Mysteries come in many forms. Sometimes they are straight forward and easy to figure out as the author hits all the expected points one by one. Like dominoes, each plot or storyline point is hit in turn and they fall in a story by the numbers precision. Other times, not at all because the author weaves complexity and misdirection into the tale in such a way to keep the readers guessing all the way to the end.
Then there are those books that don’t fit easily into categories while clearly containing some crime and mystery elements. Novels and stories that might be classified more in the horror, supernatural, fantasy, etc genres and yet also contain a few elements of crime and mystery. Tales and books that don’t easily fit into the classifications created by libraries and book stores because the stories cross genres. Such is the case here with this intriguing and often disturbing anthology edited by Colin Harvey. If the stories in the “Killers” anthology share anything beyond the basic genre elements, they also frequently feature characters questioning their own sanity. Or not, as the book opens.
The very disturbing story titled “Doctor Nine” written by the multi Bram Stoker award winning author Jonathan Maberry begins the eleven story anthology. A very hard to describe story that features a child responding to a telepathic call to commit murder. This story powerfully sets the tone of what most will follow in the book.
“Dead Wood” by Sarah Singleton, also a winner of awards including the 2005 Children of the Night Award, comes next. Long ago someone once wrote of the woods being dark and deep. Chris has his own issues with sleep and these woods will slowly give up their secrets one by one.
Philip J. Lees heads to the virtual world for his story “Virtual Analysis.” Listed last month as an honorable mention finalist for the Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Anthology, his tale tells of a plan to study the thought processes of a serial killer while he kills in a virtual world. Of course, things will go disastrously wrong- at least for some of the study participants. But why?
Multi award winning Bruce Holland Rogers contributes next with “Pushover.” Beware those that appear meek and naïve as not only can appearances be deceiving, they also have jobs to do.
“Beautiful Summer” by Eugie Foster works on the angle that the fashion world is always looking for a fresh new face. Nominated for numerous awards, her story is haunting as well as highly entertaining.
Editor Colin Harvey steps into the author shoes with his own story titled “Just Another Day.” Set in Iceland, this story has a feel of being ripped from the head lines type of read to it. More straight forward than most in the collection, it features a police officer trying to figure out who killed the woman he loved set against the backdrop of genetics and cloning research.
“Losing Paradise” by G. C. Veazey follows next in a tale set in a hospital ward. Virginia may work among the patients and staff, but she isn’t really one of them.
Mental health also plays a role in “Visibility Less Than Zero” by Paul Meloy. Mr. Meloy is a mental health nurse in Bury St. Edmunds and one gets the feeling that he is writing well of what he knows. A tale that shifts in points of view and explores the idea of whether anyone really knows if he or she is sane.
Charlie Allery uses computers and hackers in her very good story “Hunter-Killer.” While Philip J. Lees went one way with some of the same elements, Charlie Alley went a different way in her own cyber murder tale. Each is equally good in its own right and either vision or both could easily come true.
“Index Of An Enigma” by Gary Fry tells the tale of a professor making a lecture appearance a symposium. The problem is that he is haunted by what is real and what might not be real.
Bram Stoker Award winning author Lee Thomas closes out the anthology with “The Good and Gone.” A hospital is again the setting in this tale of a patient dealing with pain in a rather unique way.
Published by Swimming Kangaroo Books of Arlington, Texas, this 233 page anthology features stories that share a very wide brush stroke link of murder and crime. After that, they have little in common as they showcase different genre elements in tales that feature widely divergent writing styles and tastes, and reader accessibility. Difficult to review or categorize, the “Killers” anthology features no easy tales that are quick reads and forgettable. Instead, each very good tale manages to hint at far more than it explains and makes you think long after you close the book.
We roll into May 2019 with another classic review from Barry. Make sure you check out the full list over at Todd Mason’s blog . DRO...
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In my wife's memory and honoring a promise I made to Sandi, the blog continues...at least for now. If you would like to make a donation of support, you can do so at the links below. Most of the donated funds go to the purchase of various short story anthologies and collections which eventually are read and reviewed here.