Last winter, I had the privilege of contributing to bstsllr.com‘s first anthology, West Coast Crime Wave, stories of America’s Left Coast from San Diego to Alaska. I contributed the story “Bad History.” For the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at the rest of the stories in this collection.
“Blind Date” by Scotti Andrews
This tale takes place in a Starbucks. Fitting, since it’s one of the Seattle stories in this collection. Kim arrives to meet her blind date, not really hoping for much. She spots her potential beau sipping a latte and doesn’t think too much of him. Her friend was supposed to introduce them, but she’s a no show, so Kim edges in, trying to be subtle. And then Kim arrives.
Looking similar to our Kim, this new Kim is also there to meet her blind date and zeroes in on Mr. Latte Sipper. It’s definitely a case of mistaken identity, and Kim – our Kim – debates whether to leave or not. The Mr. Latte flies into a fit of rage and slits the new lady’s throat. That’s when we learn Kim’s day job. She’s a cop.
It’s one of the most bizarre blind date stories ever told, and in the end, like Kim, we’re left just a bit confused.
“Returning to the Knife” by Dave Corbett
Dave Corbett picks my favorite city in California, San Francisco. It’s a stream of consciousness piece that leaves you wondering if the narrator is on crack, schizophrenic, or simply has the worst case of adult ADHD in all of crime fiction. Our protag goes on and on about a knife, a dog, and blogging. Slowly, Corbett gets his protag to tease the story out, but he does it with one of the most unreliable narrators I’ve ever met.
“The Town at the End of the Road” by Ted Hertel
If San Francisco and Los Angeles are centers of civilization, the villages well beyond Anchorage, Alaska are the far-flung fringe. Hertel’s protag begins stranded in the rain on a dirt road 120 miles from Anchorage. The town he finds is mostly a collection of trailers and shacks soon to be abandoned or locked down for the winter. Why is he there? Well, he kills people for a living, and he’s come to collect his fee. Only he didn’t do the job. His client is a hypocrite who rubs him the wrong way.