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The Death Panel: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness [Paperback]

Tom Piccirilli , Scott Nicholson , John Everson , Simon Wood , Randy Chandler , Brandon Ford , Cheryl Mullenax
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

23 Nov 2009
Comet Press presents 13 stories from authors of dark crime, suspense, and horror. Ultra violent, hardboiled, with an unhealthy dose of the macabre, The Death Panel is a no-holds-barred, in-your-face hard ride to hell. Authors: Randy Chandler, Tim Curran, John Everson, Brandon Ford, Kelly M. Hudson, David James Keaton, Scott Nicholson, Tom Piccirilli, Zach Sherwood, David Tallerman, Fred Venturini, Erik Williams, Simon Wood.

Product details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Comet Press; 1st edition (23 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982097999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982097991
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,373,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Bookgasm -

Sarah Palin is good for something after all. Her fearmongering over the health care mess coined a phrase that inadvertently gave Comet Press a terrific title for a crime-based anthology, in THE DEATH PANEL: MURDER, MAYHEM, AND MADNESS, edited by Cheryl Mullenax.

The loose theme yielded some tight writing. Thirteen stories are included, many from young upstarts rather than established vets, and this is a rare case where there's nary a dud among them. However, that assumes you have a strong stomach and a mind that's not easily offended. And if that sentence causes an eyebrow or two to twitch, are you in for a treat.

The fatal fun begins with Randy Chandler's "Lipstick Swastika," in which impotent hotel detective Trench investigates a fourth-floor guest of Twilight Towers: a buxom German woman who is rumored to be a N@zi war criminal. What happens when e'er the two shall meet was a wild, welcome surprise, setting the reader up for an expectation-shattering 200 pages to follow. As I read this first story, I thought Trench had franchise potential written all over him, and sure enough, the "About the Authors" section at the end confirms that Chandler beat me to the punch.

"The Neighbor" is next, and it's your first indication that the book doesn't flinch in the gore department. Brandon Ford tells the tale of two trailer park denizens, one of whom has a taste -- both physically and sexually -- for dead girls. Its gruesomeness is one-upped -- or three-upped, or whatever -- later with John Everson's "The Mouth," about a kink-seeking deviant who meets a mentally handicapped woman whose vagina is where her mouth is supposed to be, and vice versa. True love! The term "outrageous" doesn't even begin to cover this one.

After that punch to the gut, it's nice to have Simon Wood onboard with the playful "Parental Guidance," a jet-black comedy about a loving father who spills his secrets to a neighbor about making his son behave. It's too bad ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS isn't around anymore, because this clever number would be a shoo-in for an adaptation.

With sharp writing and a crisp design to match, the anthology makes a strong case for 2009's best. It's only Comet Press' third release, but already, the small-press label has distinguished itself as a reliable name brand. Pick it up, if you've got the balls. --Rod Lott -- Bookgasm, December 24, 2009

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 Great Tales 28 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I should warn anyone thinking of getting this book that it is quite violent and gory in places, and although ultimately the tales revolve around crime there are a few horror type tales here with demons, and even werewolves. All the thirteen tales are well written and this book will definitely grab your attention.

Whether it is a hotel detective having a run in with a wanted female Nazi war criminal, to angels and demons or sick serial killers, this book is not for those just looking for nice comfortable stories. Sexy and violent, with some great black humour in places this is well worth reading. Some of the authors you have undoubtedly heard of before, but there are some you probably haven't.

If you like good sexy, violent pulp reads, then this book should be just the thing you crave.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally awesome (but not for the weak stomach) 8 Mar 2014
By Max - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My expectations from this book wasn't too high - I just wanted to read something between noir and horror, not searching for masterpieces. But this compilation absolutely BLOW my head - I can't say that a single story is better or worse than another.

Other advantages:
- Plenty of genres. Every story is unique, there you can find and full brutal splatterpunk, and practically "bloodless" suspense story.
- High level of writer's craft. I dare to say that it's like a "Hall of Fame" for dark fiction authors. Tom Piccirilli, Randy Chandler, Tim Curran, John Everson...

