The Chaos We Know, Rawson’s recently released collection, features over twenty of his short stories and represents a mixture of new offerings and previously published work. A few of the standouts…
“The Anniversary Weekend” conclusively demonstrates that crank is never an appropriate anniversary gift. When two reformed tweakers find themselves without the kids and with $100 to burn on their anniversary weekend they decide to cook up a batch of meth. The collapse into paranoia and brutality that follows is nothing short of epic. Definitely should have stuck with a nice cake.
“Three Cops” proves to be one too many for a strung-out junkie on a delivery run when what starts as a routine traffic stop for littering ends with a hostage situation in a rest stop bathroom. What happens in between, well, you have to read to believe. Let’s just say there is apparently nothing a junkie won’t do to hide his stash… and gun.
“The Sons of Greatness Take It In The Ass” takes the reality show craze and combines it with the current economic climate to great effect in this stark, but darkly humorous, offering. Having recently lost his union job to a crony of one of the wise guys who control the union leaders, a young family man comes up with a unique way to get both revenge and some money.
“Hide and Seek” is anything but child’s play. Strong-armed into babysitting for the four-year-old daughter of his boss, a man runs out to pick up a pizza and returns home to the horrific realization it probably wasn’t the brightest idea in the world to leave the little girl alone with his two rambunctious, mischievous young sons.
“Clinical Trial” is my favorite of the collection. Rawson takes the seemingly routine setup of an affair gone wrong to new depths of disturbing in this story, which also involves a scientist working on a top secret compound for the military, a cabin in the woods, and perhaps the most chilling last sentence I’ve ever read.
And those are but the tip of the Chaos iceberg. Every story in the collection offers a brutally vivid look into the lives of people who’ve either already hit the down button on their personal elevators to hell, or are standing on the precipice staring into that abyss.
I think it’s time for Keith to stop billing himself as “a little-known pulp writer” since it’s clear that he’s not only one of the hardest working members of the crime fiction community, he’s one of the most well-known, talented and respected as well.