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Short story anthologies inspired by a musician's songbook have become their own subgenre . They allow writers to pay tribute and the reader gets the added piece of entertainment to see what they incorporated from the song each writer chose. Michel Lee Garret and T. Fox Dunham deliver the latest as both editors and contributors with Burning Down The House:: Crime Fiction Incited by the Songs of The Talking Heads.

It hits you up front with the first story, "Road To Nowhere" by D.F. Hannah. There is a Springsteen vibe in it as well with it's tale of a young musician trying to escape the dying town his corrupt cop father presides in. His desperate attempt to get a bass back from a pawnshop for what he thinks could be his trio's big break leads to one bad move after another, as well a heartbreaking final paragraph.

At least half of the dozen stories deal with "ordinary" people who take a step into darkness, instead of cops and criminals. Libby Cudmore gives us another look at desperate escape with "Ruby Dear". This time it's about a pregnant teen prostitute and the daughter of the woman who owns the sketchy motel she works out of. Lucas Franki's "Electric Guitar" is a fun take on a musician's problem with the rockstar who bashes said instrument on stage. Garret deals with addiction in "Burning Down The House".

A couple of stories portray women against boorish men they work with. In "Give Me Back My Name", Bobby Mathews heroine turns the tables on a harassing officemate. A magician's assistant plays one hell of a trick on her domineering boyfreind/boss in "Girlfreind Is Better".

Two stories are set in different times. Jessica Laine's "Slippery People" has a 1890s con man meeting his match in a mysterious widow. P.D. Cacek uses "Life During Wartime" to depict a believable fascist U.S. in the near future where an elderly woman aims for a modicum of justice.

There are stories that play to the traditions of hard boiled and noir characters. Hard boiled craftsman Rob Peirce follows a thug looking for work to pay off other thugs in "Found A Job". KImberly Godwin's "Crosseyed and Painless" looks at a cop hanging by a thread. Dunham picked the classic "This Must Be The Place" for a poignant tale of junkie lovers ripping off their dealer.

The last story uses "Once In A Lifetime" to create a unique work. Gregory Galloway follows a family committing crimes at a wedding of one of their own. The author crosses noir, satire, and caper with touch of gothic.

All of these stories have an idiosyncratic take on the crime fiction and apply a personal view. All profits go to fighting global warming. David, Chris, Tina, and Jerry should feel honored.


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