Take a Shot: Luke Block on The Ultras, Eoin McNamee

Like good friends and lovers, some books just find you at the right time and when you need them the most. I found The Ultras, a brutal 2004 novel by the Irish writer Eoin McNamee, in a battered and dusty second hand bookstore in my hometown of Gravesend. Sitting alongside the Grisham and the Rankin […]

One Man’s Trash by J. Ethan Begley

I’m the guy you warned her about aight.  Ain’t nothin’ to be done ‘bout it neither. Creech was one of those wirey black dudes who looked weak until his muscles corded out and knocked the life outta you.  Lanky arms became fists with reach.  Christian Santos knew that now, frail and crumpled on the motel […]

Come Out Swinging by Andrez Bergen

I stepped up to the plate and moved to king-hit the bastard from behind. Sure it was cowardly, but also a pretty nifty manoeuvre, done without a moment to second-guess myself or opportunity to nut out a different course of action. His head was unprotected, an obvious target dressed up in messy, straw-coloured hair. A […]

Keep It Tight, Keep It Clean by K. M. Indovina

“Oh Jesus. Oh fuck. Oh Jesus. Oh fuck,” chanted Eddie. “Just hold him together. Shut up and hold him,” yelled Frank from the front seat. His knuckles were almost blue from gripping the steering wheel tight. Jared moaned. A low, soft exhalation. I hoped the poor bastard wasn’t conscious. Both of Eddie’s huge hands were […]

Drinks at Romero’s by Chris Leek

Kelly sat at the bar, fingering her purse and sipping the kind of drink that came with a paper umbrella and a suggestive name. She had dressed to blend rather than kill; a little black dress and a pair of fuck-me-pumps. Her blonde hair was piled high save for one curl that rested seductively on […]

Ceiling Fan In My Spoon by Brian Panowich

I’ve been here fourteen years. Today’s the day.  Sammy brought me a steak.  He’s a pretty good guy, I hope he gets the fuck outta here before this place kills him on the inside. I deserve to be here. Day in, day out, twenty-three hours in this box, and thirty minutes in the yard.  I […]

A First Time for Everything by Bill Baber

When I found Skeeter Hyland he was a fuckin’ mess. Chucky Nuts found him before I did. All I was supposed to do was break a bone or two. Chucky had done more than that and now I would have to find Chucky. Shit, I didn’t relish that thought. I was liable to end up […]

Low and to the Left by Dana C. Kabel

“Are you deaf?” He shouted with spit. After his .38 went off next to my ear, I kinda was. Said, “I kinda am.” That earned me a slap. The bitch of it was, the gun was still in his hand and my nose opened up from the edge of the gun sight. Blood gushed down […]

Take a Shot: Ed Kurtz on Death of a Red Heroine, Qiu Xiaolong

While recently browsing a local bookstore with some time to kill, I came upon a display of paperbacks from independent New York-based publisher Soho Crime. I was quick to realize that their line consists entirely of “international mysteries,” meaning crime tales that largely take place outside of the U.S., and the first of the lot […]

Coffee, Tea and Me by Beau Johnson

Looking back, I never would have guessed I could be this type of person.  In my opinion, it proves the existence of God, or at least narrows the implication of him; that we do have free will.  It is only because of this rational that I carry on. I believe there are two types of […]

Grease Monkey Bokor by Ryan Sayles

“Daddy, what’s that gunk under your fingernails?” “It’s from the shop.” “The shop makes your hands black. That stuff is red.” Kids. They notice everything. “Well, this time it made my hands red. Now scram, I’m trying to shave.” The kid leaves, just to be replaced by the wife. “You haven’t taken your medication in […]

Fall Guy by Jim Spry

The bloated gypsy stamped around like a hippo with a hard-on. Twenty-four stone of cheap booze and fast food, he pumped his fists like a TV wrestler, hacked a ball of phlegm onto the concrete floor. His cocaine-gaze bored into me like maggots in dead flesh. He dragged a thumb across his tattooed throat. “I’ll […]