DAMN NEAR DEAD 2 edited by Bill Crider

Book Quote:

“Then he told me who he wanted to invite. It was a can’t-miss lineup and it turned our everybody David talked to wanted to be in the book. They were eager to contribute not for the fame and fortune (well, that too) but because they wanted to write their own version of geezer noir.” ~ Bill Crider

Book Review:

Review by Chuck Barksdale (DEC 31, 2010)

Busted Flush’s latest collection of new short stories Damn Near Dead 2 is a follow-up to Damn Near Dead (2008), this time with not only a new collection of stories, but also new authors that were not in the first collection. Bill Crider, who won a Derringer Award for his story “Cranked” in the first collection, is the editor of this new collection of “Geezer Noir,” which starts with an introduction by Charlaine Harris.

As the title implies, these stories all contain main characters that are older and often retired. However, I’m not really going to argue or discuss whether they are in fact all “noir” stories as that’s just a topic that I’m not sure anyone would agree on, although I’m fairly certain many would not agree that all of these are in fact noir stories. Nonetheless, this is an excellent collection of new crime fiction stories from many famous and not so famous writers. In fact, some of the best stories in the collection (such as by Patricia Abbott, Gar Anthony Haywood and James Reasoner) are not by those lucky enough to have their name on the cover (Ace Atkins, C.J. Box, Christa Faust, Ed Gorman, Carolyn Haines, Joe. R. Lansdale, Denise Mina, Marcia Muller, Bill Pronzini, Cornelia Read, Kat Richardson, S.J. Rozan and Don Winslow). Of course, not surprising, some of these more famous writers also had some of the most enjoyable stories.

The 28 stories in this collection are presented in alphabetical order of the last name of the author. The collection starts out with one of the best stories in the collection, “Sleep, Creep, Leap” by Patti Abbott. Bob Mason watches and watches out for his divorcee next door neighbor Wendy Larsen and her new apparently violent boyfriend. Gar Anthony Haywood’s story “Some Things You Never Forget” has Vernon and Billie spending an adventurous afternoon away from their White Haven nursing home. In “Warning Shot,” James Reasoner’s old night watchman accidentally kills a burglar and then must deal with the burglar’s brothers who he believes will seek revenge.

I had read several of the authors before and was certainly looking forward to reading their stories, such as Bill Pronzini’s “Trade Secret.” I think he is an excellent short story writer and his story certainly was as good as ones he has written in the past. In Pronzini’s story, Easy Ed Malachi tries to hire a retired hit man to do one last hit using one of his trade secret methods to resolve a power struggle between two former mob friends. Another novelist known as an excellent short story writer, Ed Gorman, also did not disappoint with his “Flying Solo.” Gorman’s story has a retired policeman and retired teacher both dealing with cancer and their desire to help others that develops while sharing time while undergoing chemo.

David Thompson, the original publisher of Busted Flush Press, was instrumental in both the original and the sequel Damn Near Dead geezer noir collections. Unfortunately, he died suddenly at the young age of 38 and missed the opportunity to see this book published and discussed as part of NOIRCON in Philadelphia in November, 2010. Fortunately, I was able to attend NOIRCON and heard the great things said about David and his contribution to this book by several of the authors, including Christa Faust, Patti Abbott, S.J. Rozan, Scott Cupp, Scott Phillips and the artist Jeff Wong (who provided the amazing cover). Reed Farrel Coleman, an author in the first collection, also participated in the panel.

I also was looking forward to reading the stories by Anthony Neil Smith and Don Winslow. Anthony Neil Smith was entertaining and instructive in his “Through a Rearview Darkly: A Revisionist History of Noir” panel at Noircon (with the amazing Megan Abbott!) and I was interested in seeing what story he would include in this collection. After seeing him in person, I was not really surprised that the title of his contribution was “Granny Pussy.” His story is of an aging former pimp who comes out of retirement with his former prostitutes to take advantage of the growing interest in older women. Smith’s story was definitely one that has stayed with me as the pimp struggles as an old man to do what he found much easier at a younger age especially as he begins to lose his memory. In addition, I had heard a lot recently about Don Winslow and his story, “Old Men and Old Boards,” shows the struggles of an aging man that still enjoys his 1954 surfboard.

This is a great and enjoyable collection although I did find the print or spacing a bit of a problem for my 50+ year-old eyes, so if that’s a concern you may want to wait for a digital edition. This book also includes a short biography of each author at the end of the book. Although this collection contains many famous authors and many that I had read previously, I still found this reference helpful especially for the authors I did not know or know very well.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-5-0from X readers
PUBLISHER: Busted Flush Press, LLC (November 30, 2010)
REVIEWER: Chuck Barksdale
EXTRAS: Busted Flush website Damn Near Dead 2
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris


December 31, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Posted in: Mystery/Suspense, Noir, Short Stories, y Award Winning Author

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