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Crimewave 7: The Last Sunset
edited by Andy Cox
TTA Press, 178 pages

Andy Ellis
Crimewave 7: The Last Sunset
Andy Cox
Andy Cox is the fellow behind TTA Press, an independent publishing company which publishes the speculative fiction magazine The 3rd Alternative; a review magazine of short fiction, The Fix; and a magazine of crime fiction, Crimewave. In addition, TTA Press produces original paperbacks and anthologies. All of the books and magazines are available for purchase at the TTA Press web site.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Crimewave 6: Breaking Point
SF Site Review: Crimewave 3
TTA Press

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

By my calculations, there are 9.87 times more magazines available than I can squeeze into my schedule, but there is one that I simply cannot miss. Crimewave has remained on the cutting edge of dark realism while maintaining its high standards and bringing readers the very best in the genre. What a shame it is only quarterly; stories of this callibre a person could easily get addicted to and find themselves in withdrawal a large part of the year.

This issue, subtitled The Last Sunset, is another winner -- crammed to bursting with the "good stuff." Starting out with Gary Couzens' tense, atmospheric "The Missing Man" -- a tale that will remind you that dark realism and crime fiction are not so easily categorised. The pressure in Couzens' short is to the breaking point, but it is not the crime that swallowed up the man in the title that causes most of the strain; this is a deadly love triangle that all three participants would like to erase. Every moment, every word, draws the reader in closer and closer to a hellish situation with no room for a happy ending.

Continuing the vein of stories that reach out beyond the restraints of any genre is "Jump," by Mat Coward. Coward finds his way inside the mindset of a group that might appear to be missing in action. Something happened to Steve and his razor-sharp punk rockers many years ago. Something that split the tight group up and left them seemingly adrift. A murder stands between them and the youths they were; time, itself, is only an excuse to move away from each other and that life.

Maybe that is one of the most compelling characteristics of Crimewave -- there is crime and punishment and evil and greed -- but, the characters and the settings and the mood are absolutely essential here. A Crimewave story that goes forward strictly on the strength of plot or scheme or clever twist doesn't exist. That's just another piece, like any other, and it doesn't belong here.

Take the sociopathic Ellen and Beth in "Alcatraz," or the equally bereft-of-conscience writer and agent in the darkly amusing "Ester Gordon Framlingham." Better to run into those two than the silky voice of Dart Radio, which has a few problems of its own... all violent ones. But compare them to Lesley in Muriel Gray's unsettling "School Gate Mums" and you might change your mind. Hard to imagine there is a character even more creepy waiting in the horror of Steve Mohn's "Foldouts," where you can watch madness passed from parent to child like an heirloom. More moments of family dysfunction await in Ray Naylor's much-too-possible "Catch," reading like a recipe for raising a psychopath.

Woven in among the rest of the tantalising stories are two novel excerpts from HarperCollins: Dead Alone by Gay Longworth and The Distant Echo by Val McDermid. Longworth's snippet includes a gory discovery by a rowing crew that is skin-crawling enough to send dark realism fans out searching for the novel. A missed step delivers a body and a circle of apparently bewildered suspects in McDermid's latest thriller, which you'll want to pick up on the same trip to the bookseller.

What can I say? Crimewave never disappoints. If you're looking for the very best and the most daring crime fiction, it's right there under your nose. Pick it up and see what you've been missing.

Copyright © 2003 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction, horror, dark realism, and humour. DARKERS, her first novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She is a contributing editor at SF Site and for BLACK GATE magazine. Lisa has also written for BOOKPAGE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Science Fiction Weekly, and SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

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