Friday, January 7, 2011

Crime, Noir, and Murder: Brown Paper Publishing Anthology Review

Pablo D'Stair, editor over at Brown Paper Publishing, sent me a free copy of  "You're dead, and I killed you: a conversational anthology of noir, crime, and murder" a few weeks ago. In return, I agreed to read and provide a review. It was a win/win, as I have been on a vision quest to school myself on these subjects. I'll  be sending this to Pablo, who I must say, is a true gentleman, but figured I would share it here as well.  You can download a free PDF of this book from the BPP site, if want, or buy the paperback for $5.00

The book is 151 pages, with the first 25 being a round table discussion of murder, human nature, and noir by Pablo D'Stair, Robert Johnson, and Sonia Tabriz. I'm the impatient type and knowing that the remainder of the book was the stories, the intellectual vibe of the discussion lost my interest fairly quickly. I decided to revisit it later and get to down to business. There are eight stories and each one is introduced by one of the authors, who did not write the story being presented. It is a nice touch, the commentary is interesting, and well done. Get to it, you say? Then, here we go.

Jason Michel starts things off with two stories that immediately got me right into things. "Kerbs" is quick hit that had me thinking one thing, then, wham, in one short sentence the twist snared me. I was hanging upside down right to the end. "Celebrity Death Camp and Other TV Hits" is a nice piece of dark satire, that if you despise reality TV as much as I do, will have you cheering in your seat and wishing it were a true story.

David Grant's "REBORN: A Suicide Note" is a perfect mix of clever humor and darkness, just the way I like it and had a really good, unique twist that although I figured was coming, caught me by surprise.

Stephen Honeycutt was up next with "A Moment". A longer story than the previous ones, but one where the book really started to rope me in. From the first salacious couple sentences, I was all in right until the end. This serial killer for higher tale is one hell of a tawdry, dark story.

Still reeling from the previous story, I continued on with Gregory Frye's "The Seven Demons of Randal Murray", which I would have to choose as the best of the lot. This one is very dark and has a supernatural element to it, which when combined with the excellent dialogue and tremendous imagery freaked me out and I'm still thinking about it.

Darcia Helle's Wilted Brown Eyes" is a nice piece of flash that delivers with a moving scene about a murder, or was it?

For fans of straight up, hardboiled noir, Corey Mesler's "The Book Game" will leave you more than satisfied. Very impressive to me was the lead character is not a detective, but an antique book seller. All the expected ingredients are there, plus lots of clever lines and a nice twist.

Nik Korpon's "Amber Flowers" delivers a nice creepy tale that had me thinking it would make a great episode of Tales from the Darkside. Excellent character development, steady build up of suspense, and a rewarding, shocking ending left me more than satisfied.

Last in the batting order was Chris Deal's "A Murder Ballad" and it took me to Mexico with a poignant yet powerful murder mystery. This was more of a slow burn than a quick punch in the face, and written with a style smooth as silk. It made me care about the characters, conjured up some emotions, but still delivered a powerful, almost heart wrenching finale.

I have read a lot of crime shorts and flash this year and I highly recommend this complilation for the stories, the way they are presented, and the diversity of them.


  1. Yeah, it's a cracking anthology. Jason really scored a couple of cracking goals there.

  2. Paul- That's for sure. A little something for everybody. Pablo seems like a nice guy and I hope his venture succeeds, as he sure seems dedicated to it.

  3. Thanks, I will have to investigate this anthology. If you like Corey Mesler's story, you ought to check out his novels. The twists and the language are both incredible.

  4. Rebecca- thanks for the visit and heads up on Corey's longer works. Going to check them out.

  5. Thanks for the great review, Sean. Pablo is indeed a gentleman, or maybe a madman. I haven't figured out yet. Either way, he's doing great things for independent literature.

  6. Nik- Thank you for stopping in, and more importantly for writing a story that was so damn entertaining. I hope lots of other readers get a chance to enjoy the anthology.

  7. Jason- I have to give Paul Brazill the thanks, as it was his blog that turned me on to your blog, which then lead me to the BPP site. Really nice of you to stop in.

  8. This sounds like a winner. Thanks for the head's up Sean!

  9. Salacious, reeling, poignant, powerful, nice creepy, suspense, shocking . . . GOSH, I'M IN!

    Pablo, whether mad gentleman or gentle madman is one fortunate fellow of-the-writes to have a Sean Patrick Reardon review dash some light on dark gritty streets. Congrats to all involved - now kindly excuse my effuse while I go to ponder further.

    Sean Patrick ~ Counting on your soapbox of sincerity when HARBINGER*33 comes to sail. You're the stuff good intros are made of! ~ Absolutely*Kate

  10. Thanks for the good words. This was a great anthology and I'm honored to be alongside these great writers.

  11. Chris R- My pleasure. It is def worth a look. Thanks for all the great stuff going on over at your blog.

    A*K- Whatever you need...just whistle.

    Chris D- Well deserved. I really enjoy your stories and writing style. I'm honored you stopped by.