Switchblade magazine just seems to get better by the issue. All credit to the great work of its managing editor, Scotch Rutherford. You are doing a seriously good job, mate.
Whilst I’ve loved all the issues so far, # 1 through to # 4 and the Special Edition of Issue # 3, this is a publication which is well and truly finding its feet, and long, long may it keep standing. Scotch has kept it going for a whole year now, which in this industry is a considerable achievement. Here's looking forward to its second anniversary a year hence!
As always, in the interests of transparency, I do have a story in Issue # 4, joining an exceptional line up, I must say. It is an honour to stand in this line! So I might be a bit biased. Care factor? Zero, my friends. This magazine is great, great crime noir reading by a seriously varied array of talented writers.
The issue opens with a dark as hell poem from Lisa Douglass, and she then later has a short story which is disturbingly unsettling – as great noir should be. I have already noted down to seek out more of Douglass’s work. Her ability to understate takes disturbing to a higher, more invasive and intense level. She rocks, simple as that.
As always, the issue is a mixture of flash and short fiction. The flash contributions provide tight little morsels of twisted noir imagination, from Jeffrey B. Burton with “The Duck Blind” (a lovely little satire on publishing! With “cutting” involved!), Henry Brock with “Cigarettes” (who manages to wrap a truly tragic hard luck story into just 2 pages), Aaron Majewski with “The Dark Gleaming Blade” (almost dystopian, but lesbian pig farmers go down to the wire – yes, that does beg all sorts of questions – so get a copy of Switchblade and read it, my friends!), J.D.Graves with “Oh Sugar” (to be able to create such a fucked up little world of two people with such twists in just under 2 pages is an achievement – I especially loved the little quip, “Hindsight’s for assholes” – love your work, J.D., and will be looking for more!), and Peter DiChellis with “Eternal Love” (they say a sucker and his money always part ways...well so too do suckers and their loves. Great twist here.)
Then we get into the short stories. Pearce Hansen starts with “Seen One, Seen ‘Em All” – 1984 LA and its not-so-honest police force – yeah, corrupt cops are always great for noir, and this doesn't disappoint. Nick Manzolillo follows with “Extreme Hunting” – small-town losers with guns take on mob guys with guns, and it doesn’t turn out as you might expect, but then that’s what noir should be. Oh, and I loved the line “a southern accent that was as fake as a porn star’s tits”. Max Sheridan next with “The Herat Handshake” – seriously this was good! Violence (extreme), sex (all sorts of perverted, as I read it), some justice (of sorts) getting done, and everything unforeseen. Great! Will be urgently seeking out some of Sheridan’s work for more reading pleasure. Tais Teng with “Doch das Messer sieht man nicht” (relax, only the title’s in German) brings a whole new twisted (very, very twisted) take on juvenile crime, along with just a touch of the supernatural. Then along comes Diana Deverell with “Organ Trade Off” – seriously, and without venturing into spoiler territory, it had me clutching at my organs (no, no that one, get back out of the gutter!). This was macabre and twisted to hell, this story – loved it. And I’ve stopped clutching myself, finally! Next is Mike Derochick with “Sunrise at the Devils Pulpit” – his interlacing of thrill killing with rampant sex is chilling and noir at its sordid best. Then, as touched on already, Lisa Douglass with “Tumblr Girls” – a young girl who is screwed up well beyond her years, as the noir genre holds dear. This is seriously good writing by Douglass. And then, having already had corrupt cops (beautifully noir), we now have a corrupt judge courtesy of Keith Rawson in “So Much Love”. And you won’t see this level of corrupt depravity coming, let me tell you! Every aspect of this story worked for me – again, now seeking more by Rawson. And then the set was rounded out by yours truly with “White Powder, Black Leather, Grey Badges” – finishing the set off with more corrupt cops, because I know a thing or sixteen about them! Of course, being a story with my PI Harry Kenmare, there is some filthy sex in there, naturally. Or maybe unnaturally, but then you’ll need to read it to find out!
All in all, Switchblade is delivering top quality hard-boiled and noir short fiction by the truckload – it is always a fantastic read, and a terrific source of new authors to go and explore.
The editor of Econoclash Review, J.D.Graves (also a noir contributor par excellence to Switchblade - mentioned above), yesterday posted a great interview with Scotch Rutherford. This is absolutely worth a read, so here is the link:
I'm looking at a photo of Dirty Harry with his .44 Magnum (it sits on my desk - of course!). So I ask the question: "Do you like hard-boiled and noir? Well, do ya, punk?!!!"
Yes? Then you MUST start reading Switchblade.
No? Then you’d best head off back to cozy and procedural territory, with a cup of cocoa and some choccy biscuits. It’s safer there, sure (no disembowelling, no hard drugs, and no anal sex). But it is as boring as hell! Well, to us noir fans, anyway - no disrespect to those who do like their crime more genteel - each to their own. And in my case, that's the sex, drugs and violence.
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