The Possession: supernatural stirrings

This is a 21st century ghost story, speculative fiction which muddies the waters in the semi-permeable membrane between worlds. Author Michael Rutger cleverly blends the deliciously creepy aspects of a golden-era gothic ghost story with the hard-nosed realities of modern lives lived online, the quiet personal tragedies of broken families, and the delicate balancing act…

Twisted: convoluted and clichéd

I know that an unreliable narrator, cliffhanger endings to every chapter and gobsmacking plot twists are all the rage right now. But Twisted proves that you can definitely have too much of a good thing. While attempting to be utterly unpredictable it becomes entirely implausible. You know from the start that you can’t trust the…

A Time For Violence: hard, fast and occasionally nasty

The short stories in this anthology provide a sometimes spiky slice of stylish writing from 28 assorted authors; some of them well-known names in the crime genre but many unfamiliar to me. They each take a different tack to interpret the central theme. Many inevitably showcase criminals doing the wrong thing for all kinds of…

A Book Of Bones: 21st century gothic

This gargantuan beast of a book concludes a story arc which began some six volumes ago in The Wolf In Winter. Far from being bare bones, A Book Of Bones is an extended, immersive and intense reading experience which delightfully disrupts commercial publishing conventions. For one thing, this is a 700 page epic – a…

Changeling: smart and spooky

I owe the author, Matt Wesolowski, an apology. He probably put months of effort into Six Stories: Changeling, and I devoured it in a single day. It disappeared as rapidly as a double-pepperoni stuffed-crust deep-pan pizza. I simply wolfed it down, propelled through the pages by its oh-so clever construction, Wesolowski’s storytelling technique, the convincing…

Northtown Eclipse: hardboiled and harrowing

Original and inventive, Northtown Eclipse takes the typical crime cliché of a seedy private eye and subverts the standard hardboiled detective story into something significantly more substantial. Author Robb White twists the tropes of the genre to tell a much more meaningful story, one which explores the human condition at its most personal – a…

The Cost of Living: what price new life?

This is a short excursion into a ‘what if?’ world, one where lifespans are massively extended and drastic action has been taken to curtail global population. In this near future, every new life must be balanced by a death. There’s a strict ‘one in, one out’ policy which is clinically enforced at all levels of…