I am absolutely loving Switchblade! Issue 3 is, once again, a beautifully hard and dark offering from the Switchblade house, and its editor, Scotch Rutherford.
Following my review of the Special Edition of Switchblade Issue 3, my copy of the normal Issue 3 arrived. There was a fair bit of commonality between the two versions of Issue 3, so I’ve included my earlier comments below for the pieces I read in the Special.
However, the pieces I hadn’t read before were a real treat. I was especially impressed with Robert Smith’s “Duke’s Birthday Bash” – the description of a certain class of Englishman was so on the money, and it was a great story. Going to go looking for more of Smith’s work, for sure. For the flash fiction extra, Joe Ricker’s “Baggage” managed a very dark look at some sad lives in just 3 pages – great work. And there was another poem, “Switchblade: A Screwdriver for the Skin”, this one by Zakariah Johnson. Whilst poetry and noir don’t seem like a match, this verse does it, and viscerally so – I even got a bit squeamish. But then I’m terrified of bloody needles, so a superb, poetic description of a blade doing its nasty work is guaranteed to set my skin on edge.
From my earlier review of the Special Edition...
I really, really enjoyed all the pieces in the collection. Personally, I prefer short stories over flash fiction, I think because there's more story development by definition, but everything here was very good indeed. The short story set opens with Preston Lang, already a firm favourite of mine, and he delighted darkly as always with "Press It Down". Nice twist as usual, loved it. "Crawdaddy" by J.D. Graves is noir at its best with great characters, bent cops, and twisted tragedy all round! And for more twisted mayhem with outstanding female sexual predators, Calvin Demmer's "The Lioness Must Hunt" is femmes fatales taken to a new level - I don't want to meet those ladies, ever! There were also great short stories from Charles Roland, Eric Beetner, Ehren Baker, and Morgan Boyd.
Then the flash fiction rounded it out, with pieces from J.L. Boekestein, Richard Risemberg and Michael Loniewski.
Yep, as we are coming to expect, if you love noir and hard-boiled, then Switchblade delivers, both barrels at once!
Great work again, Mr Rutherford! BRAVO!
And I've got some more authors to get hold of novels from!
To be completely transparent, I am a complete Francophile and love reading books about people living there, old houses in the country, and the French way of life. Sometimes those writing such books don't do the narrative justice. No such problem here from Les Américains (a.k.a. Eileen McKenna and Marty Neumeier).
Well, I loved it! The depiction of living in the Dordogne with all the trials and tribulations of an old farmhouse, along with the French way of doing things, is wonderful, and thanks to the lovely prose, Eileen and Marty's story is a pleasure to read. And I should mention their daughter, Sara, a chef, who features in the book and has included a dozen recipes from the region - looking forward to trying my hand at some of them, too.
From the book comes one of the most lovely of quotes I've ever read about the south of France:
"...the sun was low in the sky and the landscape had turned green and gold with long purple shadows. Vineyards and wheat farms alternated with clumps of forest, and wide expanses of sunflowers gave off an intense yellow light collected from the long summer day. We had never seen such beautiful farms. There were pale amber and tan colored houses with stone walls and clay tile roofs..." (p.25)
For Francophiles this is a must read! Thank you Eileen and Marty.
The Blind Rooster by Preston Lang.
This is truly outstanding noir!
I found Preston Lang's name in the Switchblade anthology I read recently (see my earlier review) and really liked his short story in there, so I went looking for one of his books. This is what I found initially, so I gave it a try. As a side note, this is one of the wonderful benefits of reading anthologies: you discover all these writers you might never otherwise find.
This was a really great noir tale, crisply written with sharp dialogue, heaps of twists and turns, and a very interesting cast of flawed characters. Those small town, small minded types who create such a rich tapestry in storytelling - they're all here! Just as they are in real life. As you know if you follow my blogs, I never, ever do spoilers. I simply say, my friends, read it and add to the repertoire of your criminal literary pleasure. If you love hard-boiled and noir, as I do, you will enjoy Lang's writing: It's a real treat in the gutter of life. Top effort, Mr Lang, I commend you.
