CRIMEWAVE 8: COLD HARBOURS

Edited by Andy Cox

Reviewed by Gary McMahon

Crimewave has rapidly become one of the most respected mystery titles around, and what you get is something more than your average magazine. In fact Crimewave is much more than a magazine: it's an irregularly published anthology filled with well-written dark fiction.

The presentation is superb, with eye-catching design and a moody cover image. Everything about the publication speaks quality.

In this latest issue we have stories about murder, revenge, a rather troubled jury member and lots more. A few stories stood out from the rest for me, and it's these I'll look at in more detail.

First we have Twenty Dollars by Susan Fry, a beautifully told tale with a truly devastating ending. The writing is stunning, the characters well drawn and the tone pitch-perfect. Set in a small Mexican town rife with corruption, you can feel the dry heat and taste the dust in the back of your throat as the author expertly guides you towards a remarkably grim conclusion.

The inimitable Joel Lane's terse, crisp prose is instantly recognisable in Black Dog, which is black as pitch and bitter as they come. This is another troubling tale from a very dark place, suggesting once again that Lane's crime fiction is possibly even bleaker than his horror - and both are consistently brilliant. This story is well worth the cover price on its own.

In my opinion Stephen Volk is one of the unsung heroes of genre fiction, and with Time Capsule he's at his subtle and most elegant best. My only complaint is that we never see enough of Volk's work (but this is soon to be rectified when Gray Friar Press release his story collection, Dark Corners later this year).

This latest tale is certainly no disappointment. It's difficult to say much about the plot without giving the game away, so I'll say only this: it's a small-scale masterpiece with a sublime ending that simply takes the breath away and leaves you thinking about it for days afterwards.

How To Build Your Own Coffin by Scott Nicholson focuses on a serial killer with a very strange test for his would-be girlfriend. This reminded me of the great Jim Thompson at his most cynical, and made me want to seek out more of the author's work.

Joe Hill is a writer whose work has risen to prominence with the release of the incredible book 20th Century Ghosts. In the Rundown appears in that collection, and I was pleased to read it here for a second time. In his tribute to Ruth Rendell, Hill gives us a baseball allegory that requires no knowledge of the game. It's an excellent story about a character digging himself deeper and deeper into a metaphorical hole after encountering a woman doing something very nasty in a parked car.

The final scene is deliciously inevitable and wonderfully ambiguous--the writer leaves us to provide our own ending.

In conclusion, I can say that Crimewave is well worth a look. It contains a varied range of fiction, and I'm sure you'll find a story to suit your mood. As long as that mood is dark...

Crimewave 8: Cold Harbours edited by Andy Cox. Digest size, 164pp, £6.99 or £22/4 (non-UK, refer website). Published by TTA Press, 5 Martins Lane, Witcham, Ely, Cambs CB6 2LB.

Website: - www.ttapress.com


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