Her Name Is Mercie: grit, bitterness and redemption

Meet Mercie: an ordinary young woman in midtown America. Her existence is ripped apart, collateral damage when her parents are murdered, their home repossessed, and she’s left with nothing. Her bewildered rage soon lands her in the worst kind of trouble, exposed to the harsh realities of serving hard time in the 21st century American…

Portrait of an Assassin: killer fiction

The title tells you exactly what to expect of this rapid-fire, rattling read: the back story to a calculating contract killer. It’s cleverly presented in a series of episodes which almost form standalone short stories, as Jack the discharged Royal Marine becomes Jack the rudderless, Jack the flat broke, then Jack the opportunist… and gradually…

Threads In Dew: short, sharp and savage

This collection of half a dozen short stories is like a needle: sharply honed, painfully to the point. None of them make for comfortable reading: in a few brief pages they deliver a disconcerting and discordant viewpoint from a series of snapshot situations. This is genuine contemporary noir which breaks boundaries and refuses to be…

Last Train To Helsingør: spooky Scandi stories

Deliciously delicate, these Danish short stories meander along the sinister side of twilight, weaving dark descriptions of despair, duplicity and justly-deserved retribution. The 19 haunting and subtle stories in this anthology come from author Heidi Amsinck who, although born in Copenhagen, writes fluidly and artfully in English. This makes her writing refreshingly accessible for an international…

The Stoner Stories: gritty British noir

There’s a new JJ Stoner short story out this week. If you haven’t yet met this complicated contract killer then there’s just time to enjoy the first five quick thrillers in this anthology. Guest reviewer MD Ironz sidesteps any spoilers to describe his first encounter with ‘a man without apparent qualms of conscience’… I have…

The Sherlock Effect: semi-contemporary sleuthing

Originally published some 20 years ago, this collection features five intertwined investigations, written in the spirit of the greatest detective of all time. The modern-day protagonist originally hated his middle name – ‘Sherlock’ of course – with which his Holmes-obsessed father had burdened him. But ‘Sherl’ gradually develops a similar fixation with scientific deduction, and…

Mystery Tour: sun, sea, and a stab in the back

There should be something to please everyone in this collection of 28, contemporary short stories, written by members of the Crime Writers’ Association. It’s billed as an international anthology, although the majority of writers are British or American. There’s just one Scandi story, one from Mumbai, and one written by a South African team, but…