THE EDGE: TALES OF SUSPENSE #6

Edited by Greg F. Gifune

Thievin’ Kitty Productions / 86 pages

How is it that I’m just now catching on to one of the best platforms for horror on the market? If there is any justice in publishing (there isn’t) I’m one of the few people who didn’t already know about The Edge. If talent will out (sometimes it does) some of these names will be popping up on best-of lists everywhere.

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The Edge makes an art out of the short, sharp stab. The first story up is a disturbing look at the warping of fatherly concern. “Waiting For Trish” is one of those family photos that in retrospect is only creepy foreshadowing for the events to come. R.B. Sayers packs a full load of revulsion into a couple quick pages.

Dysfunctional families and warped childhoods are a big part of this issue. David Whitman’s “With Quiet Violence” and Michael Laimo’s “Milk” take a closer look at that eternal constant of living creatures — the need to protect the young. These two sorrowful tales illustrate that instinct taken to inhuman lengths.

But, if you’ve ever noticed that the maternal instinct is often overestimated, you’ll recognize the extremely ugly truth awaiting you in “American Congo.” Ginny, Bill Hughes’ tainted heroine, didn’t fall through the cracks; she was dropped through, to the carrion eaters waiting in the dark. Like so many others, she never had a chance. It’s a modern tragedy that gets played out every day in this world, in one over-lit corner or another.

“Timeless” and “Life Sentence” muse on the lasting damage of evil, and the act of making the punishment fit the crime. While one portrays the inexorable patience of justice, the other suggests the possibility of a lifetime of suffering. Neither sentence is punishment enough.

The longest piece in the collection is also one of the best. Steve Savile comes through again with a tale of fate, loss, and greed. “Send Me Dead Flowers” introduces the flawed, but compassionate character of Gabriel — a man in the gutter, but never of the gutter. It is a dark story with a sad inevitability that reveals heroics in a man that none but the reader will ever glimpse.

“Tea” holds the enviable spot of “featured fiction” in this issue. Actually, Denise Dumars’ terribly civilized tale of savagery singles itself out by the very atmosphere of the story. While the rest of the pieces in The Edge deal with life, down and dirty, Dumars’ characters could never see themselves mixing with the riff-raff leading up to it; these ladies are much too refined for that kind of thing. Well, there is refinement and then there is refinement. Everyone just assumes that must be a good thing…

Chilling, heinous, even sickening — there’s something in The Edge for every appetite. Just don’t assume every bite will be a pleasure.