Nigel Bird is one of my good friends and one of the best writers in crime fiction today. I had the pleasure of working with him editing Pulp Ink. He blogs at Sea Minor and he's here today with his top five picks.
First off, I’m not going to mention any stories from Pulp Ink; that would seem too biased.
Secondly, I’ve been enjoying stories this year in ways that have surprised me – I’ve read the short form with more flexibility and have really enjoyed spreading my wings.
My five to note all stand out for me and have done since the beginning of the year.
‘Less Than Living’ was posted at Spinetingler earlier this year. I loved it then and still do. Jason Duke does something special and I can even quote myself from the comments box – ‘The voice is extra-ordinary, carries loneliness and the edge of reason with it. The repetitions are stunning and the weaving in of the song lines really works.’
Next is my favourite of all, no offence to anyone. I can’t remember reading a story of such extraordinary power. It’s Plastic Soldiers from Snubnose’s debut collection Speedloader and it’s by WD County. I reckon I’ll be one of the many choosing this one and I’m not going to say anything other than to tell you to read it.
Heath Lowrance put out a rich collection called ‘Dig Ten Graves’. For me, the opening story is immense. It tells of a man affected by the news of the death of a former girlfriend of his and the way his mind struggles to open the can of worms that’s been in his head since. Thing is, when he opens it, he finds snakes and they’re poisonous, every last one of them. I love it as it speaks of life’s impact on an individual, of the way chance plays its part and the way our middle-aged selves have to come to terms with the rough and the smooth.
Another collection I loved was ‘The Adventures Of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles’ by Edward A Grainger. Though I’m loathe to single one out, I’m going for ‘Melaine’ where the lines of good and bad are rubbed out forever and revenge is king.
Finally, and most recently, Thomas Pluck’s ‘Candle’ over at the excellent ‘Grift’. It’s a wonderful tale as TP keeps his foot off the gas. The events are almost incidental, but the story packed in there is huge. I really loved it.
Finally, as an aside, a word for Shotgun Honey. Though I didn’t pick a story from their stable, I’d put them forward as my favourite fiction place just now. It would be top-dollar if it weren’t free. Keep up the good work, Hon.