Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top Five of 2010: AJ Hayes

I've asked a bunch of crime writers I admire to weigh in with five best stories they've read in 2010. The five they'd recommend without hesitation.

And to kick off the series is the inimitable AJ Hayes! He's a written a slew of excellent stories at A Twist of Noir that you should definitely check out in addition to his selections here.

Take it away, AJ...

Maxy and Micky Tales by Richard Godwin
Besides being one of the best interviewers who ever walked the planet (his Chin Wag At The Slaughter House is a superb series), Richard is one helluva author. If you don't believe me take a look at New Bag over at A Twist Of Noir. It's a genre blending wonder and the last part will fry your eyeballs. Read all of the segments or you're cheating yourself bigtime.
Part1: The Skin Room
Part 2: Scar Tissue
Part 3: The Country Club Killings
Part 4: New Bag

Small Print by Ian Ayris
Ian is one of the best street smart, slangy, put you in the scene and beat you over the head with it until blood comes out your ears, narrators in the business. This tale is a sermon to fulfilling obligations completely -- even if the contract is written in blood. Ian's so very good that, after a very short while, you think you know how to speak Cockney -- Cockney slang at least.

Stupid is as Stupid Doesn't by Jimmy Callaway
The Callaway Irish Jigs his way in, kilt flapping in the breeze, administering headlocks to all them that needs 'em with his usual masterful dialog, unexpected characters and brick hard irony that does your ass up proper. Plus a big dose of didn't expect that now did you thrown in fer nuttin'.

Whale Food by Josh Converse
Okay, Converse it's about time you came out of the shadows and admitted you're a number one writer of a pitch-black poetry dolled up as true forties noir. You been hiding for way too long in the back booths of The Ken Club. You got the spotlight now -- whether you want it or not. People are gonna know. Stand up and take it like a man, asshole.

Taking A Line for A Walk by Nigel Bird
Nigel Bird takes you a on a gentle walk down a small,quiet path that, as it goes on, starts making you want to dig in your heels and scramble backward crying, "No, no, no. Please. I don't want to know this. But with gentle, unassuming, glacial force he makes you look into the eyes of true horror -- and lets you see it looking straight back at you. I defy you to speak immediately after reading the last line of this story. I couldn't say a word for quite a while.

AJ Hayes lives in a small town near San Diego. Nothing much happens there so he makes up stuff that ought to. He is constantly in awe of the talented people who call him friend and thinks life, right now, is pretty damn good . . . well except for that pesky outstanding warrant.


  1. I agree with almost everything here.

  2. Nigel knocked it out of the park for BTAP. I'm glad to see it included here.

    Ian Ayris is coming up in a few days with another gem called "By the Dim and Flaring Lamps."

    Chris, I like what you're doing here. Maybe next year The Top Twenty?

  3. First off thanks Chris for what is a great idea.
    Secondly, AJ, I'm feeling proud to be up there in a list put together by such a talented writer and great human being. Thirdly, to David, thanks for hosting my story in the first place and for doing all that work on behalf of us all.
    Now I'm going to read the stories here that I don't know and then probably kick myself for not reading them earlier.
    Nice to see you here Jimmy - thanks for the interview.
    Have to agree with all the names on your list AJ and I think your bio is a cracker.

  4. and next year, to get ready for this series, i'm going to make a note of every short that I read so that i can join in again.

  5. I just realized my Top Twenty comment made no sense. I was reading to fast when I posted. What you have going here with different writers leaving their top five is a much better idea. I will shut up now.

  6. Late to the party due to a power cut I just want to say thank you to Bill for the inclusion and kind words, and to Chris for the great idea and also to Christopher for publishing the originals. It's a great list.

  7. Excellent picks to be sure, nice and tight each!

  8. AJ--thanks for this killer list.

    Missed that Converse story the first time around--really enjoyed it.

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