You won't be disappointed by the Death Panel, I promise.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Anthology Of Both Veterans And Newcomers 31 May 2011
By William M Miller - Published on
This violent and dark collection is one of the better anthologies I've read in a while, and is strictly for adults only. The diversity of the stories is sure to keep the reader on their toes. Highlights include tales by Tom Piccirilli, Randy Chandler, Brandon Ford, Tim Curran, and Fred Venturini. A special story - the book's guilty pleasure -- "The Mouth", is written by John Everson, and not to be read by anyone with a weak stomach. Fans of Edward Lee's hardcore stories will be right at home with "The Mouth". Even my least favorite stories here are above average, so you are sure to have a good time with all of them. "The Death Panel" is a quick read and definitely recommended.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing collection 7 Jun 2010
By Jacob Gustafson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Death Panel is a collection of dark crime/thriller/horror stories that covers alot of ground. Some of the stories are hard boiled detective riffs like the wonderful Detail by Fred Venturini about an ex-cop that specializes in cleaning out cars and keeping his mouth shut. Others are hybrid detective/horror stories like What Makes and Angel Cry by Kelly M. Hudson about a bar on the line between heaven and hell while others are just plain strange like John Everson's The Mouth about a sexually obsessed man and a woman with genitalia where her mouth should be and her mouth where her genitalia should be. Weird, gross, and most importantly memorable sum up the collection. Of course top honors goes to Tim Curran, whom also wrote the best story in Vile Things, this time out with Fly By Night, a great horror/detective hybrid that left me begging for more. The great thing about Comet Press and the Death Panel is that most of the stories here are by unknown or underground authors while also including known writers as well, this time Tom Piccirilli and John Everson. It seems that the Death Panel specializes in damn good writing whether its an unknown or a best seller and all the stories collected here are new as well. All from 2009 or 2008 which is also a pleasure. I can't tell you how many short collections I've bought only to find out all the stories have been published somewhere else 10 years ago. Not so here.

The Death Panel is a fun fast paced read with wonderful stories throughout. Just like with Vile Things, not all of the stories are gems, but all of them were fun to read and enjoyable. Many of the same authors from Vile Things have entries here and will have entries in Comet Press's forthcoming Sick Things, a collection of creature shorts, which just shows Comet Press's dedication to publishing new talent and maintaining a stable of amazing authors. Recommended.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the death panel: not for grandmas 20 Feb 2010
By A. Hempel - Published on
While this book probably wouldn't be the best to give Grandma for her birthday, it might be just the kind of twisted stress relief you might need for a visit with extended family. The stories cover a wide swath of the horror genre, so while not every single story was something I enjoyed, if you're at all a fan of a good demented read, this is for you.

My favorite story in the mix is David James Keaton's "Nine Cops Killed for a Goldfish Cracker." Although certainly not devoid of slaughter (as the title makes perfectly clear) the story has the only narrator I felt myself really rooting for. There's much more to the story than cops and crackers, and Keaton's sense of language is of a different degree of sophistication than the rest of the anthology's tales. I'm hoping to see a collection of this writer's stories out sometime soon. If the rest of his stuff is this good, he'll be a hit fast -- you'll want to be able to say you liked him before everyone had heard of him.

This isn't to say the other stories aren't a good read, though I did find myself more than once annoyed that it seems women exist in these stories only to be killed. I wasn't so much offended as a feminist but as a reader. Knowing what's coming from the first pronoun is annoying.

The story destined to burn its way into your brain is "The Mouth," by John Everson. I described its basic premise to my mother, who screamed and told me to stop. While the story does have a dark (very dark -- very, very dark) humor to it, the story's language felt somewhat rough around the edges -- not in terms of foulness, which doesn't offend me, but that it might have benefited from a few more rounds of revision. Still, though, read it -- if only because I did and now certain images are seared into my consciousness and therefore should be in yours, too.

It's interesting that not one of the authors is female (yes, Kelly M. Hudson is a guy, and if you don't believe me, read "What Makes an Angel Cry" -- although you should read it anyway) but the editor is a woman. What does this mean? I don't know, frankly, but it's something to ponder as you read the book. Because you should. Have I mentioned that?
3.0 out of 5 stars More Than a Few Standouts 25 Nov 2012
By Char's Horror Corner - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
3.5 Stars!

This was a decent short story collection which featured a good mix of veterans and unknown authors. The standouts for me were Lipstick Swastika by Randy Chandler and The Mouth by John Everson. These two stories were a good mix of erotica and horror.

Blood Sacrifices & the Catatonic Kid by Tom Piccirilli

The Neighbor by Brandon Ford

Fly by Night by Tim Curran (This author almost always captures my attention!)

Rindelstein's Monsters by David Tallerman

Backseat by Eric Williams

Seven memorable stories out of thirteen isn't bad. As a whole this collection didn't knock my socks off, but the stories that were good stood out as VERY good.
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