by Cynthia Chow
Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.
“There’s something about the car.” That first line in Gary Phillips’ introduction to this collection of car-themed short stories by the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime perfectly encapsulates the enigmatic atmosphere and introspection that so often occurs in our beloved automobiles. The close confines of a car and hours spent in traffic force us to either contemplate one’s own thoughts or have deeply intimate conversations with a seatmate without the requirement of uncomfortable eye contact. Some of our most memorable experiences are associated with our cars, and this is reflected in this wonderful compilation of short stories of love, hate and violence, all occurring within our vehicles.
In Laura Brennan’s “Driving Dead Daisy,” one of my favorite of the short stories, a car thief working a scam as a chauffeur finds her client, Daisy Mac, inconveniently deceased in the backseat of her limo. How the thief turns the tables on the murderer after deciphering the true target is a satisfying thrill ride, as the layers of deception and double-crosses unfold. Just as impactful, but in a very different way, is Julie Beers’ “The Last Joyride,” which features a long-married couple reliving their best memories within a ’66 Mustang convertible.
Fans of the old “Alfred Hitchcock Hour” television series will enjoy Sally Carpenter’s “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-In,” where the nephew of the owner of the last of the drive-ins resorts to the most drastic of acts to fulfill his plan to update what he sees as a dying breed of cinema. The final twist in the tale sprinkles in a little supernatural with a lot of lore concerning an experience that is quickly becoming extinct.
The highways always seem to be a picking ground for serial killers, and that becomes evident in the darker tales of Miko Johnston’s “By Anonymous” and “Not My Day by Stephen Buehler. Eric Stone as well finds a brilliant–if horrific–method of managing highway congestion in his very sharp and menacing, “Traffic Control.”
Perhaps the most unique is Beverly Graf’s futuristic “Shikata Ga Nai,” where in 2020 a car chase with collateral damage manages to take down the culprit, delivering justice in a roundabout but very final method. If this is but a sample of Graf’s proposed series featuring her two detectives, readers will have much to look forward to in the future.
This is only a sample of the short stories featured in this highly entertaining and extremely well-written collection of crimes and misdemeanors surrounding our American obsession with automobiles. Remember to buckle up for a bumpy, dark, sometimes amusing but always entertaining ride by this talented group of Sisters (and Brothers) in Crime authors.
To enter to win a copy of Last Exit to Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Exit,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 21, 2013. U.S. residents only.
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