The amazing team at Crime Factory Magazine – Keith Rawson, Cameron Ashley, and Jimmy Callaway – have put together an anthology of twenty-seven stories featuring an almost embarrassingly rich bounty of talent.
Of course it would be unwieldy for me to review all twenty-seven stories, not to mention take the fun out of you discovering some of them on your own, so here are just a few of the ones that were highlights for me…
“Glory B.” by Josh Converse – Ever wondered how robbery crews get together? I mean, do you have to be friends for life, or do you just answer an ad on Craigslist or something? Converse’s taut tale takes a snapshot look at the process through which potential getaway driver Quinn auditions for a robbery crew’s boss. Quinn has three attempts to impress with his driving skills and get a mock getaway right. Screw any one of them up and Quinn not only won’t be driving the getaway, he won’t be driving anymore period.
“Microprimus Volatitus” by Greg Bardsley – You will either find this to be wickedly funny or bizarrely offensive. The story involves a love triangle. Randy begins dating Razelle, at first not aware that she’s been living with Helmut for four years. And though she thinks of Helmut as just a roommate, Helmut is passionately in love with Razelle, which of course causes an intense conflict when Randy hits the scene. Oh, did I mention Helmut is a tiny little monkey the size of a canary? Yeah. And he’s determined to do whatever it takes to get Randy out of the picture, including going to war. I found the story wickedly funny; I’m just weird that way.
“The Method” by Chad Eagleton – Terrence Bledsoe, a “fixer” for the rich and famous (kinda like “The Wolf” from Pulp Fiction), receives a call to help sweep things under the rug when an actress who already has legal and P.R. problems gets in a car accident out in the desert one night. It doesn’t help matters that she’s on her way home after visiting her boyfriend, an A-List Hollywood star. When he arrives, however, Bledsoe’s not convinced things went down the way he was told… who’s really doing the acting, and what’s really getting fixed?
“The Ravine” by Steve Weddle – I know I probably shouldn’t admit to having a favorite, but I can’t help it; “The Ravine” absolutely knocked my socks off. Roy Alison’s road in life has been more than a little bumpy. Drug addiction, a car accident involving fatalities, a bar fight gone wrong, a stint or two in prison. He’s been through a lot in his thirtyish years. We meet him working as a drone for Caldwell Parish, acting as a process server of sorts delivering notices to residents about violations of the municipal code. Having worked hard to overcome “the darkness” in himself, Roy comes face to face with a man with a shotgun determined to test Roy’s resolve to stay on the straight and narrow. Author Steve Weddle does with character development in “The Ravine” in 7 pages what a great many authors can’t do in an entire book. Simply brilliant writing.
“Green” by Chris F. Holm – Stoners aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, let’s just get that out of the way. They do, however, make for a highly entertaining story in this offering from Holm, especially when their stoner logic determines that ripping off a greenhouse out in the country is the most efficient way to replenish their stash. After all, how hard could it be to bust the glass out of a greenhouse and rob from a hippie with a grow license? Plenty hard it turns out, as what starts off as an amusing misadventure goes horribly off the rails.
Featuring stories from established authors and hungry up-and-comers alike, Crime Factory: The First Shift absolutely sizzles from start to finish.
The complete lineup includes stories from: Dennis Tafoya, Andrew Nette, Jedidiah Ayres, Roger Smith, Josh Coverse, Charlie Stella, Greg Bardsley, Hilary Davidson, Kieran Shea, Nate Flexer, Cameron Ashley, Patti Abbot, Chad Eagleton, Ken Bruen, Jimmy Callaway, Dave Zeltserman, Steve Weddle, Craig McDonald, Keith Rawson, Leigh Redhead, Anonymous-9, Jonathan Woods, Liam Jose, Dave White, Chris F. Holm, Frank Bill, Adrian McKinty, and Scott Wolven
Crime Factory: The First Shift is available from New Pulp Press (ISBN: 978-0982843642).
Co-editor Cameron Ashley writes and drinks in Brunswick, Melbourne. He’s done stories for Plots with Guns, A Twist of Noir, Powder Burn Flash, The Flash Fiction Offensive, and Darkest Before the Dawn. He also the Editor-in-Chief of Crime Factory Magazine.