Modern life seems to have a soundtrack for everything. Even crime.
CRIME + MUSIC: The Sounds of Noir, collects twenty darkly intense, music-related noir stories by world-renowned mystery authors Brendan DuBois, Alison Gaylin, Craig Johnson, David Liss, Val McDermid, Gary Phillips, Peter Robinson and, from the music world, Galadrielle Allman, author of Please Be With Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman and award-winning songwriter-novelist Willy Vlautin. Edited by novelist and Wall Street Journal rock and pop music critic Jim Fusilli.
The lively anthology’s chilling, sinister tales tap into the span of rock and pop history, ranging from Peter Blauner’s heart-wrenching “The Last Temptation of Frankie Lymon” to Fusilli’s “Boy Wonder,” set in the world of contemporary electronic dance music; from Naomi Rand’s “The Misfits,” a punk-rock revenge saga to Mark Haskell Smith’s menacingly comedic “1968 Pelham Blue SG Jr.”; from Reed Farrel Coleman’s study of a one-hit wonder, “Look at Me/Don’t Look at Me” to Erica Wright’s account of betrayal among minor talents in “A Place You’re Likely to Find”—and many more.
In the hands of these modern masters of mystery fiction, CRIME + MUSIC exposes the nasty side of the world of popular music, revealing it to be the perfect setting for noir.
The biggest reason for me to reading this collection of short stories was that a story by Craig Johnson was included. Unfortunately, it was a story I had already read and not a favorite short story of mine. But, re-reading made me like it better this time. Many of the names in this book were unknown to me, besides Craig Johnson have I previous read books by Alison Gaylin, Val McDermid, and Peter Robinson. So, I was curious to see which stories would work for me. And, I'm really pleased to say that most of the stories in this book were good. Only one or two did not completely work for me, the rest was enjoyable to read.
The big drawback, for me, was so many of the stories was interesting, but I would have loved to read them as full-length novels instead. So many of them had potentials, but often I felt that because of the length did they not really have time to develop the story and its characters. However, what I really liked was that this collection has me a chance to discover several new authors that I want to read more from.
I want to mention some of my favorite stories in this collection. For instance, Played by Death by Bill Fitzhugh is one that I would love to see as a full-length book. A serial killer that stages the victim's death to evoke the title of a classic rock song. That's just awesome! Earworms by Zoe Sharp is also pretty cool. Torture through music, with a twist. Another one is The Last Temptation of Frankie Lymon by Peter Blaunder. This one does not really feel like a crime novella, but it's good. The kind of story when, despite being so short you start to care for the character and its characters. Finally The Blackbird by Peter Robinson. That story just grabbed my attention, so tragic, so good!
I want to thank Three Rooms Press for providing me with a free copy through Edelweiss for an honest review!
Jim Fusilli is the author of eight novels. He also serves as the rock and pop music critic of The Wall Street Journal and is the founder of ReNewMusic.net, a music website for grownups. He lives in New York City.
Craig Johnson is a award-winning, NY Times Bestselling author, best known for his Walt Longmire mystery series, which has garnered popular and critical acclaim, and was adapted for a TV series on A&E. He lives in Ucross, WY.
David Liss is a bestselling American novels and essayist, best known for his historical-mystery work including the Edgar Award-winning A Conspiracy of Paper, A Spectacle of Corruption, and The Whiskey Rebels. He lives in San Antonio.
Val McDermid is a Scottish crime writer, best known for a series of suspense novels featuring Dr. Tony Hill. She lives in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland.
Alison Gaylin is the author of the Edgar-nominated thriller Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed and Heartless; and the Brenna Spector series:And She Was (winner of the Shamus Award), Into the Dark, and the Edgar-nominated Stay with Me. She lives in Woodstock, NY.