW WITH WHITE SCARS draws the reader to the back alley bar brawls where vicious and violent events are as common as the dumpsters and debris cluttered earth behind the seedy establishments. INTERSECTIONS, one of the best in the collection has a tantalising revelation that left me salivating for more – this isn’t a typical hit and run tale, make no bones about it.
There were a couple stories that didn’t jell for me, THAT PALE LIGHT IN THE WEST, a dialogue driven story that was perhaps a tad short, and GLAS BUBBLE, the last story. That said, the majority of these stories were very good. ALEX AND THE MUSIC BOX was another of my favourites where a jilted ex finds himself witness to the murder of his former girlfriend while SHE SLEEPS BENEATH CLOUDS OF EMBERS was a nice take on the escort angle by which a customer pays for a rather unique service - masterfully conveyed confusion.
In HAYMAKER corrupt cops put the result of a boxing bout beyond doubt by taking out one of the combatants before a punch is thrown. HIS FOOTSTEPS ARE MADE OF SOOT shows the length some with go to forget when a man tries to rid the memory of his past by enlisting an unethical doctor eradicate the past from his memory – adding diversity to the bar rage fuelled collection.
Overall, BAR SCARS is a solid collection of short stories by one of my favourite authors in Nik Korpon. His Baltimore is dark, moody and evocative, the captured essence of noir. ...more
Australia - an island continent with a desolate inner landscape where heat rules and life has no way. The outer limits serve as an oasis for the populAustralia - an island continent with a desolate inner landscape where heat rules and life has no way. The outer limits serve as an oasis for the populace - a place to live, flourish, and thrive. Despite the shiny veneer and overseas promo hype lies a very different Australia. One where the hopelessness and hardness of the desert meets the bikini clad million dollar smiles of advertising. Grit meets girt by sea and no amount of water can wash away the dirt. 'Hard Labour', the all Australian crime anthology exemplifies this in a similar yet uniquely down-under way. Language as colourful as its characters, plots as sharp as its knife wielding crims - from tales of outback horror, traitorous hit men, MMA fighting, and cults, to not so common thieves, there is a little something here for everyone.
The anthology gets off to a great start with the first short story featuring Wyatt, Disher's own Aussie version of Parker (by Richard Stark) - the thief who's more common man than hard criminal. In 'Wyatt's Art', Wyatt faces a cross continent smuggling ring involving more than the product he's pushing. I liken this to 'Parker-lite' - the criminal element is there, however Wyatt is more of a thinking thief as apposed to violent hard man. Next up was 'Grassed' by Leigh Redhead (better known for her Simone Kirsch PI series) in which a physically mature 14yr old girl, Ananda is the object of 38yr Kyle's affection. This love story ends before it begins, only it's bones that break, not hearts. It was good to read something a little different by Redhead . 'Grassed' for me was on of the highlights of this collection.
The good thing about this anthology is the diversity in storytelling. 'Killing Peacocks' by Angela Savage writes a about a rural town where domestic violence extends its bloody tendrils to peacocks to cover a murder. The culprit, a petite package of innocence with lethal intentions uses her assets to reel in a scapegoat. 'The Town' by Cameron Ashley, and 'No Through Road' by Greig Johnston couldn't be more different, one looks at alcoholic squatters, the other gives new meaning to the term 'criminally insane'. I really liked Johnston's story, it was quick, precise and laced with dark humour. The lead criminal uses a sawed off antique shotgun for a robbery to net a measly score only to find out the shotgun he ruined was a collectable worth upwards of $10,000. Criminal masterminds at their best - not.
'Hard Labour' enlists some well known names in crime fiction in Helen FitzGerlad ('Killing Mum'), Adrian McKinty ('The Dutch Book'), and Peter Corris ('Prodigal Son') amongst others. While each of these stories were entertaining, McKinty's 'The Dutch Book' was the strongest and most involving. Written so well that it felt like a full length. In 'The Dutch Book' McKinty pits a small time collector against the organisation for the purpose of financial gain only to see friends, girlfriend and family safety net dwindle away. 'Prodigal Son' was the only true PI story in 'Hard Labour' and rounds out the anthology well while 'Killing Mum' was depressing, sober, and a glimpse at age old age no one wants to see.
