Edited by Zane Lovitt (Spineless Wonders) 2016, 197pp, RRP $27.99

Spineless Wonders are again proving themselves to be one of the most exciting and innovative publishers in Australia, and the Crime Scenes story collection is further evidence of this.

For a publisher known for literary story collections, a crime collection might at first appear surprising. But scratch the surface of any preconceived ideas you might have – as editor Zane Lovitt challenges you to do in his refreshing and pleasingly strident ‘Introduction’ – and Crime Scenes - Edited by Zane Lovitt - Spineless Wonders - The Clotheslineyou will find that within crime fiction are all the elements of perfect storytelling. As Lovitt says, suspense is the ‘atomic purpose’ of crime fiction, ‘It’s why the work exists: to make the reader turn the page with fumbling, sweaty fingers’.

And the stories in Crime Scenes certainly have suspense in abundance. Angela Savage’s ‘The Teardrop Tattoos’ provides that terrible moment of stomach drop, after drawing the reader in with growing dread to the world of an ex-crim whose heart has suffered too many losses. Reading Leigh Redhead’s ‘The Drover’ is like watching a car crash in slow motion – impossible to look away even for a second. Many readers will take perverse pleasure in the character’s self-destruction. PM Newton’s ‘The Mango Tree’ is horrific in its inevitability and believability. Carmel Bird’s ‘The Good Butler’ is a gentler story, but no less moving and acute. Michael Caleb Tasker keeps the reader guessing to the last page with expertly constructed characters in ‘Thirteen Miles’. Eddy Burger’s ‘I Hate Crime Fiction’ closes the collection in great style with a cleverly circular, postmodern spoof of the genre.

The collection, which also includes stories by Amanda O’Callaghan, Peter Corris, David Whish-Wilson, Tony Birch, Andrew Nette and Melanie Napthine, explores the nooks and crannies of a genre that is capable of great depth, emotion and satisfaction. Underestimate Crime Scenes at your own risk.

Lynette Washington

This title is available through the Spineless Wonders website. Click HERE to purchase your copy.

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