In their submission guidelines, the editors of this crime and noir website are aggressively specific about what they are looking for: “Please have crime, violence, murder, mayhem and chaos. Or a monkey.” But they don’t like serial killer stories or tales with hitmen because both have been overused. (I didn’t know that. You learn something every day.) And they would like the writer to think outside of the box.
There are eight stories in this month’s production, and I can genuinely say I enjoyed every one of them. The top picks are close but I give a slight nod to “Red Pistachios” by Joe Clifford, who has also served as editor-in-chief of Gulf Stream magazine. This very engaging story rekindles an age-old theme of the washed up, alcoholic writer who steals an idea from one of his students and suddenly finds his career soaring into orbit once again. Predictable complications arise…
Another story rich in detail is “Skinner” by Joseph Winter. It concerns three long time friends who are heavy into buying and selling drugs, and they have developed a peculiar relationship as a result. Flashbacks provide the reader with background information as one of the trio decides to extract a little vengeance for past transgressions. “Just Once” by Robert McClure is an absolutely delightful tale about two bank robbers who promise each other they are going to do the dirty deed “just once.” There is plenty of good dialogue here, and the reader is kept on the edge of his seat waiting to see if they can pull it off with the various inevitable hurdles thrown their way.
This is a colorful website with archives that are readily available and easily found. It tends to be a bit crude, however, with the editor – Big Daddy Thug – addressing his audience in what might be described as a contentious, in-your-face manner. There is plenty of humor, but also more than a little profanity, and a tone that some readers could find offensive. The wonderful thing about the explosion of lit mags in the United States today is the great variety of presentation, style, and content. In this case, a little more professionalism might be considered.