SuperNOIRtural by Ian Rogers
Ian Rogers knows how to write a Private Investigator. I've read a lot of "Supernatural PI" fiction (both long and short) over the years (from Steve Niles' Criminal Macabre to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and short stories in collections such as Weird Noir) and what struck me about Roger's novellas is his ability to wrap the mundane PI work around the supernatural. "Real World" PIs work insurance fraud, messy divorces, missing people... did I mention insurance fraud? It's not the most exciting stuff, but in beginning his stories in 'normal' case work and then layering the supernatural over top (along with a great sense of humor), Rogers strikes an excellent balance and delivers on both plot and character development. His "Black Lands" are a great concept and feel natural to the world, never forced into a story. Looking forward to Rogers taking Felix Renn on a novel-length adventure.
North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud
I don't think I can praise this collection of stories enough. Ballingrud's NALM blew me away - from its dark beginnings with, "You Go Where It Takes You," to, "The Good Husband," the bizarre and crushing finale, NALM is filled with incredible stories. I met Ballingrud very briefly at Readercon before he had to run off to the Shirley Jackson Awards ceremony (the novelette, "Wild Acre" included in NALM was nominated) and I wish I'd had more time (and already read the book!) to discuss some of the stories with him. My favorites in the collection are "The Crevasse" (HAUNTING Lovecraftian tale), "Sunbleached" (one of my favorite vampire short stories), and "The Good Husband" (Very unsettling... I just finished the book, and this one will sit with me for a long time.) If you are a fan of dark fiction, this is a must read collection.
Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola
JOE GOLEM is a book that has been on my to read list since before it was released in early 2012. I'm a big fan of Golden/Mignola collaborations and they continue to impress with JOE GOLEM. While the story is excellent and well paced from the first pages, the true star for me is the the Drowning City (a sunken Lower Manhattan) and it's inhabitants: Felix Orlov's home in an abandoned theater, Church's life-extending steampunkish leaky organs, Dr. Cocteau's rubbery gas-mask men and the Lovecraftian influence throughout. The world of the Drowning City comes alive through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Molly McHugh - the canals, creaking walkways between buildings, the survivors - good and bad. JOE GOLEM is a lesson in world building, one that I'm sure to return to again.
Joe Golem and the Copper Girl by Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola
THE COPPER GIRL is a short story that takes place prior to the events of THE DROWNING CITY (avoiding spoilers here.) It's a great little tale that centers on Joe Golem and one of his adventures/investigations with Church. I know it's a long shot from what I've heard, but I'd love to read more of these short stories. The world of the Drowning City is just too rich to let go.
Jerks and Other Tales from a Perfect Man by John McIlveen
McIlveen is a master of absurd comedy. From the first page of Jerks (featuring a woman and her... dog of sorts), to Saddled Vengeance (a wild western that will make you itch) and How To Make Sure Your Dream House Is Not Haunted, McIlveen had me laughing out loud. Highly recommended for someone in need of a bizarre/quirky tale or two to brighten their day.
Needle Summer 2013 edited by Steve Weddle
Another fantastic issue of Needle: A Magazine of Noir. Standouts for me were "Satan's Kingdom" by Dennis Tafoya, "Double Shot" by Bruce Holsinger, "Erwin's Main Attraction" by Scott Miles, "A Favor in Paradise" by C.J. Edwards and "Tricks" by Neliza Drew. After the pleasure of reading Summer 2013 and Fall/Winter 2012 issues, I'll definitely be digging into the Needle back catalog. For consistent high-quality crime fiction, Needle can't be beat.
On the Lips of Children by Mark Matthews
Matthews delivers some terrifying moments in ON THE LIPS OF CHILDREN. The novel sucked me in from the first page, continuing to ratchet the suspense on the way to a satisfying conclusion. The scenes inside the tunnels were especially well developed. For horror fans who like their fiction gritty and intense - Matthews does not disappoint.
The Tent by Kealan Patrick Burke
Plain ol' nasty monster horror. Burke really surprised me with THE TENT. I approached the book with mild expectations (I'm generally not a creature horror guy - though I love Burke's work) but Burke managed to put me on the edge of my seat from page one. The creature(s) in this novella are so damn nasty and creative they make all others in recent memory down right boring. I won't spoil (I typically don't, but especially in this case where we are talking monsters - it's all about the surprise and reveal) so go pick it up and find out for yourself. A perfect read for the fall.