by Doug Levin
Levin chooses Portland for his setting. Bridget is a seemingly slow worker at a nursing home that has big trouble. Her boss, a “nice lady,” has been dismissed by the parent company in Seattle, and Mr. Gruber has arrived to find out who knew what. Bridget is pregnant and seems scared for her job. It doesn’t help that her boyfriend is a bit of a leach.
Levin starts with Bridget bewildered at the sight of her boss carrying a box of her effects out to her car escorted by a security guard. It takes most of the story to learn what really happened, and, of course, how much Bridget actually knew about it.
by Terrill Lee Lankford
Matt Clark is an LA cop having a really bad day. His partner is shot. His wife is cheating on him. While going on an understandable bender, he runs afoul of two cop-hating drunks at a bar where he’s not welcome anyway. By the time Clark returns home the next morning, his life in LA is pretty much over. The totally random ending sells this story, completely unexpected, but so fitting for this bleak tale. Lankford’s LA is Michael Connelly’s LA (Not surprising, since the two have worked together before), only Lankford’s LA is much darker.
by Brian Thornton
James Robbins Jewell is the new Treasury Department Immigrant Inspector for Gilded Age Seattle, then a territorial port. Jewell begins in the morgue, attempting to identify a dead China man found in Puget Sound. The police don’t want the case, and the sheriff won’t touch it (Shades of The Wire‘s second season), so it falls on the only true federal authority in the Washington Territory. Jewell finds the dwindling Chinese population of Seattle unwilling to talk to him. Only when he meets a deal maker between the immigrant community and white settlers does he discover the bizarre lengths Chinese are willing to go to in skirting immigration laws. Thornton, the editor and an author of historical books, plays to his strengths here, painting a picture of a Seattle before Starbucks and Microsoft and Boeing.
by Jim Winter
So why haven’t I mentioned mine? These summaries have been combination jacket blurb and review. So I’ll talk about why “Bad History” and it’s prequel, “Highway 101” are set in the Bay Area. About four years ago, I went to San Francisco twice on business. Both times I had a day and a half to myself that I spent exploring the area. I hiked Mt. Diablo. I had dinner in the Mission District. I walked the Golden Gate Bridge and drove up the 101 through Marin County. I fell in love with the area, and, as I was about to become single again, contemplated a move to the City. That didn’t happen, but I really missed the area. “Highway 101” was written about a year later, inspired by a relative who was trying to go straight and my love of the Bay. When Brian Thornton approached me about doing a story, I did not hesitate. I had to write about what happened to Brian Selkirk after escaping his former cell mate. I’m very proud to be a part of this collection.