Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dip Into The Lake

In an effort to introduce readers to new authors and their various collections, Crystal Lake Publishing released four short stories as part of their Crystal Lake Shorts:

In Victorian London, a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal Ghost Club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.

This is one of the tales.

In the House of the Dead is a Ghost Club short story by William Meikle and told through the fictional voice of Bram Stoker. The story itself is revealed through letters and journal entries. Although there is little action to be had, the suspense is captivating and the ending is rather ironic, given the nature of the situation. I think Meikle did a good job capturing the spirit of Stoker.

On a trip through the Sipsey Wilderness Area in remote Alabama, a couple is rescued from the flooded river they’re canoeing by two burly men in overalls who seem to have their best interests in mind.

That’s until the two brothers deliver Blaine and Casey into the horrifying nightmare that is their twisted household—the patriarch of which is involved in a project that exceeds the human realm.

A Puddle in the Wilderness is a Varying Distances short story by Darren Speegle and I'll be damned if I can describe it at erotic chaotic alien mind trip? That sounds about right.

Teen sleuth Beatrice Beecham and her gang of friends have a new case to solve. In the coastal town of Dorsal Finn a timber wolf escapes from a smuggler’s boat at White Wharf. Livestock is found mauled, and the locals are crippled with fear by the hideous sound of snarls and howls in the moonlit nights.

Because Dorsal Finn is not like any other town, things are often drawn to it, strange creatures that are not meant to exist. Now Beatrice and The Newshounds have to find out if the creature roaming the fields and moors is actually an escaped wolf, or something far more sinister. And somehow stop it before the beast adds the residents of Dorsal Finn to its menu!

The Wolf of White Wharf is part of the Beatrice Beecham series by Dave Jeffery. This story is campy young adult fiction with some supernatural elements in an attempt to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, the story didn't live up to any of the hype. I honestly wouldn't recommend this story to anyone above age 13.

Fires are being started in abandoned warehouses in the older industrial area of San Francisco, and none of the professionals in the fire department can figure out how they're being started in order to catch the arsonist. 

What is the motive? 
Why is the arsonist setting fires? 
Some kind of psychological perversion?

Firebug is part of the Frozen Shadows anthology by Gene O'Neill. I enjoyed the spark accompanying the journal entries, but found the ongoing investigation somewhat suffocating. I'm not sure if the author wrote the opposing moods that way on purpose or not, but it highlights the differences between the two main characters: one starting fires, one trying to put them out. The supernatural element is so subtle, maybe it is a figment of the arsonist's imagination, but it's a brilliant touch to the story.

Crystal Lake Publishing hasn't been around as long as some of the other dark fiction publishers, but they have a diverse stable of authors with all kinds of stories and novels to choose from. If you're looking for something new, readers should definitely check out their website.

As always,

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