I love having hard copy versions of my story so I was delighted to receive a contributor copy of CRIMSON STREETS: A Story a Week and Other Tales (cover art by John Waltrip, all rights remain with current holder). This was the first collection of stories from the Crimson Street neo-pulp web magazine, and it included my No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. So obviously it’s the most awesome anthology you will read this year.
I read it while I was down in Florida earlier this month, and I enjoyed it. But I do think it would have been better read at a slower pace, instead of sitting and paging through it in that period before my fellow Mensans arrived (I’ve found this true of a number of anthologies over the year) Read as a clump, there are a few too many Tough PIs Backstabbed By Beautiful but Dangerous Broads stories — individually fine, but not so much one after the other. And I feel a little guilty to realize that my PI story (they’re not all in that genre) had a tough white male protagonist like all the others. Next time I submit, I won’t default to that template.
As individual stories, though, there were a number I really liked:
•The Worst Gift by Jordan King-Lacroix is the best of the Backstabbed PI stories, if only for how convoluted the doublecrossing gets.
•Ghost Boss by Jamie Mason is a well-done urban fantasy. A federal investigator discovers the mess created by some crooked occultists is more tangled than expected.
•Seducing the Angel by Garry Kilworth has a Regency rake set out to prove he can seduce even an angel. Hilarity does not ensue.”
•She’s a Knockout by Bruce Harris is a boxing story — there were a lot of those in the old pulps — and does a good job with a familiar set up. There’s a fighter who refuses to take a dive and the manager who has to explain this to the mob, and it doesn’t look good for either of them. I’m curious to people who’ve never seen this kind of story (it was used in more than a few movies and TV shows too, back when boxing was several degrees cooler than I think it is now) make of it.
•A Story a Week by Trevor Boeltor was a lot of fun. A writer’s new agent demands he deliver a short story a week. It’s a struggle at first but then the ideas come to him. But it turns out there’s a drawback to his new profession …
•King’s Ransom by Don Katnik may have been my favorite in the collection (well, not counting my own work). A group of hoods put the snatch on their small town’s famous writer. But he doesn’t have any money, and he’s not worth enough to his publisher or his agent … so he works out a plan with them to turn himself into a cash cow.
Like I said, this is probably best read slowly. But it is worth reading. So if you want to …