Crimewave 11: Ghosts
Plainview Part One: The Shoe Store by Dave Hoing
Wilkolak by Nina Allan
The Conspirators by Christopher Fowler
Who's Gonna Miss You When You're Gone by Mikal Trimm
Holderhaven by Richard Butner
Eleven Eleven by Cheryl Wood Ruggiero
Where the Bodies Are by Ilsa J. Bick
Neighborhood Watch by Cody Goodfellow
K Love by O'Neil De Noux
Living Arrangements by Steve Rasnic Tem
4 A.M., When the Walls are Thinnest by Alison Littlewood
The Hostess by Joel Lane
We are Two Lions by Luke Sholer
Plainview Part Two: The Blood Cools by Dave Hoing
Wraparound cover art by Ben Baldwin
American Royal paperback, 240 pages
"Believe me, this is a great anthology featuring a lot of excellent stories.
Dave Hoing sets the standard with "The Shoe Store/The Blood Cools" an outstanding piece about serial murders in a small town, which bookends splendidly the volume as a great example of fascinating storytelling. The eclectic Christopher Fowler contributes "The Conspirators", a perfect piece of cold, ruthless fiction depicting the ferocity of the unforgiving world of business, where crime is simply part of the game.
Nina Allan's "Wilkolak" is another extraordinary tale providing the insightful description of the dangerous relationship between an amateur photographer and the man he thinks is a murderer. In the captivating and gripping "Holderhaven" Richard Butner probes a wealthy family's old secrets still hidden in a mansion now turned into a museum. "Eleven Eleven" by Cheryl Wood Ruggiero, featuring an amazing twelve-year-old girl, is a delicate, bitter story of innocence and murder, love and vengeance, faith and despair. In "Living Arrangement" Steve Rasnic Tem draws the masterfully cruel portrait of a hellish family life where a grandfather has to take care of a problem in a tragic but effective manner, while in "4am, When the Walls Are Thinnest" Alison Littlewood gives a supernatural twist in the tail of a chilly tableau of prison life.
Among so many incredibly good stories the one ranking first, in my opinion, is "Where the Bodies Are" by Ilsa J. Bick, graced by a superb narrative style and a great characterization. A psychiatrist and her former lover, a detective, meet again after many years to deal with a case of possible infanticide and with long buried secrets from their own past.
I strongly recommend this book not only to crime fans, but to any fiction lover."
— Mario Guslandi
"A stunning book. One I am pleased I bravely reviewed without really knowing what to expect" Des Lewis
"Gorgeous to look at, solid to hold, cover-to-cover great fiction at a bargain price, and I had to search, and search hard, to even find the name of the editor, anthologist, layout designer and typesetter. Buried in teeny-tiny type on the bottom of the contents page, which is right under the cover — not a page is wasted — is the name of the man of the hour, Andy Cox. You'll recall that he has more than a little to do with both Interzone and Black Static. In these days where shameless self-promotion is a catchphrase, this sort of under-the-hood approach is greatly welcomed. Cox lets his readers focus on the good stuff — great crime fiction stories in an attractive easy-to-read package.
I'll set aside my packaging considerations for a moment to briefly discuss what is really important here, which is simply that Cox consistently puts together a top-notch collection of crime fiction that is dark, slightly gnarly (but never ostentatiously gross), and tinged with the surreal. It's precisely the sort of crime fiction that readers of Interzone, Black Static, and literary fiction will be most likely to enjoy.
This edition is bookended by David Hoing's "Plainview," a textured, intense story of shoes, girls and murder. Honig captures the tenor of an American suburb perfectly, and then populates it with just the sort of human you'd hope never to meet. The work is at once utterly realistic but subtle and evocative. Cody Goodfellow also inhabits the suburbs, at a creepy level dialed to eleven in "Neighborhood Watch." Chrisotpher Fowler, on the other hand, lives the high life in "The Conspirators," demonstrating once again that he is one of our most talented and versatile writers.
Richard Butner uses a staccato setup to grab you and drag you into "Holderhaven," a little miracle of juxtaposition and storytelling smarts. It's not a feel-good story. Steve Rasnic Tem, no stranger to strangeness, examines a "Living Arrangement" with a very sinister purpose. There's a strong Flannery O'Connor vibe to this story, with its sparse prose and the unpleasant old man Monte at its heart. It's enough to make you think a few times about kids; either having one or being one. No matter what the perspective, the view is bad.
As you read the stories in Ghosts, and they are all pretty damn great, a certain vibe starts to form, a long dark echo in the reptile part of your reading brain. It's Andy Cox at work, readers, pulling together a collection of crime fiction like no other. He knows how to solicit the stories, and interestingly, a number of them are from authors who otherwise specialize in science fiction, dark fantasy and horror. You'll recognize lots of the name of Interzone and Black Static; Nina Allan, Mikal Trimm, Cheryl Wood Ruggerio, Isla J. Bick, O'Neil De Noux, Alison Littlewood, the ever intense Joel Lane and Luke Sholer, round out the list. While the collection is named "Ghosts," the kind of ghosts we meet here are unfortunate memories, unpleasant pasts, and unchecked bad intentions that manifest in this world, in our world as damage, as damnation. Cox knows how to put this sort of thing together in a manner that is ultimately powerful and affecting, not simply depressing.
Credit Cox as well with putting this in a very nice package. The cover art by Ben Baldwin is excellent. The layout and design are better than many New York trade paperbacks. Crimewave Eleven: Ghosts had better show up in some award lists. But more importantly, here is something for readers of any genre, or any stripe, to celebrate."
"As to the ghosts, some of the ghosts are those of regret and memory while some may actually be ghosts seeking revenge, redemption, retribution, or absolution. It's up to the reader to decide just how each story relates to the issue's theme. Every one is a gem of tight writing that will pull you into a world you'll pray you'll never enter in any other way but via fiction" Gayle Surrette, Gumshoe