01/11/2008. Contributed by RJ Barker
pub: TTA Press. UK publisher/editor address: Andy Cox, TTA Press, 5 Martins Lane, Witcham, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB6 2LB. 157 page enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-9556383-2-5.
check out website: www.ttapress.com
'Crimewave' is a periodical collection of crime stories published by the same people who put out 'Interzone' and is now in its tenth issue.
I'm an eclectic reader, SF, fantasy, literature, historical fiction, whatever, I'll read it. I love crime fiction, from Sherlock Holmes to the modern American Masters such as James Lee Burke and Robert Crais. I have an insatiable appetite for mayhem so I was genuinely excited about 'Crimewave' and its selection of stories. I love shorts that have strong voices and 'Crimewave' is packed with them.
It opens with '2PM: The Real Estate Agent Arrives' by Steve Rasnic Tem. Five lines, absolute, stark, real horror. This is followed by 'Even The Pawn' by Joel Lane. There's a convention in short story writing that you should always name the narrator, this story doesn't bother. Personally, I think it works well, especially in first person and the beginning of this story with its dry-voiced trip into the dark side is wonderful. Unfortunately, it takes a left turn into the supernatural that I didn't find nearly as interesting as the world of vice the story threatened to explore and made the end seem rather hurried. It's a good story but the end feels rather out of place in this collection.
'Last Man' by Mick Scully flips back and forth between Vietnam in the sixties and now. The first person prose is visceral and cocky, the third person more contemplative which works well. Although the text is often violent, the story itself is quiet and resonates with echoes of today's world politics. 'Unlucky' by Lisa Morton is an enjoyable, quick and dirty read. 'Appearances' by Murray Shelmerdine has a lovely, chatty tone full of dark, thoughtful inflections and black humour. The characters feel very real in their actions and dialogue, I think the author is male but this doesn't pollute the female lead character as sometimes happens. There's one silly error that irritated the pedant me, a bit about the Victorians being buried with telephones in their coffins, which is new to me and feels anachronistic (though historically possible and I know bells in coffins were popular). It's a small niggle and I think Murray Shelmerdine maybe a name to look out for. Superb!
'101 Ways To Leave Paris' by Simon Avery starts in the present tense, which is always an acquired taste. It works within the setting of the story but once you find out what the main character has been involved with it's difficult to feel any sympathy for him. It's a well-written story and incredibly bleak but ultimately I found it uninvolving.
Nicholas Stephen Proctor's 'People In Hell Want Ice And Water,' is not for nervous flyers. The very descriptive nature of this story sits oddly among the starker offerings and, although I presume it's meant to give colour to the moment, I'm not sure it succeeds. It's a transitory story that feels slightly unfinished, much like the atmosphere in airports, which is clever. 'Black Lagoon' by Alex Irvine is a wonderful story full of odd little references and quirks that give it a very real aire. It's another story that takes a supernatural turn but this time it feels utterly right.
'Your Place Is In The Shadows,' by Charlie Williams fizzes with the rustle of knock off Burberry caps and a life lived stealing and waiting for the next giro. It felt like it had some element missing although the story was still highly enjoyable. 'Saudade' by Darren Speegle was too introverted for me but is the sort of thing some people will love. 'The Montgolfier Assignment' by Kay Sexton is a short and highly amusing tale of what happens when people who shouldn't get involved in crime, do.
Lastly is 'The Opening' by Daniel Kaysen and it's very difficult to write about it without spoiling the story as it is wonderful.
I recommend this without hesitation, there was nothing in it I wouldn't happily read again and if you enjoy crime you'll get a real kick from Crimewave.
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