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The Death Panel: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness Paperback – 23 Nov 2009
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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
Top customer reviews
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.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
- 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.
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.
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.
Several of them deserve a place in any collection of noir shorts worth its salt, however.
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