Editor Acevedo’s (Blood Business, 2017, etc.) collection of adrenaline-fueled tales follows desperate characters on the run or out for vengeance.
Gabino Iglesias’ opening story, “Faster Than Weeping Angels,” aptly sets the tone. In it, Jaime, fresh out of prison, commits what will surely be deemed a felony. Since he’s determined not to return to jail, the ensuing police chase promises to be high-speed and dangerous. Many of the indelible characters are motivated by revenge, a need to escape, or even self-preservation. This often entails speeding vehicles of some sort, like motorcycles in James R. Tuck’s “Black Sunshine” or a getaway car in Manuel Ramos’ “Sitting Ducks.” But there are differences among the thematically linked stories. Not all are contemporary. Some unfold in a Mad Max–esque, dystopian landscape, including Travis Heermann’s “Kiss of the Sow” (with protagonist Mad Maxine Monahan) and Quincy J. Allen’s “Garvin’s Legacy.” In other stories, characters fuel the action with their own momentum and resolve. In Joshua Viola and Sean Eads’ “For the Road is Heaven,” Jewel struggles to survive in a world seemingly ruled by nomads, while in Merit Clark’s “Rescue,” Linnea’s confronting her ex-hubby’s girlfriend involves a great deal of travel, as well as meticulous planning. It’s perhaps no surprise that the tales are generally somber since they’re filled with violent gangsters, double-crossing criminals, and crooked cops. Multiple scrapes keep the book entertaining, such as that of undercover female agent Grag, who battles outlandish beasts (e.g., a “dog-like lizard creature”) in Gary Phillips’ “Grag’s Last Escape.” Prose is likewise amply detailed: “She tailgated one car after another, flipping lights on and off to move them aside, inching closer to the front of the pack.”
Exhilarating, hard-nosed short fiction with a driven cast.