Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Scream Queen and Other Tales of Menace - Ed Gorman

SCREAM QUEEN AND OTHER TALES OF MENACE is the latest collection of Ed Gorman's short fiction from the great Perfect Crime Books. As you'd expect, this is a fine bunch of stories that cross over into a number of genres, although given the title of the collection there's a thread of fear that runs through all of them. "Cages", "Duty", and "The Brasher Girl" (a novella that served as the inspiration for Gorman's novel CAGE OF NIGHT) are science fiction...or horror...or both, if you look at them right. Several stories deal with serial killers. Others feature everyday joes trapped in bad circumstances, like the poker-playing protagonists of "Out There in the Darkness", which Gorman expanded into the novel THE POKER CLUB. This story is just full of pure suspense. The title story "Scream Queen" involves three young men with dreams that may well be unattainable and an actress famous in some circles, anyway, and is more mainstream fiction than anything else. No matter what sort of tale it is, it's told in finely crafted, melancholy prose that goes straight to the heart.

Some of these stories were new to me and some I'd read before, but that doesn't really matter. Gorman's stories are endlessly rereadable because they're filled with fascinating characters and plenty of nuanced observations about the world in which we live. Every time I read one I've read before I see something else I'd never noticed or look at things in a different way than I did the first time through.

If you've never read Gorman's suspense and dark fantasy stories, SCREAM QUEEN AND OTHER TALES OF MENACE is the perfect place to start. If you're already a fan, you know you're in for a treat.

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