Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stories for Sunday: "Cranked" by Bill Crider (Busted Flush, 2006)

This Sunday morning was something special - my upstairs neighbor seems to have gone away for the weekend but forgotten to shut off their alarm, which beeped from 6AM until about 7:15 or so. Not sure if someone turned it off, or the alarm just got sick and tired of making all that racket. I sure did. Even with earplugs, my fan, and the rest of early-morning New York noise coming through my open window, the alarm was unmistakable, and unavoidable.

So, cranky that I was, I decided to read Bill Crider's "Cranked." Winner of the Derringer Award and nominated for an Anthony, "Cranked" was published in Duane Swierczynski's excellent anthology Damn Near Dead: An Anthology of Geezer Noir (Busted Flush, 2006). The cover advertises, "Old, Bold, Uncontrolled" - and if that has some unpleasant double meanings, then perhaps the other quote would be more appealing: "Every Story New!" Which means when you look at its great lineup (Jeff Abbott, Megan Abbott, Charles Ardai, Ray Banks, Mark Billingham, Steve Brewer, Ken Bruen, Milton Burton, Reed Farrel Coleman, Colin Cotterill, Bill Crider, Sean Doolittle, Victor Gischler, Allan Guthrie, John Harvey, Simon Kernick, Laura Lippman, Stuart MacBride, Donna Moore, Zoë Sharp, Jenny Siler, Jason Starr, Charlie Stella, Duane Swierczynski, Robert Ward, Sarah Weinman and Dave White), you have a whole lotta' great new stories to look forward to.

"Cranked" really hit the spot this morning. It's about how a quiet day at a gas station can suddenly turn into a fiery hell when the four wrong people run into each other at the wrong time. There's Karla, a female undercover agent for the drug squad who took a jail sentence for someone else; then there are a couple of crank-addicted rednecks with pistols, one of whom is responsible for Karla doing time; and there's Lloyd, a cranky old man with a stomach problem who just broke out of the nursing home.

Lloyd may be a senior citizen with false teeth, but when you get down to it, he's old-school hardboiled how knows how to kick some serious ass and still charm the ladies:

"He wondered how much fun a man his age could stand and how long somebody who was damn near dead would last with a woman like this one. By God, maybe he’d just find out."

Read "Cranked" online here courtesy of Busted Flush Press.

If you'd like to buy the anthology, you can order it from Busted Flush's website.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Cullen.

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  2. I would recommend this superb anthology and, of course, Mr. Crider's story is terrific.

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  3. As I get older, that quote from the story takes on intersting properties.

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  4. One of the best stories in one of the best anthologies I've ever read.

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  5. REALLY great anthology with good work from Mr. Crider and all involved, but the one I read over and over is Allan Guthrie's The Killer Beside Me - I will never ever ever be that funny.

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  6. And I notice no one mentioned it, but CrimeWaV.com actually has a podcast of the story with Mr. Crider reading it. As always, Cullen, great pick.

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