To compliment the well known authors, a talented bunch of lesser knowns provides a glimpse at the future of Australian crime fiction. JJ Decegile's 'Death Cannot Be Delegated' is about an introspective compulsive gambler who is swayed by the allure of his targets provocative manner (oh and nakedness). The hit man switches allegiance in favour of a better deal. Quick, efficient and brutal. 'The Break' by Andrew Prentice is about a former cop charged with assault following a citizens arrest. The characters were well developed with the short story reading more as an opening chapter to a novel. I sure hope Prentice explores this further. 'A Forgiving Kind Of Nature' by Amanda Wrangles was surprisingly deep for a short story - I want more!
There are many highlights to 'Hard Labour', 'Underhooks' by Liam Jose had a semi 'Choke Hold' (by Christa Faust) feel to it yet was more raw, brutal and entertaining. I would love to see this fleshed out to a full length. A former mixed martial arts athlete is forced back into the ring following a stint in prison for killing a competitor. Cage fighting, sex on bloodied matts and hard hitting storytelling. 'Chasing Atlantis' by Andrew Nette (author of Ghost Money) contains cults, double crosses, murder, a hot dame, and thievery. One of the best. Rounding out my favourites is 'Dead Fellow Churls' by Andrez Bergen in which a drunk cop gets caught on a stake-out and has to rely on his partner, there is a distinct femme fatale feel to this. Like 'The Break', 'Dead Fellow Churls' felt like a novel teaser rather than short story - left me wanting more.
Much like any anthology there are good and average stories depending on the reader tastes. Luckily most of the shorts in 'Hard Labour' hit the mark. Crime Factory have served up a well rounded and diverse entree of Australian crime fiction which has left me craving a main course. I look forward to tracking down the Wyatt series by Disher, reading 'Ghost Money' by Andrew Nette and getting stuck into the novels by Andrez Bergen ('Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat'). My wishlist has grown by a few books thanks to 'Hard Labour'. This is a satisfying collection not to be missed - 4 stars. ...more
Like a cheap shot to the nether regions, these stories pack a sucker punch that’ll turn your mo’ upside down and smear that seersucker suit with gooeyLike a cheap shot to the nether regions, these stories pack a sucker punch that’ll turn your mo’ upside down and smear that seersucker suit with gooey pulp goodness. The second adventure men’s magazine aptly titled BLOOD AND TACOS is loaded with some of my favourite authors in Ray Banks (INSIDE STRAIGHT), Andrew Nette (GHOST MONEY), and Josh Stallings (OUT THERE BAD) amongst others equally good at spreading the love and war across the cheesy and remarkably dodgy characters that populate these cult-like stories.
In a first for me in reviewing short stories I’m not going to name favourites as all the stories within this collection are top notch pulp. Rather I’ll give a brief blow by blow account of the contents as they appear. Kicking things off with ‘End of the Renaissance’, Ray Banks introduces a blind hero like no other who uses his charm and fists to create an uprising against bad guys who had been using males as worker slaves and women as play things. It’s a hard hitting, violent and disturbingly good way to hop aboard the gravy laden pulp train. Sabrina Ogden then chimes in with a review of THE XANDER PURSUIT which is both entertaining and insightful. Despite the overall corny nature of the title, Ogden’s review wet my appetite for more. After that brief interlude, the stories return with ‘Never Say Good Night in Saigon’ by Jimmy Callaway which is what GI JOE would be if dropped in the middle of a E-grade action flick and asked to save the world with a tooth pick – oh yes, the All American type hero on foreign soil is all good. Tasked with recovering stolen infants who were housed inside Mama Tu’s nightclub, Mathes teams up with a local sergeant to retrieve the infants before any harm is done, along the way having to fight for his life using all manner of deadly weapons. ‘Never Say Good Night in Saigon’ is an excellent example at the hero-pulp persona done right.
