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Tales of the Unexpected!,
This review is from: Bad Girls - Eight Noir Stories (Paperback)
Max Scratchmann is part of the stable of writers locked away by up and coming independent publishers Poison Pixie, who are responsible for bringing us the Danny Quadrilogy, of which i have jazzed many superlatives over the past couple of years. In this tiny little book of short, sharp shocks Max has redressed some inbalances within the noir genre. Now I am a big fan of noir in its many forms but traditionally it has not been too kind on the (irony alert) fairer sex: with it's femme fatales being part of the (usually male) protagonists downfall, or even where there are strong, independent women characters, they often come to sticky ends for being so. In this contemporary reversal we find female vengeful spirits, double crossers, quadruple crossers, murderous psychic projections and even a Russ Meyer heroine. However not all the "victims" are male, nothing so simple here: In the morality tale Claire, for example, the protagonist becomes undone for assisting a paedophile husband's sexual career.
I read the stories themselves in one sitting, having got that indefinable "readability" factor. Plus I would rush through to the money shot surprise twist (in the style of Tales of the Unexpected). There's flashes of humour, both black and post modern playfullness (at one point the reader is informed she is being told it like it is whilst genre lip service is being abandoned!)There's also wierdness, horror and fast thrills.Some of the stories have a dreamlike intensity to the narrative, reminding the reader of the original Grimm (Grim?) Fairy tales. Finally, Max has a way of telling his backstories in a few words or clearly understood hints, all good skills in a short story writers bag.