This is a short, snappy and sometimes savage collection of neo-noir, although not all of the seven stories truly fall into that category. Some lean more towards the mysterious than the genre’s typically bleak and brutal tales of despair and moral destruction. For instance, ‘Once Upon A Time In The Woods’ mixes urban crime with mystical whimsy in a delightful which caught me completely off guard.
Others, like ‘Give A Good Day’ are not so much complete stories, more like slices of misery taken from the carcass of the human condition and stained on a slide for us to inspect under a microscope. if that sounds just a touch too miserable for you then be assured that not all of these finely-honed episodes conform to that oldest noir convention – the unhappy ending. ‘Last Exit’ at least offers a glimmer of redemption, of a future after the awfulness has ended. ‘Lazarus, Come Forth’ holds true to many of the genre’s established rituals, not least the fatal female, manipulative, beautiful, and with an agenda all of her own.
Maybe my favourite is ‘Omega Man’; a series of searing insights into the nature of conquest (once you’ve climbed the highest mountain, then the only way is down…), romantic rejection, obsession and possession which ends with a bitter twist.
Of the seven stories in this short collection, there was only one which I didn’t enjoy; not a bad batting average. It’s also helped to introduce me to a couple of authors whose full-length novels have now been added to the (scarily sized) TBR stack. However, this anthology didn’t last very long. It’s neatly put together and the different voices are well suited so that they overlap without repeating, but even so it was gone in under two hours. I’d’ve appreciated a bit more substance once we got into the flow of things. Still, it’s stunning value for less than a quid. You rarely get such high quality entertainment at that kind of price.
Oh, and the ‘aged’ cover art is a delight.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Maybe I Should Just Shoot You In The Face is available as an ebook at Amazon