I always know what I'm going to get--well-crafted crime fiction that will take less than ten minutes to read. Good when I need a dose of fiction in the middle of the day.
In the anthology (edited by Ron Earl Phillips, Sabrina Ogden, Kent Gowran, and Chad Rohrbacher), the site's stable of writers have a bit more time to stretch out, though the stories remain lean and in the publication's style.
"The Rhythm of Life" by Nigel Bird shows what a different mind he possesses. What could be a stock story about a killer luring in victims evolves into something more because of the narrator's unique perspective and powerful voice. Here's how it opens:
"Know why people gather at fountains? I'll tell you. It's the music. The notes. The way falling drops make a symphony. That's why."
Immediately we know we're in good hands. Here's an absurdly self-assured character who makes definitive statement after definitive statement.
I make it a point to read every Jen Conley story out there. Her writing is crisp, detailed, and without the irony that sometimes bogs down modern crime fiction. "Escape" is a fine example of her work. Leah's psychotic ex-boyfriend is after her, and she's fighting to survive. It's a condensed thriller with an affecting ending.
In a genre known for lowlife characters, Garnett Elliott writes some the grungiest characters around. "Chicken Soup for the Hole" (what a name!) concerns Kathi and Barbara, a couple of aging, crusty hippies desperately hocking their wears at the Soulful Spirit Holistic Wellness Expo. When Kathi meets up with an old flame who has a new book out, she thinks she'll finally be able to move out of Barbara's shitty trailer. But she should know better--writers don't make money on books.
Tons of other sharp stories in here from Paul D. Brazill, Steve Weddle, Matthew C. Funk, Naomi Johnson, and many more. Check it out US and UK.