New Alleys For Nothing Men: Crime and Noir Stories is one of those cases where the title makes it clear that the reading inside is not going to be of a light and fluffy nature. If one had not already picked up on the lack of a feline presence on the cover, or missed the idea that alleys are almost always trouble, and had no idea what “nothing men” meant, the fact that the subtitle referred to Crime and Noir Stories, should have made it clear that these tales won’t make you feel good about the world. For the male reader, these are not role models to live your life by though a couple of them might some highly entertaining stories to share down at the strip club between acts.
This collection of short stories by Michael Pool opens with “Waylon, On Rerun.” Waylon is stealing stuff from a house when Bernie shows at the back fence. Bernie is not all together and appears to be a bit slow on the uptake as to what is happening at Mr. Collins’ house. He might be talked into helping with the television and some other stuff if Waylon works it right.
It is a hot and humid night as Karl Joyce drinks and smokes. Living in the trailer across from his house in “Tote The Note” is hard. He is out in the trailer for good reason. IRS auditor Timothy Sorren is not helping matters at all and neither is his wife, Claudia.
It is hard to drive down a snowy street with one hand holding an old t-shirt over the stab wound in your stomach, but that is what Harman is dealing with in “Two Feet Deep.” That and the body of Ray Miller in the back end of the old Subaru wagon. Ray should have stayed at Bingo like he normally did. In addition to dealing with his stomach wound, Harman has a major problem. How do you get rid of a body when the ground has been frozen for months and will be frozen for months to come?
The screams at night are the hardest to deal with in “Edict From Nowhere” 35 years inside means our narrator has seen a lot in prison and has some stories to tell.
Manny owns Thompson’s on Twelve Street. He has a soft spot for his fellow ex-cons looking for a better life so he hired Travis to be a meat cutter. Travis hates the job in “Doo-Doo The Biker Boyee.” He hated the job until Miss Lynn came in the neighborhood bodega to place an order.
Standing at the grave, Terrance barely remembers his grandmother Irma. He will be joining her soon. He has some things to do first in “Eye Of The Hurricane.”
Franklin has found a lot of things in returned formal wear, but this is a totally new deal in “Franklin And The Finger.” How do you explain it to the police? What do you do if a customer walks in while are holding a severed finger? People might get the wrong idea about you.
Mandy needs Kate’s help in “An Art Show Mating Call’ and for very good reason. Timothy Briggs is causing trouble again.
The very air seems to be on fire from the noon sun in “Life Of A Salesman.” Our narrator, Marv, is not very good at selling cars. The customer that just showed up on the lot appears to be far more trouble than he is worth.
A dealership is a part of the next story titled “Queen Of The Rotten.” At least Helga is still working at the strip club even if he gets there two hours later than normal. Waldo’s might be your typical strip club, but what sets it apart is the magnificent Helga.
Ralston likes to shoot out car windows using his pellet gun. Nobody is supposed to get hurt. Until it happens in “Two Pulled From The Waters of Lake Genevieve.”
Mike Treadwell had a very distinctive plan for when he got out of prison. It is finally going to happen as the “Midnight at the San Fransican” begins. It has been ten years, but the forced wait has been worth it.
As made very clear by the book title, these short stories are not happy in tone or substance. New Alleys For Nothing Men: Crime and Noir Stories contains tales of men pushed to the breaking point. Some would argue these men made the choices that ultimately led to their respective fates. Others would argue that these men were pawns in an elaborate chess game orchestrated by fate and she is one very cruel mistress. The tales in New Alleys For Nothing Men: Crime and Noir Stories are good ones.
New Alleys For Nothing Men: Crime and Noir Stories
Short Stack Books
eBook (also available in print format)
Digital ARC supplied by the author months ago in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2018