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After its first year, the quarterly Dark Yonder has developed a great source of direction for noir and crime fiction. Editors Kay Munger and Eryk Pruitt find some of the freshest and diverse voices moving the genre toward its next level. In the recently released fifth issue, you will find at least one favorite new author if not all ten of them.

The first two stories deal with the strain of marriage bonds. Tom Andes follows a husband planning on cheating on his wife with a man he he hooked up with online in "You Still Here". The story skillfully plays into the fear and nervousness of setting up an intimate moment with a stranger. I couldn't help but think of Melania and Donald while reading BV Lawson's "Family Matters" where a cheating politician's wife fights to get out of her marriage and prenup.

Another two use the classic noir setting of the bar. Dana King vividly captures the denizens of a dive with other activities than serving drinks in "Bartender Blues" Colin Brightwell became my author discovery with his "Like A Good Irish Catholic" with a young lady pouring Jamesons and plotting revenge.

Nick Kowlski's "Rebirth" gives us a character I hope he expands into other stories and books. His hero "extricates" his rich clients from their lives. This job is a rapper trying to escape his associates after him creates a cool, stylish shoot-em'-up.

The issue taps one of my favorite authors, ed Kurtz. His story "Pop" follows a trailer park criminal who sells the laundry detergent she steals at flea markets, Kurtz ties this crime to a larger one with a ribbon of black comedy.

The other tales also provide inventive approaches to the crime fiction formula. K.A. Burks uses family secrets for a a grunge gothic tale. Barbara Mumari's "The Unfolding Of Sam Lipton" becomes an interesting play on the woman between two men trope. James D.F, Hannah gives a corrupt mining operator his dark due in "Nothing More and Nothing Less". The collection ends on a dark comic note with two people working on an elderly couples sex dungeon in "The Playroom."

All of these stories give new spins on the genre, including the ones with their feet deeply planted in it's traditions. Dark Yonder Issue 5 continues the providing reads on the wild side. I look forward to see who Katy and Eryk round up for issue six.


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