top of page


Brrutal & Strange is the latest crime fiction anthology to pay tribute to a musician. Editor Jim Fusilli rounded up some of the genre's most taltented to write a story based on an Elvis Costello title. many of the tales have the inventiveness and the playful, wicked humanism often found in the tunes.

It kicks off with Meg Gardiner delivering a working class crime suspenser with "Complicated Shadows" that uses an old mine in China Lake California. You feel the writer comming off channeling Michael Mann from her Heat 2 stint and applying her trademark intesity. She uses the title in a phrase that would make Mr. Costello proud.

Mood plays a large part in many of the stories. George Pelecanos captures the denizens and history of a motel/resturaunt in "Motel Matches". Alex Segura crosses Chandler with All The Presidents Men in "I Want You". Raymond Benson taps into Costello's hard driving early punk style in "The Beat." Fusilli captures the cracked torch song vibe of "Almost Blue" in his look at a dark romance.

Many authors have different takes off the titles. Rob Olser creates a mystery among drag queens with "(The Angels Wannna Wear My) Red Shoes. Martin Waites uses "Favourite Hour" to deliver a dark comic take on a Bob Ross type of TV painter and the thoughts he surpresses. With "Watching The Detectives", Mary Ann Evans gives an emoional tale of a patrolwoman dealing with a crime scene that includes the children of the victim. Reece Hirsch's protagonist finds "Opporunity " in 1971 at the famed beach house of Marot Kidder and Jennifer Salt lived and hosted movie brats like John Milius and Spielberg.

Other authors include Peter Spiegelman, Caitlin Macpherson, Mark Billingham, Gar Anthony haywood, Peter Blauner, Ed Lin, and Gary Phillips, whose hard boiled cool makes him the perfect match for "My AIm Is True". All of these stories take on the crime fiction genre from an offbeat angle. It's the best way to pay tribute to someone who approached rock and pop in the same manner.

-review by Scott Montgomery


bottom of page