Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction

crime fiction

Here’s’ about 20 crime stories written or published from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. The stories range from deep and dark to short and sweet, well, sweet for a crime story.  At one point I had to take a break from the book as one of the stories was really dark. Twisted dark. Hopeless.  When I picked it back up again, I read the first line of the next story. “At twenty-five minutes past midnight on 51st Street, the wind-chill factor was so sharp it could carve you a new asshole.” That story was dark to, but not hopeless, and by one of the best short story writers around, Harlan Ellison. There were several stories here that I enjoyed.  I have a soft spot for the hard boiled detective. There was I time when I read all the Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler I could get my hands on.  Heck, I wanted to be Hammett: writer, Pinkerton agent, bad-ass. So those stories were good.  I liked “Soft Monkey,” Ellison’s story with the great opening line.  I liked “This World, Then the Fireworks,” the story that influenced me to give the book a rest.  I told myself I’d read that story again just to be sure it was a creepy as it seemed (the depravity in that one was subtle). I even liked the over-the-top story of the men forced to fight to the death in a pit by crazy snake-handling Appalachian hillbillies. (Not so subtle that one.)

One thing I would do differently next time I come across a book of short stories in my to-read pile is not read it straight through. That doesn’t give me enough time to digest the gems or forget the dogs, and they get a bit mixed in my head. Instead I’ll make it my Monday night treat (or whatever day), something to be savored and enjoyed rather than hurried through like a novel.

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