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The Night of the Flood by E.A. Aymar and Sarah M. Chen

ea aymar sarah m chenThe Night of the Flood (Down & Out Books), edited by E.A. Aymar and Sarah M. Chen, is the second antholgoy masquerading as a novel in as many weeks, the other being Culprits: The Heist Was Just the Beginning (Polis Books), edited by Richard Brewer and Gary Phillips (review). Is there a name for these things like novology or anthovel? Probably not and that might be a good thing given my examples.

Aymar and Chen have been on a publicity tear over the last few weeks and so you probably already know what’s going on. If you don’t, here is Chen explaining the novel’s premise to Dana King:

It’s a novel-in-stories told from fourteen different perspectives that centers around one night of chaos in Everton, a small fictional Pennsylvania town. It all begins when the first female in modern times is executed in Pennsylvania. This sets off a group of passionate female activists to blow up the town’s dam in protest. What follows is an opportunity for crooks and killers to wreak havoc on the town while with some folks, it’s all about survival.

Aymar and Chen have gotten a slew of crime writers to participate Rob Brunet, Angel Luis Colón, Hilary Davidson, Mark Edwards, Gwen Florio, Elizabeth Heiter, J.J. Hensley, Jennifer Hillier, Shannon Kirk, Jenny Milchman, Alan Orloff, and Wendy Tyson. There were quite a few stories that stood out for me like Hensley’s “The Copy Man”, Mark Edwards’ “The Curse”, Wendy Tyson’s “Anything Worth Saving”, and Shannon Kirk’s “Carter Hank McKater Takes a Sedative at One in the A.M.” Heck, even Angel Luis Colón’s Blacky Jaguar makes an appearance. Some of the stories were intricately interconnected and it took me a minute or two to figure out what was going on, but that could just be me. The Night of the Flood is a fun experiment with some fantastic storytelling and none of the writers phoned it in which is high praise for an anthology.

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Cleaning Up Finn by Sarah M. Chen

Cleaning Up Finn by Sarah M ChenFinn Roose likens himself as a player as he hits on female customers of a chain restaurant that he manages in Sarah M. Chen‘s Cleaning Up Finn (All Due Respect Books). Chen does not paint an appetizing picture of Finn’s despicableness and even though he is somewhat a likeable loser, he thinks much more of himself.

Finn’s latest target is Rhonda Havemeyer aka Ronnie.

Finn flashed his most charming smile. Oh boy, a college student. How he did love the college students. They were at that ideal age, the perfect combination of naïveté and bold self-assurance. Eager to try anything.

The only catch was, after their date, she disappears and the police suspected foul play. Chen’s novel retraces Finn’s last five days as he tries to figure out what happened. Cleaning Up Finn also looks at Finn’s past on how he got to be managing a restaurant, how he went to jail, and his strained relationship with his best friend from high school. Finn isn’t someone you’d want to bring home to meet Mom and Dad; shit, he isn’t even someone you would want to have a few beers with. But to Chen’s credit, she creates a character that most would despise, you do find yourself rooting for him now and then.