What prompted me to drop the buck on the Kindle Store for this noir magazine was the name Ed Kurtz, whose story "Peg Leg" appears in its pages. Ed's on fire in 2013, as far as delivering damned good stories goes, and I figured a buck was a steal for this ebook, not to mention an excuse to check out some authors whose work I'd be reading for the very first time.
"Peg Leg" is a heist story, or more specifically a botched heist story. The protagonist, a somewhat dimwitted crook, gets roped in by his friend Poke to do a job together for the first time. Risky, sure, but when the target is local heavy, Porky Valentine, it might be downright suicidal. But Porky has a lot of money ripe for the taking, and presumably it should be easy since there's no safe involved--the money is stashed in Porky's wooden leg. This was just a funny-as-hell story in just how well in shows the mindset of a desperate crook talking himself into a job that he is ill-equipped to pull off. Worth my buck, right there.
Then I moved on to the other stories in the book. Glad I did too, because I found a couple other gems.
"The Neighbor's Dog" by Edward Hagelstein has Huck a browbeaten husband reminiscing about his insanely jealous wife, Betty, and the gorgeous neighbor he met after her two dogs took a dump in his backyard. Well, to be more accurate, one dog did the dead, the other ate it up. Yeck. Anyway, Hagelstein's humor comes through loud and clear through the dialogue in this story, which sees Huck setting himself up for a very bad scene with his wife if she finds out about his fascination with the gal next door. And, oh boy, is that a bad scene by the end of the story comes around.
"Cinders" by Marie S. Crosswell is a very dark, very emotional revenge tale, due in part to the fact that there is revenge sought on two counts. Mitch chases down a woman named Ruby Jean through the woods behind his place and kills her. Why? Because he walked into the house to find her standing over his beaten and bloodied brother, Cole, about to kill him. The murder is vicious, but you get the tragic, unconditional bond between the two brothers. But despite the measures Mitch takes to sweep the crime under the rug, Ruby Jean's estranged husband, Bud, comes to town looking for her. And that leads to the second act of revenge. Oh, man, this was just grim, gritty stuff all the way around. While hard to find someone in the story to root for, it was a suspenseful read, to be sure.
Throw in stories by Joe Clifford, Christopher E. Long, Michael Sears, Benjamin Welton, Justin Ordonez and Thuglit 7 was a hard-as-nails collection of some writers I need to remember down the line when I'm seeking out some up-and-coming crime fiction.