‘Burn In’ by Frank Lanerd captures that 80’s urban crime feel perfectly yet adds a little spice by virtue of a surprisingly deep and well thought-out back story to both sides of the good and bad. Cruel is a mean mother whose street cred is enough to scare the toughest gangster – just not Mr. Bread, a thug who uses minions to do his dirty work. ‘Burn In’ explores pain like no short story I’ve read, the actions have deadly consequences and Cruel’s split second decision has long lasting ramifications. ‘Burn In’ is a certain highlight. Next up Matthew C Funk’s excerpt of an ‘interview’ with Agent Sniper provides a nice sidebar from the short stories and a glimpse of the maddened mind of a vet lost in his own action movie.
‘Operation Scorpion Sting’ by Andrew Nette is about a deadly assassin who isn’t afraid to take down any target if the price is right, It’s a delectable nod towards traditional Aussie themes with a protagonist as deadly with boomerangs as he is with women. When enticed by the danger of bringing down a drug syndicate operating in Bangkok, following fruitless attempt by local law enforcement, Thong sets his sights on the deadly Scorpion, head of the trafficking business and renowned bad guy. Reading this is akin to watching those old action flicks dominated by a one man army. I think this quote sums up Thong perfectly: “I’ve been killing so long, it’s like a second skin.”
Chingon has a cameo appearance by virtue of a list of series titles created by a pulp genius and commented by Johnny Shaw – the theme will make you laugh and cringe at the same time. With so many bad (good) idea’s I sure hope some see the light of day, especially more of Chingon.
Josh Stallings rounds out BLOOD AND TACOS #2 with ‘The G-String Gundown’ – what a title, need I say more? Despite the cheesy nature of the title, this short story is well characterised and a master of deception. The protagonist, a sexy young woman seeks revenge for wrongs done to her mother by three male youths many years back. In proving sex is a weapon, Stallings pits his heavenly woman against some tough characters, killing them softly without remorse. It’s violent, in-your-face, literary abuse that’s too good not to warrant further exploration.
Like the first instalment, BLOOD AND TACOS delivers what it sets out to achieve, pure pulp goodness – all hail the return of the pulp for in BLOOD AND TACOS mullets and moustaches are alive and well. ...more
'Blood and Tacos #1' is one hell of a good read. For pulp enthusiasts looking for something reminiscent of the 1970-mid 1980's era, look no further. J'Blood and Tacos #1' is one hell of a good read. For pulp enthusiasts looking for something reminiscent of the 1970-mid 1980's era, look no further. Johnny Shaw has put together a highly talented roster to contribute to the first installment of the quarterly men's magazine loaded with politically incorrect and over the top characters that will make you cringe and laugh at the same time. There are no sensitive or tree hugging happy-go lucky characters within these stories - rather the anti warm fuzzy, fast talking gun toting 'real men' and their curvaceous and ever willing dames.
Gary Phillips (of 'The Jook' fame) kicks off procedings with a shaft-like story of a sharp shooting Booker Essex and his thirst for vengence. Accompanied by a friends sister who also works undercover as a stripper the pair take on an entire operation of gangsters to bring their own form of gun smoking justice. I hope we get a chance to read more of The Silencer in further installments. 'The Silencer Strikes' is pure pulp and a perfect way to introduce readers to this concept.
