(pb; pulp fiction magazine/anthology: Summer 2015, Vol. 1 Issue 4)
The twenty pieces -- seventeen stories, three author reviews -- in this issue of Dark Corners are worth reading. Some pieces grabbed me more than others, but I could see why the editors included all these works in their latest product -- worth owning, this.
1.) "The Good Step-Dad" -- Heath Lowrance: A hasty marriage leads to domestic hell, where a stepfather feels he has to teach his boy how to be a man. Naturally -- and predictably, if you're a nit-picky reader -- the situation worsens, in violent ways.
What makes this chatty story stand out is how the step-dad -- from whom we hear the tale -- sees the chain of events, as well as their reasons and his justifications. The last few lines of this are stellar, making this work stellar, also.
2.) "Cool Reception" -- Will Viharo: An ex-con and his bigamist wife argue at her wedding. This dialogue-, sex- and violence-driven story is funny (in a dark, nasty way), full of emotional knife-twists and over-the-top intense. Entertaining marriage-is-truly-hellish piece.
3.) "Wolves" -- Ed Kurtz: A farmer and his son try to fend off a harsh winter, starvation and wolf attacks in this bleak-toned Western survival story. It does not go anywhere unexpected, but the writing is excellent in its starkness.
4.) "This Thing" -- Patrick Cooper: Good, pulp-solid tale about a man (Berger) who hires his landscaper (Bauer) to murder Berger's wife.
5.) "Tips" -- Warren Moore: A kidnap victim tries to escape from her Coach, who has just kidnapped her -- this piece is microfiction-effective and darkly funny, with a great end-line.
6.) "Better Man" -- James Queally: Good, pulpy work about a man (Rey) who means to do away with his emotionally blackmailing mistress so he can fully commit to a better woman. Full of twists and turns, this is an entertaining read.
7.) "Guts and a Gun" -- Jason Lairamore: A Chicago man's Vegas trip turns violent when bad money, a monkey and goons get involved in it. Good read, I especially enjoyed the dialogue at the end of it.
8.) "Mayej" -- Emily J. McNeely: A woman (Jennifer) and her melodramatic mother (Brenda) travel through Mexico, unaware that it will suddenly get better. Fun, solid piece.