Monday, September 26, 2016

Review: Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #1

Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #1, September 2016, 210 pages, Killer Women Ltd, ISBN: 152720071X

Reviewed by Ewa Sherman.

Even if you haven’t yet heard the term ‘Killer Women’ you must have already read their books. Sixteen, London-based, bestselling and award-winning female crime writers have formed a group to offer innovative events, debates, talks and workshops to libraries, book groups, bookshops, literary and art organisations, turning their written words into spoken words of encouragement, debate and fun. They have been working incredibly hard organising the Crime Writing Festival 2016 due to be held in October. The Killer Women have also filled their first anthology with fifteen unique and brand new short stories, each representing the original styles of the authors. Their combined personal and professional experience is vast and varied hence no subject is a taboo, no topic is off the menu, no evil is left alone.

With endorsement by the one and only, much celebrated Val McDermid, who has also written the foreword, and including short biographies of all the writers with information on what inspired their particular stories, the selection is a wonderful invitation to read more. Or to get to know the featured authors: Louise Millar, Alex Marwood, Tammy Cohen, Melanie McGrath, Colette McBeth, Jane Casey, Erin Kelly, Sarah Hilary, Louise Voss, Alison Joseph, Helen Smith, Kate Medina, D E Meredith, Laura Wilson and Kate Rhodes. These Killer Women are no strangers to psychological suspense, thrillers, mysteries, historic crime series, contemporary detective fiction and police procedurals.

The tales vary in length because there’s no template for how long a good short story should be, and when the theme is right, and the observation is precise, they just work. So these sharp, imaginative and concise samples of their talent encompass fantasy, obsession and supernatural, mundane and boring, unusual and perfectly explainable. A real-life event that can spark excellent writing. Dementia and tricks that the human mind plays. Loneliness and vulnerability. Broken window and noisy crows. Buried secrets and manipulation. Wicked women and untrustworthy men. Clothes. Noises in the old house. Overstepping boundaries. Art.

Even as the bleakness is about to descend, a dash of humour and a moment of reflection come to the rescue, or the unexpected twist turns a story into a criminally satisfying surprise. This collection of written miniatures resembles a box of fine chocolates, each with a different filling under the silky cover of a darkness of soul and mind. But you might want to reach for a glass to calm your nerves, or to celebrate...

Ewa Sherman, September 2016

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