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Crimewave Eleven: Ghosts (Crimewave Short Story Collections) (e-book review).

January 23, 2019 | By | Reply More

Crimewave Eleven: Ghosts features fourteen stories from an assorted bunch of talented authors culled from the magazine ‘Crimewave’, which is put out by the same publisher that does the Science Fiction and fantasy magazine ‘Interzone’. That should tell you what sort of mood to expect. I picked out a few interesting pieces.

‘Plainview Part One: The Shoe Store’ by Dave Hoing is one of those small-town crime stories with the puzzled sheriff out of his depth. A young lady vanishes and turns up dead and sexually abused. Everyone suspects Mister Kohlsrud, an old local man who sells shoes and repair bicycles in his funny little shop. For some reason, this story is in two parts with ‘Plainview Part Two: ‘at the end of the book. Time passes between them so the split is to give a sense of duration. Overall, it’s a well-written study of small-town life brought to life by the characters, somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King’s work but mercifully shorter.

The girl missing found dead theme continues in ‘Wilkolak’ by Nina Allan. Kip, aged fifteen, photographs a skinny man in shabby clothes leaving a convenience store. He’s convinced that this man is the monster who murdered Rebecca Riding, aged eight, because he resembles the police photo-fit shown on the news. The story loped along with accurate observations of everyday life in modern England and I was enjoying it until it stopped about four pages short of the end. Grrrrr! No doubt there were good artistic reasons for this.

‘The Conspirators’ by Christopher Fowler has murder at the executive level among high flying business people who stay in the towering five-star hotels some folks yearn for and live a life of endless toil leavened by fine wine and expensive prostitutes. This was neatly done and had a satisfying ending.

‘Eleven Eleven’ by Cheryl Wood Ruggiero starts with twelve year-old Alsie buying a gun from the old pawnbroker who is too busy arguing with his dead wife to take much notice. Alsie does chores and odd jobs around the town but mostly feels invisible. The prose in this piece was poetic with certain phrases repeated. It evoked a mood, almost a dream-state, that gave the story more impact.

‘Where the Bodies Are’ by Ilsa J. Bick started well, got better and ended with a bang. It begins with Miriam in the town’s Jewish graveyard where she likes to keep an eye on new tenants, easy enough because her office overlooks it. She’s a psychiatrist who works with social services. Her morbid hobby is interrupted by an urgent summons to work. A young mother, according to all medical evidence, has had a baby but no one can find it. She goes to investigate and encounters an old boyfriend she walked out on. The story is interspersed with fictional odd quotes from ‘In Medea And Beyond: Psychoanalytic Perspectives On Mothers Who Kill’, eds Black M. & Shwermer U. (New York: Psychoanalytic Studies Press, 1995). There’s a point to these interruptions. When plot, characters and good writing come together like this, it’s a rare and wondrous thing. Beautiful.

The above is followed by the short sharp shock of ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ by Cody Goodfellow. Here we are inside a madman’s head as he goes about the violent business of keeping his little neighbourhood clean. He’s aided in this because he fitted most of his neighbours’ security systems, including hidden cameras. As with the ‘Dirty Harry’ and ‘Death Wish’ films, some of us can’t help but have a sneaking admiration for rough justice dealt out to no good varmints. I liked it.

‘Love’ by O’Neil de Noux seems to be about the effect of Hurricane Katrina on the psyche. Detective Jodie Kintyre of the New Orleans Police Department feels that time is now divided into BK and AK, Before and After Katrina. In the chaos following the event, she’s called out to a suicide, a man who jumped from the roof of a five-story hotel. This is odd really because the first part is her story and the second part is his. Like the next tale, ‘Living Arrangements’ by Steve Rasnic Tem, this was a slick professional job of writing but didn’t have much of a story to tell. Both are more about the mood, I think, than the plot which boils down to somebody kills somebody. They kind of work.

‘4am When The Walls Are Thinnest’ by Alison Littlewood is a bleak prison tale about Stumpy Ellis, a dangerous man who’s left thumb is missing. He has many different stories or variations on one about how he lost it and also claims he has a way to escape. The librarian can help. This took a surprising and interesting turn.

I don’t know why this collection has the sub-title ‘Ghosts’. There are few ghosts in it unless you count the spirits of all the people murdered. ‘Killers’ would have been more apt. It’s well-written and sufficiently Grim Dark to please fans of that genre. I’m not a real aficionado but some stories here are good in an evil way and, as tastes vary, other readers might like the ones I didn’t.

Eamonn Murphy

January 2019

(pub: TTA Press, 2010. 276 page 1015kb ebook. Price: £ 9.99 (UK). ASIN: B00B2WYSKS)

check out website: www.ttapress.com

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Category: Books, Cri-Fi, Fantasy

About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction, fantasy, horror and graphic novel writer/reviewer who lives in the south-west of England. His works are at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bigfootmurf and other ebook retailers

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