Hardcore Hardboiled

Todd Robinson, Author, Otto Penzler, Introduction by . Kensington $14 (308p) ISBN 978-0-7582-2266-4

Drawn from Robinson's online magazine Thuglit , these 25 mostly solid crime stories will largely appeal to those with a taste for explicit violence. (For others, one description of mutilated genitalia is likely to be more than enough.) The best entries rely on subtlety and spare character portraits to make their point, like Mike MacClean's “McHenry's Gift,” the account of a drug runner's legacy with a vicious twist at the end that O. Henry might have appreciated. Dark humor propels Duane Swierczynski's satirical “The Replacement,” in which a drunk driver is sentenced to live out the life of his victim. Bill Fitzhugh's “The Neighbors,” about post-9/11 hysteria in California, does a nice job of playing off readers' expectations. In contrast, Vinnie Penn's “Trim,” a predictable and gory tale of revenge, makes an impression solely because of its gross-out factor. As Otto Penzler cautions in his introduction, this anthology is not for the fainthearted. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
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