Over at Hardboiled Wonderland, Jedidiah Ayres put together a wonderful idea to promote St. Louis’ Noir at the Bar on Sunday, March 26th. All he asked for is a new review of a book by one of over 70 writers of fiction and he would send out to five reviewers a book from his overcrowded shelves.
This spurred me to finally purchase Ayres’ Peckerwood (Broken River Books) but I guessed that Ayres would have people write about other authors rather than himself. Whether I receive a book or not is of no importance. Helping someone promote other writers’ work is something I value greatly.
So I ended up picking Jake Hinkson for the sole reason is that he is why I discovered so many of the great crime writers that Ayres’ listed in his blog post and that I have reviewed here. Last summer I read Hinkson’s Hell of Church Street (280 Steps) (review) which I found to be fucking incredible, maybe even mind-blowing. I quickly looked at Hinkson’s bibliography and, through various connections, discovered publishers like All Due Respect Books, Down & Out Books, and 280 Steps. My reading has not been the same since. Thanks, Jake.
Hinkson’s The Deepening Shade (All Due Respect) is a collection of short stories of normal people being caught up in the irregular aspects and darkness of life. The first story “Maker’s and Coke”, about a cop drinking alone on the job, alerts the reader that Hinkson’s collection is going to be anything other than usual. “The Theologians” tells the story of two burglars who rob homes of the recently deceased and subsequently get into an argument about God.
There is a strain of religion that runs through Hinkson’s writing — many times God and/or Jesus are characters within his work. Given that there are large swaths of the United States where people are deeply religious, I find it surprising that religion does not play a bigger part in US crime fiction rather than the many being suprised by Hinkson’s sometimes religious bent.
Hinkson’s The Deepening Shade is a collection of day to day life stories that are overcast with crime, death, love, hate, and God. Stories like “The Girl From Yesterday”, “The Serpent Box”, and “Our Violence” will be read over and over by me not only as instructions on how to craft a story, but in appreciation of their sheer dark beauty.