Introduction by Graham Joyce
RazorBlade Press / 145 pages / 1st edition 1999
Peter Crowther… Peter Crowther… Now where have I seen that name? Ah yes! On the spine of almost every horror anthology in the bookstore. You’d be hard-pressed to name another editor with so many titles to his credit. More and more often though, you are seeing that name as an author in the dark fantasy genre. And you’ll probably be seeing it a lot more in the future.
Peter Crowther, author, is here to stay.
Lonesome Roads is a title that doesn’t promise boatloads of laughs, but evokes an almost instantaneous feeling of loss. No one gets through this life without walking down their own lonesome roads of sorrow. Crowther presents three very different tales with one common denominator that readers will empathise with immediately.
“Forest Plains” combines the isolation of the prairie with the dark secrets of small town life in a story of grief and guilt. A mystery that cannot remain unsolved calls to Lazarus, a Native American with a sense of smell that unravels the enigmas others think long forgotten. It is a “gift” that keeps him forever on the move and forever attached to the land in a way others can never fathom. What he reveals will change the residents of Forest Plains and force them to see everything they have ever believed in a new, darker light.
The inability to get past the agony of loss leads John Penderson into a desperate bid for a “Stand-By.” What appears to fill the void is so much less than he needs, but just changing his mind is not going to be as easy as he hopes. For every deal, there is a payment. For every last ditch effort, there is a risk. John is about to find out exactly how true that is.
When David Milligan’s Uncle Alan showed him how to live in “The Space Between the Lines” he never dreamed he would use that ability in a lethal situation. Now, he must use a power he doesn’t understand to erase a tragedy. What the outcome will be, he can only hope. What the consequences will be, he can’t even consider at the moment. Only one result matters. He thinks.
Three wildly disparate stories. One burning motivation behind each. Crowther’s imagination reaches into places no one else has thought to venture. His work is just like — Well, it’s really just like nobody else’s. Aside from reflective, emotional, and touching, his stories are completely original.
The mood in Lonesome Roads is sombre and the characters are cloaked in anguish. Sound depressing? It’s not. It’s more a fact of facing up to the inevitable in life and getting past that moment when you think you just can’t take it anymore. It’s owning up to something unthinkable so that time can move on.
If they could, all of Crowther’s characters would stop time. Crowther, though, gently pushes them forward into the real world where life goes on, whether you like it or not.