Rapid Reviews: the weird and the wonderful

This week’s selection of criminal encounters goes beyond the usual police procedurals to uncover murder in the desert and monsters on the movie lot; eugenics in tomorrow’s world and courtroom dramas from yesteryear, and an assassin who kills for kindness… THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Michael ConnellyIt may be a touch long in the tooth –…

Masters of Murder: short, sharp stabs

This is a clever confection of 15 tales of the unexpected, in which someone deserving dies an appropriate death – and the killer gets away scot-free thanks to meticulous planning and fancy footwork. For such a dark subject, these stories offer an implausible helping of fun as you attempt to second-guess the plot twists: who…

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap & Leonard lite

This collection compiles five short stories from the formative years of Joe R Lansdale’s unconventional scoundrels, right at the time when they’re forming the solid bond that stands them in good stead in later life. Like several other memorable pairings in crime fiction – Angel and Louis, Spenser and Hawk, Stoner and Stretch – Hap…

The Minotaur’s Son: modern mythology

A delightful collection of whimsical, sometimes wistful short stories. Written with a light touch and a wry smile, this collection is the perfect antidote to all the aggravation and aggression of modern life. The settings switch from present day to historical high points and futuristic satire, while the stories inhabit territory in between skulduggery and…

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 Stoner Stories: just published!

  This is where it all starts for ex-soldier JJ Stoner; a series of blood-soaked situations where his pragmatic approach to problem-solving kick off a covert career serving the Hard Man. If you’ve not yet read Frank Westworth’s ‘rich and ambitious’ full-length novels, the Killing Sisters series, then this is a great place to start.…

Dead Guns #1: firing on all cylinders

This anthology of American crime crams in everything you’d expect from hardboiled pulp fiction. The action spans sudden death in a double-wide, to unexpected aid from an undercover cop. It encompasses righteous vengeance, unprovoked violence and what happens to careless crims with loose lips. Yet it’s far from hopeless: among the mobsters, lowlives, hard luck…