Combat of the military kind is catered for with Matthew C Funk's 'Tiger Team Bravo in: Bonds of Blood' and 'Battleground U.S.S.A: Texasgrad' by Christopher Blair with the latter taking aim at a futuristic America which has been invaded by commies, where churches are blow-up for the hell of it and the warm blooded American women taken as slaves for the Russians - naturally there is a brave kick-a$$ American solider accompanied by some native Indians who make a stand and kill everything that moves, destroying vast enemy numbers and single handely taking back a town - unrealistic and entirely enthralling stuff. 'Bonds of Blood' for it's part has all the makings of a modern day thriller with a bit of Predator-style commando team hardness thrown in for good measure. There will be blood, Funk makes no bones about it - and it's all good.
'The Albino Wino in: Longhair Death Farm' by Cameron Ashley and 'Chingon, The World's Deadliest Mexican in: Blood and Tacos' by Johnny Shaw are the highlights of the collection. This was my first exposure to Cameron Ashley and I'm sure hope to discover more. 'Longhair Death Farm' introduces the Albino Wino, a protagonist like no other, a permanently drunk and charismatic albino who is himself a weapon of mass destruction and man of many lovers. In this installment, he's captured by a cult who believe the bones of albino's prolong life and provide enlightenment. It takes no time for the Albino Wino and his sexy accomplice to turn the tide and raise hell at the cult grounds. While Johnny Shaw's creation Chingon is a deadly Mexican and fierce lover. No man or women stands a chance when pitted against Chingon. I particularly liked the way Chingon referred to himself in the third person, adding to the cheesy nature of these stories.
In amongst the newly rediscovered stories are reviews of pulps past - these are a terrific insight into what was available back in the day and highlights just how much the quality has changed in storytelling (for the better). Each of these is entertaining and a pulp history lesson within its own right.
All in all, this is a fantastic concept - I hope the second installment maintains the momentum generated by this excellent pulp commodity - 5 stars. ...more
Had I been more familiar with the respective protagonists of these short stories, I can’t help but think I would’ve enjoyed this collection much more.Had I been more familiar with the respective protagonists of these short stories, I can’t help but think I would’ve enjoyed this collection much more. That said, Libby Fischer Hellman goes to great lengths to bring together a collection that’s a worthy addition to any fan of crime fiction. Her protagonists in Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis ooze feminism while not being afraid to mix it with hardened criminals. Comparisons to other strong female leads, notably Stella Hardesty (A Bad Day series by Sophie Littlefield) can easily be drawn. It was good to read a collection that wasn’t dominated solely by violence. Hellman does a great job at making her characters believable and grounded by real world problems, be it teenage daughters battling with emotions or trying to prove yourself in a male dominated police force – this insight allows the reader to view the world, not through a facade of fiction but a more human viewfinder.
On to the stories: THE DAY MIRIAM HIRSCH DISAPPEARED was by far the best. Miriam is caught up in a world of gangsters which leads to her death. She’s a beauty mixed in with the wrong kind yet admired from afar by many. Miriam is perhaps the most interesting character of the collection.
A WINTERS TALE showcases the twisted mind of a trophy wife and the lengths she goes to in order to cash in on her uneventful time with her husband. Unfortunately for all the males in her life – double crossing comes all too easily. Crime in the suburbs.
THE MURDER OF KATIE BOYLE provides an all too close to home glimpse of murder for Ellie and her daughter Rachel. Aiding an investigation to catch a killer she finds out more than she bargained for. A part police procedural and part drama.
COMMON SCENTS is up there with the better parts of this collection. Protagonist Georgina Davis investigates a case of physical abuse at a nursing home only to uncover something altogether different – a scam involving the use of deadly toxins masked in perfume. A quirky murder mystery – fun popcorn entertainment.
THE LAST RADICAL is about a group of 60’s bank robbers who have long gone into hiding and on with their everyday lives only to be outed by a neighbour who learns of a couple’s alternate lives during a blizzard. Much like COMMON SCENTS, there is a certain element of quirkiness and light heartedness to the mystery.
