The Rapist cleverly blends Camus and Jim Thompson in an existential crime novel that is as dark and intoxicating as strong Irish coffee.
Les Edgerton smartly pulls us into the corkscrew mind of Truman Ferris Pinter, a twisted man with skewed perception of the world, as his life spirals toward oblivion, like dirty dishwater down a plughole.
It reminded me of Jim Thompson’s classic Savage Night in its delirium, which can’t be bad.
In A Scattering Of Ashes, Craig Douglas’ intense, debut short-story collection, we find sixteen hard-hitting tales of well-drawn, realistic and conflicted characters dealing with – or attempting to deal with – the stuff of life.
Life is loss, of course. Loss of hope. Innocence. Home. Family. Trust. Youth. Faith. And eventually life itself goes down the Swanee, which Douglas is clearly all too aware of.
Some of the collection’s most powerful stories:
Thunder On the Horizon– the tense tale of dystopian Britain on the verge of implosion.
Flesh and Blood – ‘Some of them would be dead by morning’ is the opening line of this hard-hitting story of soldiers in the heart of a war zone
Scargill’s Man– the aftermath of living though civil war in Thatcher’s Britain.
The Incident At Wetzendorf Woods – an old man reflects on a harrowing wartime incident that continues to haunt him.
Homecoming – a traumatised soldier’s desperate attempts return to the dull thud of normality.
Douglas’ unflinchingly honest portraits and snapshots may not be for the delicate but this is a cracking collection.
Jedidiah Ayres Fierce Bitches is a fantastic, tense and remarkably well-written short, sharp shock of small town noir.
Small towns are dark and sinister places, of course. Claustrophobic and repressive, they are much more suited to noir than the bright lights of the big city with its limitless possibilities. Noir is for losers, after all.
So, welcome to Politoburg, a sweltering hell-hole – somewhere south of hell- where Ramon runs a dive of a cantina and a host of prostitutes, all called Maria, who service the criminal gringos that are dumped there by a big city gangster.
With echoes of Jim Thompson’s brilliant The Getaway, Fierce Bitches is just as smothering with its multiple POVs and desperate characters trying to escape the past. Or just escape.
A whip-crack of a read.