One of the truly wonderful outcomes of the move toward self and small publishing in an electronic format is the increase in the number of short story collections available. Previously, there were precious few at the local bookstore. Normally they were anthologies which included a mix of old and new material and even then only one or two a year in the genre.
Sure, there are the exceptions, such as Frank Bill Jr’s excellent Crimes in Southern Indiana, which find their way to traditional distribution. But, as fantastic as it is, it alone is not enough for those of us who love short fiction. Here are some of our current favorite collections available as eBooks and/or on Kindle. Not one of these is priced at more than £2.50, so they represent great value too for crime fiction lovers.
The Chaos We Know by Keith Rawson
This collection plays to the soul of dirty crime fiction and noir. Pulling no punches, offering no pretty hopes, it lays a world at your feet and demands that you respond to it. The stories here are gripping and full of rounded and deep characters and emotion. They just don’t close the loose ends because life doesn’t close all loose ends.
Beat on the Brat by Nigel Bird
This is set of rough stories. Bad luck, poor choices and flawed people fill the pages. There is an air of malice throughout and a need for revenge is never far from the minds of the characters. You will find yourself cheering horrible acts, and rooting for distasteful people. Still, there is hope to be found in these tales from the compassion that can come through all the bad.
Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles by Edward A Grainger
If you don’t feel that the old west is a great setting for crime fiction, this superior work will convince you otherwise. It’s full of developed and empathy-inducing characters. These are compelling and thought provoking stories in a complete and engrossing setting that will transport you to the wild west and into the lives of these two marshals.
Gone Bad by Julie Morrigan
These stories are rough. Disturbing in parts, but never for shock value, the raw and often violent scenes inside are thought provoking. Many times you will find yourself considering the resolution to the events you read about – resolutions that may only happen in your mind as the author leaves you to twist as she does to her characters.
8 Pounds by Chris Holm
This set of dark tales has an unparalleled sense of place. You can see, feel and even smell the surroundings in the stories Holm creates. There are times to follow action, times to fear, and times to be sickened by what you find – not due to gore, but for the emotional impact the stories have. Of special note here is the story The World Behind. It is the best single short story I have read in years.
Brit Grit by Paul D Brazill
What I love about this collection is that I can thoroughly enjoy the story, and get lost in characters, even though many of the terms and social jokes mean nothing to me at all. The language, idioms, and repeated characters and places gave me a sense that these were scenes from the same place over time. It’s a window into a gritty world. The author has indicated that many of these events and characters are based on true events, but one of them isn’t. Check this collection out and see which one you hope is pure fiction.
Dig Ten Graves by Heath Lowrance
This collection of crime and horror is gripping. Mr Lowrance has developed a style and pace that keep you guessing, keep you turning the page and looking around corners. It plays on fear and hope, lifting and dashing as needed.
Pulp Ink edited by Nigel Bird and Chris Rhatigan
Here a series of talented crime fiction writers each took a line from the script or sound track of Tarrantino’s film Pulp Fiction and based a short story on it. Please see our full review of this collection.