2004 seems to have been the year of the anthology. Not only do I have several to read and review in my stack, I receive several queries and proposals concerning anthologies to be reviewed a week. However, few if any, have such a unique and laugh out loud premise.
Combining a lament heard in bathrooms and adjoining bedrooms across the country, if not the world, with crime and often murder, the resulting twenty-five stories are well worth the read. Some are downright funny from start to finish while others border on the twisted side of looking at life and death. Some readers might even find them perverse. And while each story selected by editor Pat Dennis, who also contributes one (more on that later), are good, I don't have the space here to go into all of them. So here are several in no special order, other than the order they were presented in the book that really made an extra impression on me.
"Nothing Good Ever Came Of A Bad Hair Day by Kris Neri (page 16) tells of the ultimate revenge plot against a certain hairdresser. Image is everything and for the narrator lawyer, a bad style is unacceptable.
"What David Was Doing When The Lights Went Out" by Ben Vincent (page 67) uses the widespread blackout of last year as the setting for his story. It is a bad thing to try to commit murder and to be interrupted by a power failure. They just don't make hair dryers like they used to.
Payback, a theme used often in the anthology, is the theme for the story "One For The Road" by Pat Dennis (Page 79). "Jenkin's Service Station specialized in fixing unnecessary repairs on RV's driven by seniors." Two can play that game.
Then there is "Port-O-Prince" by R. J. Mills, (page 102) where the ultimate resting place for the recently deceased is a unique place. Sometimes your coworkers know you better than you know yourself.
Also included in this very enjoyable anthology are stories by R. T. Lawton, Thomas Bray, Terry Burlison, Michael Giorgio, Nick Andreychuk, Mike Befeler, Peggy Jaegly, Stephen D. Rogers, Michael Learmond, Kevin Carollo, David Dumitru, Beverle Graves Myers, Jeremy Yoder, James C. Wardlaw, Donna Sundblad, Sandra Levy Ceren, Lori G. Armstrong, A. S. Berman, Lance Zarimba, Joan Hall Hovey, and Dean Johnson. While I did not go into detail about their stories, that should not be construed as a negative reflection on their work. Far from it as there is not a bad story in this 190-page anthology. It is all good.
As noted on the back cover, "Twenty-five mystery stories of crimes and bathroom ranging from zany to deadly serious, by some of today's finest short story writers." That pretty much sums it up and makes this book well worth reading. Whether you read in the bathroom or not, remember, please leave the fan on.
Who Died In Here?
By Pat Dennis
ISBN # 0-9676344-2-3
Large Trade Paperback
Kevin R. Tipple © 2004