The title, a degree more suggestive of noir than the stories, led to me believe this collection would comprise more of the back alley, poetic prose and deadly females of film noir than the suburban crime contained amongst the 5 stories. The length and pacing of the 5 stories is spot on. Not once did they feel too short or too long. I also like the fact NICE GIRL DOES NOIR VOL.1 wasn’t bursting with stories. I think smaller collections allow for a greater capacity for future recollection. 3 stars. I suspect it wont be too long before 1 read VOL. 2. ...more
The characters that populate the dilapidated landscapes of Rawson’s ‘The Chaos We Know’ are reminiscent of grit under a fingernail – unsightly, and soThe characters that populate the dilapidated landscapes of Rawson’s ‘The Chaos We Know’ are reminiscent of grit under a fingernail – unsightly, and sometimes painful. Sure you can gnaw at it for a time but it can lead to frustration, a foul taste in the mouth, and a whole lot less fingernail leaving you prone to catching said nail (with the sensitive under-skin exposed) on clothing while getting dressed or performing any such menial activity to serve as a constant reminder that the grit was there and the hurt don’t stop simply ‘cos you extracted the visible. Yep, the characters of ‘The Chaos We Know’ are much like the proverbial grit though on a larger more fleshly scale - as analogies go, a more apt one fails me.
Comprising 22 stories of omnipresent oppression, this collection is the personification of noir. Rawson shelves all sense of nicety (the odd good deed pops up here and there re: ‘Ma’s Favourite Wife’) and elicits the darker nature of the human psyche - predominantly where lead characters are in a position of power (i.e law enforcement) as is evident in ‘Having His Cake’, and ‘The Blood, The Shattered Glass and All The Rest’. No one is safe, with treachery as rife as the burnt out prostitutes that loiter the blackened streets at night, ‘An Appointment with Larry’ attests to the sayng ‘trust no one’ while ‘My World Without Jenny’ merges the themes (treachery and prostitution).
Sure, this is dark, depressing, lifeless, and violent though survived by some crafty humour and snappy dialogue to lighten the mood. ‘Three Cops’ and ‘The Referral System’ come to mind as something sure to garner a laugh or two.
While most of the stories are memorable and enjoyable, the cream of the crop for me was ‘Life In Mesa’, ‘The Anniversary Weekend’, ‘Clinical Trail’, ‘A Clipjoint Romance’, ‘The Chaos We Know’, and the aforementioned ‘Three Cops’. A highly recommended collection sure to appease your inner thirst for ‘car wreck watching entertainment’ - 5 stars. ...more
This collection of short stories delves into the zombie sub genre from multiple points of view ranging from the zombies themselves, to those who huntThis collection of short stories delves into the zombie sub genre from multiple points of view ranging from the zombies themselves, to those who hunt them. While varied, the stories from the zombie POV are very similar insofar as the personality and thought processes mirror one another to the extent I though they were linked stories (they may well be though it didn’t come across that way). There are some standouts, with ‘Survivors’ by Joe McKinney reading more like an action romp than survival horror yet it manages to ooze heart amidst the gore infused backdrop. ‘The Meek’ by Scott Nicholson is probably the best of the collection where cannibalism runs rife in outback Australia and the order of the food chain is severely altered. ‘The Zombie Survival Scorecard’ by Jonathan Maberry goes to great length to diversify the dead by breaking down the types of zombies and their potential impact on the rate of human survival should such events occur – interesting and well written. ‘Murdermouth’ by Scott Nicholson is the best of the zombie POV’s and shows a more human aspect to the walking dead where the living could almost be considered the monsters. Overall this is a solid collection of zombie bits to wet the appetite for a full length.
THE WIND THROUGH THE FENCE by Jonathan Maberry is a zombie short story true to the genre with all the formulaic trappings yet it diversifies itself byTHE WIND THROUGH THE FENCE by Jonathan Maberry is a zombie short story true to the genre with all the formulaic trappings yet it diversifies itself by virtue of the clever writing and use of sounds over gore and violence.
A fence separates the living from the dead with those manning it responsible for helping mankind reclaim the land a meter at a time. However, with the dead pushing back and seeking entrance to the encampment, the struggle is not easily won.
There is a heightened sense of horror and anticipation for violence that keeps the reader engaged and looking over their shoulder, shuddering at silently caught words riding the wind, breathing the decayed drenched air and feeling the dread that those working on the fence feel. It's a really unique story that only gets better throughout.
The ending is a beauty too - one that's just for the tale that leaves a long lasting impression. THE WIND THROUGH THE FENCE IS a must for zombie fans and those who like to scare themselves silly.
A short story collection full of raw emotion and every day noir. While not as dark and twisted as other noir kindle collections, Nigel Bird's 'Dirty OA short story collection full of raw emotion and every day noir. While not as dark and twisted as other noir kindle collections, Nigel Bird's 'Dirty Old Town' succeeds in its subtleness and emotionally charged characters. Existing within the boundaries of suburbia, this collection comprises tales of domesticated anti bliss (Drinking Wine), revenge fulled Muslims seeking retribution for the mistreatment of their women by Nazi-like Caucasians (Sisterhood), and ancillary school staff struggles (Taking a Line for a Walk) amongst others. The standouts, for me, include the humorous and twisted 'Merry Christmas', and the short but oh so sweet 'Silver Street' which would serve well as a full length in which a young pimp is had by his fiance in a most unexpected way. 'Dirty Old Town' is a quick fire dose of unassuming noir comprising a little something for everyone. That being said, I found there were a few too many stories that failed to connect and interest me in the same manner as the standouts mentioned. Overall, serviceable, easy to read and well worth a look. 2.5 Stars. ...more
Speedloader showcases the latest neo-noir talent to emerge in recent times. Comprising of six short stories touching on topics from war memorials, derSpeedloader showcases the latest neo-noir talent to emerge in recent times. Comprising of six short stories touching on topics from war memorials, deranged police officers, alcoholic obsessive delinquents, sex trafficking, drug addled journalism, and anti drug task forces this anthology is loaded with enough speed to keep you awake for days. Nigel Birds 'You Dirty Rat' is a nostalgic piece retelling the horrific journey of a soldier and his fallen comrade. 'Plastic Soldiers' by W.D. Country is nothing short of brilliant - with such a small window to capture the readers imagination, Country crafts a tale that's both gripping, heart wrenching and motivating all in a single beat as we watch 6 young boys try to live through their captivity whilst enduring unspeakable acts horror and misconduct. The collection continues to get better with 'Cuffs' by Matthew C. Funk in which a deranged cop frames an innocent man for the brutal murder of a woman - you want shock and awe? 'Cuffs' has it in abundance - a very well executed tale of all that is noir. 'Mori Obscura' by Nik Korpon sees a 'clean' journo end up at one of his former drug house haunts and forced to decided between relapse and redemption. Much like 'Cuffs' and 'Plastic Soldiers' before it, 'Mori Obscura' is packed with tension and beautifully defined characters and plot. The second to last story in 'Herniated Roots' by Richard Thomas was the only bump on an otherwise smooth road - I struggled to connect with the lead character and wasn't as compelled to read it as I was with the other stories - perhaps a testament to the quality of the others. Last but not least is quite possibly the best short story I've ever read in Jonathan Woods' brilliant 'Crash and Burn' about an ill fated attempt to bring down a Mexican drug plantation in operation Fig Leaf. Reminiscent of the movie 'Smoking Aces' in so much as it comprises a cast of crazies doomed for death and hellbent on destruction. Inclusive of bar room brawls, submission, military misconduct, Mexican drug cartels and promiscuous women 'Crash and Burn' is hands down the best of the best, the most engrossing and unrelenting blood pumping short story I've ever read. I hope Woods explores some of the great characters he created for 'Crash and Burn' further in a full length novel. Minor qualms aside (Herniated Roots) this is a very solid anthology by the future of neo-noir - jump on and enjoy the ride. 4.5 stars....more