Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Long December - by Richard Chizmar

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Thirty-four short stories and the title novella combine to make a worthwhile collection for any reader who enjoys good speculative fiction.  The only reason for giving Richard's career spanning compendium four stars is the number of stories I felt were incomplete.  Those stories were all compelling and entertaining right up until the final page where I would feel a bit let down or disappointed.

The collection begins with Blood Brothers - Even after all of the years and circumstances which have kept them apart, the Foster brothers still have a special bond, one that would be seemingly unbreakable.  My favorite line in the story was and the cubs were gonna in the goddamn world series.  A premonition perhaps?

The Man With the X-Ray Eyes about one man's quest to save the world from aliens is a prime example of a great story that ended too soon.  It could have been so much more.

Don't get me wrong, there were many wonderful stories to be found in this book.  One such tale was Ditch Treasures.  You wouldn't believe the things found by road crews mowing the median stips along the Maryland stretch of I-95.

The Lake is Life is a wonderfully twisted little tale of the Solomon Island slasher.  According to legend, there was once a drifter who had gone crazy and started kidnapping local girls and bringing them here to the island.  Once he had them trapped here, he would let them go and then hunt them down in a sadistic game of cat and mouse, ultimately capturing them and slicing them to pieces with a hunting knife.

Brothers (written with Ed Goman) was one of my favorites, as was Cemetery Dance, one of Richard's earliest shorts and astory which would become the name of both his horror magazine and small press.

A Crime of Passion was the best story in the book.  Both believable and frightening. There's also a very dark Christmas tale called A Season of Giving.

I found The Poetry of Life to be powerful and bleak.  The darkness in this tale just sort of snuck up on me.

And then there's A Long December, a novella which by itself is worth the purchase price. The long-time neighbor and good friend of Robert Howard is found to be a serial killer, but there is so much more to the truth.

Despite my minor complaints A Long December is a collection I can easily recommend.

Originally published as a signed, limited edition hardcover from Subterranean Press, A Long December is now avilable in both trade paperback and e-book formats through

From the author's bio - Richard Chizmar edits anthologies, writes fiction, produces films, writes screenplays, and teaches writing.

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