Sure, this means I'm not likely to say bad things about the anthology. But it doesn't necessarily follow that the good things I'm about to say regarding PULP INK are thereby false. In fact, you can strap me to a lie detector and test my veracity: There are some exceptionally fine stories in this collection. Were that not the case, I would go to some lengths to pretend I had no part in this whole scheme, instead of parading the fact that I got a story placed in the same book as -- ahem! -- Allan Guthrie. As Reed Farrel Coleman. As Hilary Davidson. As Gary Phillips. Not to mention a host of other excellent writers whose names are not (yet) so well-known.
I'm not going to beat you over the head with details on each and every story. There are 24 of them, for crying out loud, and I can't sit here holding your hand all day long. So these are my very most ultra-favorites in this collection. Each of them alone, I promise you, is worth the $2.99 USD price of admission:
- ZED'S DEAD, BABY by Eric Beetner. I've already said it in other places around the 'Net, and it bears repeating: This is a terrific story: fast-paced, tightly written, sharply focused. The protagonist, an enforcer type, is on the hunt for Zed, to do a little, uh, enforcing. But everyone says Zed is dead. Everyone has a reason to lie, too. But it isn't really enforcement until someone loses a finger, is it? This one will have you grinning wickedly and will make your thumbs ache. And not because you're using an e-reader with poor page-turning features.
- YOUR MOTHER SHOULD KNOW by Allan Guthrie. Oh, the lengths little Masie will go to prove to her love for young Billy. May lightning strike her down if she's lying. Nobody does personality disorders quite like Guthrie. Scary good with that, he is.
- YOU NEVER CAN TELL by Matthew C. Funk. Nina's baby is near to saying his first word. Nina's husband is near to killing his fourth man in this perfect tale of revenge and genetic redemption. Possibly my favorite of all of Matthew's stories, and that's saying something: This guy has a Spinetingler win under his blotter.
- A WHOLE LOTTA ROSIE by Nigel Bird. You can have a good laugh with Rosie. You just can't laugh at her. This one has a sad, skewed feel, and is written in Bird's signature style of short, brisk strokes that imply more than they say.
- CLOUDS IN A BUNKER by David Cranmer. A hostage stand-off in which a WWI bomb expert threatens to take out himself and the missus. What kind of killer puts the police negotiator on hold while he sees to the teakettle? For anyone who thought Cranmer's best work was the Western tales done under his Edward A. Grainger pseudonym, have another think while I just go and check that bloody teakettle.
- THE WIFE OF GREGORY BELL by Patricia Abbott. Here's a story Rod Serling would have jumped all over for his Twilight Zone series. Every time Gregory's beautiful and beloved wife goes on a business trip, Greg indulges in a little criminal activity. And each time he does, his wife comes home with a new and bigger flaw in her looks. But that can't have anything to do with his bad behavior. Can it?
- THE OCTOBER 17 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MEETING by Chris Rhatigan. A reporter writes himself into a corner. Then illustrates his stories with a shotgun. This may be the one time he doesn't really want to make headlines, but it's a little too late to do the 'write' thing now.
- THIS LITTLE PIGGY by Hilary Davidson. A foot massage can go too far. Especially when it doesn't go far enough.
- THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD EVER REACH ME by Matt Lavin. Willie has the world's worst job, with the worst co-worker. And the most dangerous of employers. After all these years, why would he risk their wrath now.? A poignant take on the old story of, the old glory of love.
And if you go so far as to read all of those, you might as well spend a couple of minutes and read my story, too. Triple-dog dare ya!