Simon Wood is more of a roller coaster operator than a writer--fast-paced, twisty-turny tales populate his thrilling new collection, Asking for Trouble. It's cool to see his kind of style in short form, proving that you don't need a full-length novel to create engaging suspense.
Wood specializes in average-guy-gets-into a-bunch-of-shit stories. I found it fun trying to guess how the main character is going to get it--or weather they'll escape in the end. And though the stories are almost universally dark, Wood sprinkles in a bit of hope here and there.
My favorite story in here (which is also my favorite story in the Akashic anthology, Seattle Noir) is The Taskmasters. It starts with Matt getting into a bar brawl, something he apparently does with some regularity. When a stranger pulls Matt aside and tells him about an organization that could help him get his life together, Matt's quite skeptical. I don't want to give too much away here, but Matt soon discovers that the stranger's intentions aren't exactly pure. What I really liked about this one is how Wood turns the whole motivational, self-help industry on its head.
For only 99 cents at Amazon you get 10 excellent stories plus excerpts from two of Wood's novels.