Featuring both award-winning, best selling authors as well as some very talented newcomers, West Coast Crime Wave‘s eighteen stories take place from Alaska to L.A., and everywhere in between.
Though every story in the collection is well worth the price of admission, there were a few that particularly leapt off the page for me.
“The Last Ship” by Bill Cameron starts the collection of with a bang when a retired police officer checks into a remote B&B in Oregon to recharge his batteries following a run-in with the business end of a biker’s gun. He gets more than he bargained for, finding himself caught up in the conflicts of the eccentric owner and the B&B’s few full-time residents. Drugs, nefarious wrangling for power of attorney, and a local legend involving a faerie ship – yes, you read that correctly – combine to make this atmospheric entry both very entertaining and very creepy.
“Blind Date” by Scotti Andrews – When Kim heads out to Starbucks to meet a blind date she’s got a bad feeling it’s not going to go well. Little could she have known just how badly it would go. Mistaken identity, a very large knife, Kim’s cop instincts, and a crowded coffee house add up to the worst blind date in history.
“Returning to the Knife” by David Corbett – This stream-of-consciousness entry almost defies description. In broad strokes, an internet-based pillow merchant appears to be giving a rambling confession to a horrible crime – “The knife, yes, I’m getting to that. Keep your horses on.” – while in what we presume to be police custody. Or is he just admitting to providing epically poor customer service based on an extremely misguided business model? I absolutely adored this frenetically creative offering from Corbett.
“Fred Menace, Commie for Hire” by Steve Hockensmith – Hired to locate a screenwriter who’s gone missing on the eve of testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, private investigator Fred Menace brings his unique pro-Marx, anti-bourgeois capitalism perspective to bear on the case. With his customary tongue planted firmly in cheek style, author Hockensmith serves up a semi-hardboiled story that manages to offer both an intriguing missing persons mystery as well as a serious spoof of old-school P.I. stories.
“Jackie Boy” by Sam Roseme – Exiled from the East Coast when his working relationship with the mob goes south, private investigator Jackie Giacomo heads out to sunny California to set up shop. Hired by a mysterious firm to keep tabs on the CEO of a huge medical systems corporation, Jackie settles into his usual routine of surveillance. Things take a decided turn for the surreal when Jackie not only witnesses the CEO’s murder, but subsequently finds himself plastered all over the news as the prime suspect. Now Jackie has to stay one step ahead of both the law and the killer in order to figure out who set him up.
“Officer Down” by Simon Wood – When police officer Webber is shot twice in the chest by a perp, with his own weapon no less, his bullet proof vest prevents any serious damage to his body. His mind, however, isn’t so lucky. Despite being cleared by the department shrink to return to duty, Webber finds himself obsessed with finding the young thug who shot him – and his missing service piece – before either of them can do more damage. And even though he knows his brothers in blue are doing everything possible to close the case, Webber believes he has to take care of business himself if he ever wants to be whole again, as a police officer or a man. “Officer Down” is a powerful look at the lengths people will go to in order to silence their inner demons.
With cover art by contributor Bill Cameron and a foreword from the legendary Ken Bruen, the complete West Coast Crime Wave lineup includes stories from: Scotti Andrews, Steve Brewer, Bill Cameron, David Corbett, Ted Hertel, Naomi Hirahara, Steve Hockensmith, Thomas Hopp, R.T. Lawton, Terrill Lee Lankford, Doug Levin, Nick Mamatas, Sam Roseme, Karla Stover, Jim Thomsen, Brian Thornton, Jim Winter and Simon Wood.