And a postscript to the above - three of Mr Lang's books arrived here in Sydney today - two novels and a collection of short stories.
I am looking forward to the dark reads ahead!
I happened upon mention of the first issue of Switchblade, an anthology of noir in paperback form, while surfing crime writing stuff on the net. It sounded interesting, so I ordered a copy which arrived from the US in a little over a week.
Issue # 1, edited by Scotch Rutherford, contains 5 pieces of flash fiction, and then 8 short stories. There is some seriously great noir writing in this collection. I'm certainly going to be pursuing some of the authors further to see what else they have out there.
And I'll be thinking about a short story myself for submission - maybe my PI Harry Kenmare needs some stand alone tales!
If you love your noir, I highly recommend this new publication.
I really enjoyed this new Australian novel on a number of levels. It is a crime novel, at its core, but it's a lot more than that. The writing is lovely and engaging, and the pace keeps you reading - I did a couple of later than usual "lights out" as I wanted to keep going. The structure is a little unusual, I think, but it does work. I could probably have done with slightly fewer dream excerpts - I can see why they're there, but occasionally I found them a little distracting. This is certainly not a criticism - the pace was still full on and I was drawn in. A couple of nights with not enough sleep attest to this!
Chandler's characterisation is simply excellent - all of them believable, many one can relate to, and some first-grade human detritus as well. As an ex-detective, I always critically view authors' depictions of police officers, as they are often not very realistic, even from otherwise excellent writers. No such concern for me here - Chandler has done a solid job with her police characters. Drawing on my police background, Chandler's examination of relationship violence and psychological entrapment and capitulation are chillingly on the money, and she covers the "flesh industry" with seedy accuracy, too (I worked in Vice, amongst others).
No spoilers here, but you won't see the end coming!
A great read, beautiful writing, and I am going to be buying more of Chandler's work.
I really enjoyed A.C.Efverman's first novel, the first of the DS Callaghan series, and I hope there are many more to come.
There are plenty of twists in a great story - it certainly had me captivated to the end, wanting to know the outcome. No spoilers here, of course - people who do spoilers deserve painful punishment!!!
Suffice to say, Efverman knows how to spin a tale, and most importantly she creates a highly believable protagonist (and I used to be a DS). DS Callaghan has plenty of flaws, but he is very, very human. As you would have gleaned from some of my other blogs on the genre, I want to read realistic cops!
I highly recommend this novel for a read.
Footnote: I had the pleasure of meeting Anna (A.C.Efverman) in Sydney, as we're both crime writers based here. I do love discussing the crime writing craft with fellow authors - an opportunity which is rather rare - and I'm looking forward to talking with Anna further.
Even more importantly, I'm looking forward to her next book (the English language version, given my Swedish is zero).
A great read in the true tradition of tense and exciting thrillers.
I've had the pleasure of meeting L.A. Larkin on a couple of occasions, as we're both Sydney-based crime authors, although our sub-genres are different. If you're a reader of my blog you'll recall us being on a panel of 5 crime writers at the Australian Youth Hotel late last year.
I'd read Larkin's first thriller, The Genesis Flaw, and really enjoyed it. So I was looking forward to a new adventure, and she has certainly not disappointed with Devour. Like a truly great thriller, it was hard to turn the light out at night - I just wanted to know what happened next. Having to get up for work is such a drag, when you've got a book you are totally absorbed in.
I also love to see a realistically tough female protagonist - not all authors succeed when they try it. However, Larkin's Olivia Wolfe, an investigative journalist, hits the mark - and she hits a few other things, too! The story is well-researched and touches on some of the disturbing aspects of the modern world, making it even more readable. Well done, Louisa!
Highly recommended - 5 Stars *****
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