With the subtitle of “11 Short Stories of Killers, Fixers, and P.I.’s” you know exactly what you are getting in this primarily hard-boiled read from Sniplits. Unlike many anthologies that often waste several pages with a well-meaning introduction of some type, this one gets straight into the action.
“Vista with Player” by R. A. Allen opens the book. Our narrator, an unhappy car salesman, is not having a good day for a variety of reasons. Not just because he can’t hit his golf shots on the course in Memphis, Tennessee. Or that it is the holiday and his kids are in Phoenix with his second ex-wife. Until today, he just thought he had problems. Now, he really does and not just because he never has had any luck in this noir style story.
Mike Wiecek follows with “Chain of Command” in a tale about “day labor for the corporate elite.” Since the corporate elite are involved, their requirements for day labor are far different than the normal media version of day labor. For one thing, limos are usually involved. For another, the problem usually involves a lot of money and stock. Both are at play in this one where the financial books are a problem that has to be dealt with quietly and permanently.
Sal knows something is up when her half-brother, Terry calls and then shows up in “Call Out” by Adrian Magson. Maybe it is because…
“Terry was what some referred to as a career suspect. He acted bent, looked bent and how he’d escaped doing time was beyond me.”
Whatever the deal he is cooking up this time it is most likely going to be trouble. The only real question is what will it cost her?
“Henderson’s Place; The Girl With The Summer Eyes” by Mort Castle follows next. Dreams are one thing and they may be beautiful. Reality is for different and not so pretty. In fact, it is boring. Henderson isn’t the only one to feel that way in this very disturbing and very strange story.
Ralph knew he made a mistake when he popped off with a crack about needing more workouts. A month later Micki presented him with a gift certificate to a nearby fitness center as “Fit to Die” by Thomas Millstead opens. It is also something he can’t decline since she is his fiancée. At least the upside in showing up at the fitness center is that it will give this private investigator his first homicide case.
McCool is your classic hung over detective in “The Art of War” by Miles Archer. Thank god for coffee, aspirin and secretary like Barbara. Steven Mori is the client this brutal hung-over morning. He owns a waste hauling business on the south side of San Francisco. Organized crime in the form of another waste hauling company wants his company and Mori needs help. To make their point, the family dog is dead. Next it will be his 7 year old son if Mori does not give up his company. He needs a smart solution to his problem that does not involve the feds or local law.
The trip to see the old woman had been bad enough for Terry. It clearly had been a waste of time and a reminder how the rich get richer while the rest of us get screwed. That was the worst of it until the other driver headed eastbound on Ninety-Four between Indiana and Michigan decided it was time to mess with her in “Detour” by Libby Fischer Hellmann. It might not be some random driver. It might be connected to her last job. Could be something else. Whatever reason he has for messing with her, he presents a problem.
Simon Wood comes next with his tale titled “Father Figure.” Childs is on the job. It is a personal one and he isn’t about to tell anyone about it. It might be his biggest score yet.
Hawaii based private investigator Val Lyons is trying to protect Paula Evangelista in “Kill Leader” by Mark Troy. Her client is a power house on the volleyball court. So much so, somebody is making threats. Paula Evangelista is a difficult client, to say the least, and Val is having a very hard time identifying the person or persons behind the threats in this complicated tale. Not only is her client driven to succeed so too is the person trying to get her.
Sydney isn’t getting good customer service at the diner in “Sioux City Express” by Laird Long. This despite the fact he is a frequent customer. He is about to get a job thirty years in the making and one this private investigator can’t turn down.
“And Miles to Go” by J. R. Chabot fittingly brings this well done anthology to a close. A lonely out of the way diner, a weary traveler, and an inconvenience that must be dealt with. Even if it is 1:30 in the morning and all he wanted was a cup of coffee.
Available as single short stories as well, this anthology features eleven good stories. The strong stories in this first anthology are complex tales featuring well developed characters, interesting situations, and the settings as varied as are the writer styles show cased here. The result is an entertaining read.
Killer Fiction: 11 Short Stories of Killers, Fixers, and P.I.’s
Material supplied by the publisher in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2011