cover image At Home in the Dark

At Home in the Dark

Edited by Lawrence Block. Subterranean, $50 (360p) ISBN 978-1-59606-917-6

This above average anthology features an eclectic mix of 17 stories, which MWA Grand Master Block (the Matthew Scudder mysteries) labels dark in preference to noir, though they’re by no means as dark as dark has gotten in recent fiction. One highlight is “The Senior Girls Bayonet Drill Team,” a dystopian tale of a new arena blood sport, in which even Joe Lansdale—famed for gonzo excess—holds back on gore and piles on implication. Also notable are Laura Benedict’s “This Strange Bargain,” which works a modern variant on Hansel and Gretel, and Wallace Stroby’s “Nightbound,” which puts his series heroine Crissa Stone through an action-packed woodchopper when her robbery of a Dominican gang money drop goes south. A small portal in Maine gives big game hunters armed entry to Fairyland in Joe Hill’s unsettling “Faun.” On the minus side, some tales suffer from overwriting and characters expending too many pages thinking deep thoughts. Weak endings mar others. Still, crime fiction fans will find plenty to like. Agent: Danny Baror, Baror International. (Apr.)