Hello, everyone! I hope you are taking care of yourselves and remembering to still enjoy yourself, even if it’s at home, in these stressful times. If you’re looking for something to read, I just finished this lovely anthology, Blood Business, that might help keep you entertained.
Blood Business was edited by Mario Acevedo and Joshua Viola, and is like two anthologies in one since half was dedicated to crime stories from this world and the other half were supernatural crime stories. In total, it contained twenty-seven stories, equating to 334 pages, and was published November, 2017.
The anthology featured tons of talented writers, such as Betsy Dornbusch, Warren Hammond, Chris Holm, Kat Richardson, Jeanne C. Stein, Alyssa Wong, and Stephen Graham Jones. I even met one of the authors, Angie Hodapp, at the Bloody Valentine event in February. She read a portion of her story, “Jane Doe Must Die”, which is the main motivation for my buying the book! She was also kind enough to sign it for me.
Obviously, it would be a bit much to go into every author in the anthology. You can check out the table of contents on the Blood Business Amazon page.
The grift. The scam. The double-cross. Blackmail and burglary; murder and larceny. Blood Business tracks the underbelly of human nature as it drags itself through the muck of our lesser angels in twenty-seven crime stories set in this world… and beyond. – Blood Business Amazon page description
As I mentioned before, the anthology was divided into two themes. “Crime Stories From This World”, which featured thirteen tales of crime with no supernatural aspects to them. Then “Crime Stories From Beyond”, featured fourteen tales of crime with horror themes.
The straight crime tales ranged across themes of vengeful townfolk, roaming girl gangs, mental illness, a stripper femme fatale, and a robber’s bet gone wrong.
The supernatural side had stories that brought the terror with ghouls in love, a cannibalistic investigator, murderous math, a mob snitch that just won’t die, an eldritch serial killer who just wants to go home, and a man haunted by a string of numbers that chains his fate.
“Blood Business is as satisfying as a stiff drink after a tough case. Deliciously gritty, and dark as a day-old bruise, these stories will thrill any noir fan.” – Jaye Wells, USA Today bestselling author
So, let’s be honest here – and I’m sure this will surprise exactly no one who regularly reads my blog – but I preferred the supernatural side of the anthology. I really just enjoyed the supernatural twists in those stories more, compared to the plain crime stories. A few stories on the “Beyond” side that I loved (in the order they appear in the anthology) were:
- “A Clamor of Bones” by Alyssa Wong: this story featured a woman known as a “deadtalker” who worked odd jobs (much like a P.I.) and can communicate with the dead, and also glean information by eating their flesh. Yum. The story revolves around her trying to locate a missing girl. I loved the characters, especially the protagonist’ s sassiness. On top of that, Wong created a super intriguing world that left me wishing the short story was actually a novel.
- “Divided They Fall” by Patrick Berry: in a way this didn’t feel like a horror story at all, but it was terribly clever. The characters are numbers, like actual numbers. The protagonist is Twenty-Two Sevenths and he is a P.I. who receives a request from a hot little number – ahem – named Perfect Ten. I stole that pun from the story. The story is full of them. The murder? Zero got long-divided. ‘Nuff said.
- “Jane Doe Must Die” by Angie Hodapp: Hodapp read a bit of this story at the event and left me on a cliff hanger so I had to get it. It starts with police arriving on the scene of a haunted house where the ghost of a Jane Doe relives her death over and over again. The lead investigator feels a strange pull to this spirit and is desperate to know why. Overall it was such a solid story and satisfying read.
Truly, there wasn’t really a story on this side that I didn’t enjoy!
The regular crime section of this anthology didn’t ring as well with me. I’m horribly biased though. You all know I love, love, love my horror so regular crime can be just a bit boring to me. Still, there were some stories that I appreciated and I think other readers, less biased readers, will really enjoy both sections.
- “Bone on Wood” by Mark Stevens: this tale focusses on a pastor trying to connect with his community, while also enjoying his own demons of drug addict and sexual intrigues with the secretary. I enjoyed this story because it reminded me a little of folk horror, where the whole community bands together and outsiders better watch out!
- “Slug” by Paul Goat Allen: overall, I liked how the author split up sections with different meanings of the word “slug” and tied it all together cleverly. This is a great story to feel some serious satisfaction in this story of revenge.
- “Morphing” by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro: this story was bittersweet and deals with mental illness. It deals with the protagonist trying to take care of his pet snakes, while fending off a growing population of rats. The author does a great job of creating a realistic protagonist and spiralling his descent into madness.
A great anthology for sure, especially for those who love crime tales. The tales in this collection range over so many different topics, no two stories are even close to one another. So, not only will you have a fantastic time reading this anthology, but you will also be supporting an indie publishing house.
x P.L. McMillan