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A Time for Violence: Stories with an Edge – Review

July 5, 2020

A Time for Violence: Stories with an Edge

Anthologies have a special hold over a reader. Pick up one of the Black Lizard collections and you’ll be transported back to the hardboiled world of Chandler and Hammett and the sexual obsessions of Cornell Woolrich. Picture the scene: It’s 1933. The Great Depression is ravaging America. Some hardbitten scribe is sat plugging away at his Remington typewriter. Nothing but half a bottle of bourbon and an ashtray of full of cigarette buds for company. He’s down on his luck and the rent is overdue, but with a little bit of wordsmith’s magic the story he’s working on will appear in Black Mask and Cap Shaw will be sending him a cheque to clear his debts.

Those days may be long gone but their spirit lives on. A Time for Violence: Stories with an Edge is a new anthology of crime stories comprising the work of established writers and rising stars. It’s filled with noir tales by authors who, one might say, are unofficially honouring the legacy of Black Mask writers such as Raoul Whitfield and Paul Cain. In the introduction Andy Rausch writes:

The theme is violence, plain and simple. But why, you ask? Are we encouraging or promoting violence? Are we rejoicing and revelling in the physical harm of others? No, of course not. So, why violence then? Well, A Time for Violence was a cool title, which was where it began, but beyond that, it’s a simple theme that inspires edgy, transgressive material. And at the end of the day, that was the real theme – edginess and transgression.

Violence takes many forms, from the emotional to the physical, and these stories seemingly cover every possible manifestation of violent act and thought ever devised by man. Don’t let the title make you think this is just a compendium of gore-spattered horror, although one or two stories do lean that way. Most of the stories examine violence in its other day to day forms. The book gets off to a cracking start with ‘Blood Brothers’, a disturbing look at soured brotherly love by Richard Chizmar. Quarry fans will be well-served by ‘Guest-Service’, which sees the titular assassin running a hotel and running away from his past in the idyllic Sylvan Lake, Minnesota. There are also riveting tales by Chris Roy and Paul D. Brazill among others. I’ve still got a few stories to read, but that’s the beauty of a collection of this kind. A dog-eared copy will sit proudly on your bookshelves, just waiting to be revisited.

A Time for Violence: Stories with an Edge is a pitch-black crime anthology, perfect for these cynical times.

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