CRIMEWAVE 8: COLD HARBOURS

Edited by Andy Cox

TTA Press / 161 pages

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Some people camp out overnight to snatch up a copy of the latest Harry Potter adventure; I moon around my post office now, waiting for the next Crimewave. The strange thing is, no matter how high my expectations are, the magazine always exceeds them. There truly is no other magazine out there that brings readers the kind of stories you see in every issue of Crimewave.

An excellent example of the kind of crime writing readers have come to expect is “Jury Duty” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, a story with dialogue so wickedly sharp you could shave with each word. She takes us inside a complex woman temporarily confined within a complex system. This is a peek into the jury room no reality television could ever capture. Court TV would kill to be there at the conclusion of this trial.

In “Twenty Dollars,” Susan Fry takes a look at the true side of crime with a story that stands in the ruins of the Maquiladoras Murders investigation. The disappearances and murders numbering over 300 in the Maquiladoras areas of Juarez. The crimes date back more than a decade and have seen arrests and convictions but the bodies continue to turn up. The incredibly crooked legal system in Fry’s story makes it much easier to understand how such an outrage has gone on for so long.

A strange tenderness embodies Luke Sholer’s “Adjustment.” The protagonist, a hit man and a lover, is a bewildering character. Should readers root for him or hate him? He is paired with his perfect match in the fiery and wary woman who has such a hold on him it’s having a very disappointing effect on his “work.” Compare this contract killer with the hit men in Andrew Humphrey’s “Think Of a Number” and “Is It Better Now?” by Steve Mohn. You won’t find the suave and witty murderers of the silver screen.

What is it in Joe Hill’s “In The Rundown” and Steve Rasnic Tem’s “Friday Night” that presents readers with a vague feeling of dread from the very first sentence? There is a shapeless threat that comes closer and clearer with every word. The ending is no less horrific for that sense of terrible inevitability, if anything it just tightens the screws, never letting the audience rest for a moment from the upcoming abomination.

Eighteen stories. Eighteen classics. And I haven’t even covered the gritty sorrow of “Black Dog” or the hopeless downward spiral of “The Green Lady.” That the problem with a magazine as good as Crimewave, a mere review doesn’t do it justice; you’ve just got to get yourself a copy and dig in. Be well stocked on provisions, you may not want to break away until the very last word. Even then, you won’t be able to just walk away from these stories. And maybe you’ll start haunting your mailbox, too.