Short Reviews – Crime Fiction in 2023

Andrew Leon Hudson

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T he end of an issue, but not of an era – also the end of our first year of regular non-fiction offerings, which will certainly not be the last. Our guest reviewers have now covered all four book-length corners of our genre interests; in line with this column’s mission and the issue’s thematic focus, I’ve scoured less high-profile segments of the crime publishing scene to add a very restrained mere three to the seventeen shorts I’ve previously recommended elsewhere for a nice round twenty.

The Folkie by Steve Cashel appears on the site of Close to the Bone Publishing, a small UK press with a crime fiction bent. In it, a trio of small-time Scottish thugs assemble at the end of their small-time day jobs to track down and assault a small-time boxer (using, “appropriately”, in the case of our supermarket worker slash gangster wannabe, a broken-off box cutter). They go on the hunt with a list of their target’s preferred drinking spots to guide them, but only encounter much live-music of the folk variety, and eventually their frustrations start to get the better of them… with consequences. A good little story, again reminding that there are more varieties of crime than just the big showy ones.

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T he second story to get a mention here doesn’t appear in a magazine, in fact. Although not previously on my radar, Reedsy seems to be a writer’s app or self-publishing business or author resource and community site, part of that including some pay-to-play contests – which last bit, ehhhh, isn’t my cup of tea to be frank. And yet their first contest winner of 2023, based on the prompt “Write a story in the form of a list of New Year’s resolutions”, is pretty good stuff.

Resolute by Saeda Rose contrasts a list of perky give it a go! self-improvement pledges with the Very Bad Time that is had by the pledger who set out to satisfy the first of them; subsequent goals provide sometimes ironic preludes to the continuing action. The story is written in the tricky-to-do-well Second Person tense, meaning that pledger is you, the narrative often presenting as if a sequence of instructions which the reader/protagonist follows. 2ndP POV is a style that’s become almost its own trope, a thing some people really don’t click with (and “list fic” is another, in fact), but I’d say this is an example of the thing done well (both things done well, if it comes to that).

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M y final rec appears on, which bills itself as “a blogazine of crime stories and occasional reviews”. As stated several times now, I’ve tried to steer clear of speculative fiction through this entire issue, but this story actually brings us close to breaking that commandment, with either a bit of the supernatural or a bit of the science fictional, if not actually both.

In Dollar Fortune, Archer Sullivan deftly paints the commonplace and the unusual of small town American settings: universals, like kids playing ball in the street while the adults clink beers or townsfolk eager to reminisce about a cherished regional mystery, contrast with quirky personalities found only here, in this case an old man who sells prophetic visions for a dollar from a homemade booth in a parking lot. When our narrator spontaneously decides to pay this oracle, the cryptic message he receives sends him on a journey of discovery – or rediscovery – regarding his vanished girlfriend, a topic still much discussed by locals who have no idea just how noteworthy the story will prove to be. Dollar Fortune turned out to be one of my favourite short reads of the whole year.

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And with that, Mythaxis Magazine bids farewell to 2023. We wish you the very best for the year ahead, and shall return in the Spring with what is already shaping up to be some varied, striking, and high quality new genre fiction.

Happy New Year!


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Andrew Leon Hudson

Author image of Andrew Leon Hudson Andrew is a technical writer by day, and is technically a writer by night as well. In addition to editing Mythaxis he has been published in a small handful of quality zines, and co-authored a serialised alternate history adventure novel. He lives in Barcelona, Spain, and doesn’t do things online often enough to count.

© Andrew Leon Hudson 2023 All Rights Reserved

The title picture was created using Creative Commons images – many thanks to the following creators: Darcy Lawrey and Luis Quintero.

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