Nothing Good Happens After Midnight

“Once the Clock Strikes 12”

A Review by Joey Madia

Anthologies are a lifeblood of the publishing industry. At any given time, I’m usually reading at least one. They are a great way to explore a certain genre (in this case, Thrillers) or to learn about new authors whose works you might enjoy.

Author–editor Jeffery Deaver has assembled a notable group of writers whose accolades as far as bestseller lists, awards, number of different languages in print, and sheer productivity most likely equal any current anthology’s on the market, and there’s plenty to highlight among the dozen stories in this brand-new collection, so let’s dive in.

Editor Deaver eases the reader into an eclectic mix of stories with one that treads along a tried and true trope of this genre: serial killers. [Subsequent stories also use this and other tropes: teen pranks turned bad; murderous rampages in snow storms, ala The Shining (notice the title of the anthology echoes King’s Four Past Midnight); and grizzled PIs with a heart.] The cleverly named Stephen Raye Vaughn (“no relation to the famed musician”) is readying to be executed as midnight fast approaches—having ensured his legacy in the annals of agents of big body count through his son. The author, Alan Jacobson, “spent over twenty-five years working with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, the DEA, the US Marshals Service, SWAT, the NYPD, Scotland Yard, local law enforcement, and the US military,” which shows in the details of his tale.

Tale number two, “Cell Phone Intolerant,” by Kevin O’Brien, is a fun “if only I could exact my revenge…” romp through a cantankerous inventor’s seeking of justice for all of us who have suffered the sights and sounds of a rude cell phone user as we go about our day—in grocery stores, public restrooms, on buses, and in traffic. A line from this engaging cautionary tale provides the title for the collection. Continue reading

The Watchman’s Rainbow and Other Works

Review by Joey Madia

DISCLOSURE: For four years the author of this collection of short stories, plays, essays, and poems was a student in my creative writing classes held through an extension program offered by a community college in West Virginia. Most of the pieces that create the seemingly disparate yet unified tapestry of this collection were developed in those classes; I edited many to varying degrees and published early versions of The Watchman’s Rainbow at the literary site for which I am Founding Editor, www.newmystics.com.

That said, my objectivity could rightly be put into question. With sensitivity to such a probable circumstance, what follows is more of a book report than a book review. I have chosen this modification of my approach over the prospect of abandoning the work altogether for one simple reason:

These works are well written, exquisitely researched, and, as the author tells us in several of his Author Notes to the various sections, he has lived at least to some degree the realities that he has crafted into his fiction.

Constituting the bulk of the page-count for this collection, The Watchman’s Rainbow is a geopolitical action-thriller in the tradition of le Carré and Clancy. It takes as its focus the drug wars between the United States and Mexico, although, as writers and able readers know, we do not read or care about subjects when it comes to fiction—we read and care about people. And the person at the core of this collection of stories and theatre-like interludes is Amos Sanson (a pseudonym) who is coming to the end of a long, successful career as a watcher for a cabal led by a man named Simon Stoddard (think Charlie directing the Angels or the voice on the Mission: Impossible recordings). As we first meet Sanson he is struggling, akin to Sherlock Holmes (a character with whom Wyant, like myself, has great affinity) with whether or not to retire in the face of the fact that he is no longer the man he was, mentally or physically, although the villains—and his employers—are making it hard to walk away. Continue reading

Savages: A Triptych

Review by Joey Madia

To begin, a definition: “Triptychs” are typically three-paneled paintings or a photograph series that explores a unified theme in different ways.

The triptych of this collection is three short stories: “Long Live the King,” “The Deposition,” and “Lunar Seas.” Thematically, there could be several broad-based connections between the three stories, as they each cover a range of human emotions and relationships. Other reviewers have put forth their own theories. To me, the triptych here is unified as Past, Present, and Future explorations of what is most “savage” (read primitive, archetypal, low-vibrational) in Humankind’s relationships to its dark secrets as they are expressed in both our codified, societal Myths and the ones we individually construct. Continue reading

I’m Sorry for the Quiet… Good Luck Sleeps in a Fridge

Regarding the Gifts of F.J. Nanic – another bridge to sanity

Review by Grady Harp

F.J. Nanic, as the very talented in many areas my friend Faćo has decided to use as his pen name, was born in Sarajevo, lived and worked in France, America, New Zealand, and Australia. Following his teenage desire to busk his way around Europe, he winds up in Munich, Stuttgart, Aarhus, Amsterdam, Liege, Zurich, Lausanne… When the war in his country broke out, he was studying in Paris. In Laval, he worked with the ex-prisoners of the concentration camps in Omarska and Manjaca liberated by the Red Cross. After their integration, he joined his family in America. He continued on to Australia, as far as the east is from the west…’ How could we not be interested in what F.J. Nanic has to say when he has had exposure to so many stations on the globe and the wild madness that peripatetic writers encounter.’ Continue reading

A Certain Kind of Freedom

Superb Short Stories and Memorable Essays and Poems Compiled and Edited by Beryl Belsky

Review by Malcolm R. Campbell

My objective when choosing the pieces for the anthology was to ensure that they reflected not only literary merit but also the multicultural nature of the website [Writer’s Drawer], as well as universal themes with which we can all identify. — Beryl Belsky, from the Preface

A Certain Kind of Freedom presents ten stories in Short Fiction, ten first-person essays in Stories from Life, eleven poems in Poetry, and three poems in East Asian Style Poetry. While the short stories comprise the most dynamic section of the book, the anthology as a whole successfully fulfills Belsky’s objectives in the preface. Continue reading