Edited by Weldon Burge — Weldon Burge, a Delaware native, is a full-time writer, editor, and publisher and his stories have been featured in anthologies and publications such as Suspense Magazine, Grim Graffiti, Ghosts and Demons, and many more. In Uncommon Assassins, Burge has put together a treasure trove of 23 stories by some of the biggest names in the biz such as F Paul Wilson, J Carson Black, Ken Bruen, and even a story by Burge himself. These works all feature one common thread: assassins of some kind, but as the title states, they’re not ‘common’ at all.
It’s rare that every story in an anthology will knock my socks off and this one is no exception, but the vast majority of the stories are highly enjoyable. Of course, a few I enjoyed more than others, but there were really no clunkers in the bunch. The collection opens with Nightshade by Stephen England, which tells the story of a CIA man that is desperately trying not to become one of the monsters and battles guilt in the face of a tough mission. Thriller fans will have lots of fun with that quick and exciting read.
One of my favorites was For the Love of Boys by Rob M Miller. Now, the title is a bit creepy to begin with, but it’s really not what you think. The story is told from the point of view of a deformed man who was abused as a child and who has made an interesting choice for his life’s work. It’s beautifully written and a bit shocking and even though I began to suspect what was going on before the reveal, it was still very powerful.
Bloodshed Fred is a short little chiller by Monica J O’Rourke about a hitman that gets the tables turned on him in a most tragic and fitting way. Second Amendment Solution by Billie Sue Mosiman is the tale of a woman whose husband is taken by Homeland Security and she calls on an old friend to help her find him, and this friend will do just about anything to get the husband back. Misconceptions by Matt Hilton is a rather violent, twisty little yarn about a hitman whose been hired by a woman to kill her husband, but the hitman has other plans, and nothing is more important than getting paid.
Everybody Wins by Lisa Manetti is about a woman who wants to commit suicide and visits a very different suicide help counselor that makes her an offer she can’t possibly refuse. The Pepper Tyrant by J Gregory Smith is an unusual story about a man in Durango, Mexico, who, after being threatened by one of the local thugs, challenges him to a pepper eating competition where the stakes are very, very high. I really enjoyed this one. Another highlight is Weldon Burge’s story, Welcome to the Food Chain, about a hitman who enjoys his work just bit too much, and who has a rather gruesome and vivid imagination.
Uncommon Assassins is a nicely put together anthology and there’s something to love for crime and mystery fans alike. As with any good anthology, you’ll probably discover a new author that you’ll want to add to your to–be-read list, and also some stories from some old favourites. I encourage you to pick up a paperback copy because the cover art by Nanette O’Neill is just fantastic, but it’s an undeniable steal on Kindle.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars