Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top Five of 2010: John Kenyon

John Kenyon is a writing group buddy of mine and a fellow Iowan. He also runs a blog at Things I’d Rather Be Doing, where he recently had an interesting interview with Hard Case Crime’s Charles Ardai.

Also interesting to note that I haven’t had any repeats yet (other than Nigel Bird’s Beat on the Brat), which just goes to show how much fantastic stuff is out there. And here's John's contribution... 

King by Dave Zeltzerman
Beat to a Pulp
The kids taunt elderly Mary Crowley, the crazy-seeming lady who feeds the pigeons in the park. If only they knew what really went on. This veers closer to horror than crime, but it's a haunting story that showed me early in the year how powerful online short fiction can be.

Passed by Kieran Shea
Plots with Guns
A father on death row has one last request of the son he beat and left behind. This is powerful, gritty stuff from someone who has become one of my favorite crime fiction writers. There isn't a lot of direct action, but the story never flags as a result. He keeps you invested the whole way.

Seven Days of Rain by Chris F. Holm
From 8 Pounds
When I picked up Holm's collection, I thought, "I have a handful of published stories. Maybe I should put out a collection." Then I read stories like "Seven Days of Rain" and decided to keep those foolish notions to myself. Holm can really write, and here he lets the story unfold in tantalizing fashion, ending with a real wallop.

Beat on the Brat by Nigel Bird
Needle No. 2
I've just started reading Bird's stuff in the past few months, and every time his stories pack a real emotional punch. This does that and manages to juggle three narrators successfully in just a few pages, and offers a bit of alternate Ramones history for those of us paying attention.

Someday We'll All Be Free by Ray Banks
Crime Factory No. 2
Banks is one of my favorite crime novelists -- his Cal Innes series is top-notch -- and it's always interesting to see him do something with shorter work. Here, he deftly weaves in a lot of Motown details in a way that drive a story of somewhat misdirected revenge and redemption.

John Kenyon is a newspaper editor in Iowa. He has had stories published in Beat to a Pulp, Crime Factory, ThugLit, Muzzle Flash, Powder Burn Flash and Demolition. His story "Cut" appeared in the ThugLit anthology Blood, Guts and Whiskey, and "A Wild and Crazy Night" was a Spinetingler award nominee.


  1. Chris / John- Another awesome bunch of reads by much talented writers. This has really made it easy to find great stories

  2. As keeps getting repeated 'round here, another terrific list. I can't say enough about 8 pounds and the rest of this bunch measures right up. This "best of" list of yours is turning into a classic "gotta read" event, Chris. Kudos.

  3. Thanks guys! I somehow missed that Kieran Shea joint the first time around--I'll have to check that out cause he always brings it.

  4. John should have placed himself in the top five: terrific writer.

  5. Great selection. * Pounds is fantastic.

  6. This has been a great exercise, Chris. I got to revisit some great work, and get to learn about a lot of other great stories I may have missed. Thanks for letting me take part.

    And thanks, David. You're too kind.

  7. Thanks so much for the mention, John. You and Chris just made my day. (Some other folks' days, too, I suspect.)

  8. Great stuff listed here. Cool picks.

  9. It's a list where I know all the writers but not all the stories, so I'm going back to read them all anyway. John, thanks for 'Beat On The Brat' and for seeing the Ramones in there. I'm really honoured to be in a list with the others here, and after a tough day it's the lift I need to get back to the story writing over the weekend. Means a lot. Thanks.