The 14 new stories Jones (Silver Sparrow, 2011, etc.) gathers seek to expose “the rot underneath the scent of magnolia and pine” in thoroughly modern but oh-so-Southern Atlanta.
Atlanta has its share, maybe more than its share, of prosperity. But wealth is no safeguard against peril. A Hollywood transplant finds that a mansion in Buckhead is far from a safe haven in Tananarive Due’s “Snowbound.” Neither is a high-rise condo next to Phipps Plaza in Kenji Jasper’s “A Moment of Clarity at the Waffle House.” Being married to a city councilman doesn’t guarantee happiness in Alesia Parker’s “Ma’am.” And Jennifer Harlow’s baby-faced killers reveal the evil that lurks even in serene, suburban Peachtree City in “The Bubble.” Poverty, on the other hand, is a surefire path to misery. No one knows that better than the Jamaican transplant whose life in the United States has been a steady path downward in Gillian Royes’ “One-Eyed Woman.” Working in a no-tell motel is no bed of roses, as editor Jones demonstrates in “Caramel.” Nor is selling beer in your backyard a path to glory in John Holman’s “The Fuck Out.” Social service agencies offer no help to the downtrodden in Anthony Grooms’ “Selah.” And turning a new leaf after your release from prison is a waste of time for the soiled hero of Brandon Massey’s “The Prisoner.” Better to seek salvation on the corner of McDaniel and Abernathy streets, like the hero of Daniel Black’s “Come Ye, Disconsolate.”
Creepy as well as dark, grim in outlook, and murky of prose. Hints of the supernatural may make these tales more appealing to lovers of ghost stories than to the hard-boiled crowd.