Overall, 2011 was a good year for crime fiction. Sure, a few good pubs shut down (Dark Valentine comes to mind), but several good ones started up (Shotgun Honey, Pulp Modern, Dirty Noir, Near to the Knuckle). I discovered several new writers, and there's been a surge in the production of high-quality ebooks.
Enough of that, here are five stories from 2011 that stick out in my mind...
Dogs at the Door by Court Merrigan at Powder Burn Flash
This story just kicked my ass. A horrifying premise and a conclusion that equals it -- this one's got it all. Plenty of good details to sink your teeth into (er, pun unintended) too. Merrigan's new to the crime scene this year, and I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of him.
Purgatory Sex Twins by Callan at A Twist of Noir
Where the hell did this come from? This is one weird story about a incestuous relationship that explores the depths of human depravity. A surreal, well-written tale that you will not soon forgret. Kudos to Christopher Grant for publishing this, too.
Once a Loser by Holly West in Needle #4
A teenager guy's mobster uncle dies and asks him to perform a mysterious chore. The kid gets his hands on some money and thinks it's his ticket out of snoozeville. Of course, he's wrong. This story is rich in detail and well paced, and I really like the main character.
Mantra by Jodi MacArthur at All Due Respect
Ian Ayris and MacArthur have the market cornered on writing about the crazies. "Mantra" focuses on a very creepy saleswoman and this piece oozes with dread. I can't say enough about Jodi's work -- and this is one of her best. By the end, I was going "One, Two, Three, Nails and Teeth go beneath..."
Hurt by R Thomas Brown at Powder Burn Flash
A twisted tale of a soulless woman gaining a soul through less-than-conventional means. I loved the idea for this story and the execution is perfect. Brown's another writer I discovered this year and I'm always on the lookout for his work.