Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Crime Hits Home - S. J. Rozan (Editor and Contributor)


Crime Hits Home
is a nice collection of crime related short stories exploring the most jarring type of crime imaginable, those that invade a victim’s most personal space: the home. Keep in mind that, as S. J. Rozan points out in her introduction to Crime Hits Home, “home” does not mean the same thing to everyone. Some people, Rozan says, are living in the home they want to spend the rest of their lives in, others hate where they are, and still others are desperate to return to the place they never should have left in the first place. But what all of these homes have in common is that we feel safest when we are there. So what happens when those safe spaces are violated in the worst ways imaginable?


Twenty authors, including Rozan, give their take on how that feels to the victim and what happens next. Mystery fans, of course, will recognize names like Sara Paretsky and Walter Mosley among the twenty, but some of the best stories in the book come from authors with whose work I am less familiar. 


Among my favorites are “Oyster Creek,” a story by Neil S. Plakey in which a man comes home after his mother has been killed on the roadway in a tragic hit and run accident. After what he learns about the accident and who was behind the wheel, the young man faces a decision that there is no coming back from. 


I enjoyed Ellen Hart’s “Calling Mr. Smith” because it is so easy to imagine what a movie director like Alfred Hitchcock could do with a plot like this one in which a woman mouths off in a bar one night that she would be better off without her elderly mother. Was the wrong person perhaps listening? 


Then there’s G. Miki Hayden’s story, “Forever Unconquered,” about a Seminole Indian family whose home turf in swampy Florida is invaded by drug dealers who make the mistake of hijacking the wrong man’s airboat. Let’s just say that it’s not a mistake they are going to make twice.


What is my favorite story of them all is also the shortest in the book: S. J.  Rozan’s “Playing for Keeps.” This is a deceptively simple story about a little girl who not only survived a German concentration camp but made sure that her younger brother did the same. Now, the children are living in the US where the girl is being mocked and bullied by a boy because of her accent and religion. If he only knew who he was picking on…


Bottom Line: The stories in Crime Hits Home, despite the theme common to them all, are very different from one another. They were, however, all chosen for the collection because of how clearly they address that theme: nothing is worse, and no one feels more cornered, than when a criminal dares invade a person’s home space, be that a physical home or a place you live in only in your mind. Bad things can happen to bad people when they push their intended victims too far — and in Crime Hits Home, those things do happen. 


S. J. Rozan, editor & contributor

Crime Hits Home is schedule for an April 19, 2022 publication by Harlequin Trade Publishing's Hanover Press. Review copy was provided by publisher. 

14 comments:

  1. You always find the most interesting short story collections!

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    1. I really like the collections that pull together stories from different authors sharing a common theme like this one did. Rozan also helped put together a collection of crime stories for Akashic books...part of their "noir" series.

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  2. This short story book has an interesting theme. I will be sure to get it when it comes out. With anthologies like this they don't seem to be available at better prices for a long time. so I won't wait for that.

    I am glad you liked the S. J. Rozan story. I have a book that collects some of her short stories and I have found some of her stories in other anthologies.

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    1. The Rozan story is one that will stick with me even though it is probably the least violent story in the whole book...it's also the last story in the collection. It was fun to see how 20 different authors used the general theme of the book but still managed to write very different stories.

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  3. This is a really interesting sounding collection. I wasn't familiar with it. Thanks Sam.

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    1. It will be out in mid-April, Diane. I kind of jumped the gun on my review, I suppose, and I hope that doesn't disappoint the publisher.

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  4. Well, those are some fascinating tidbits from this collection. I think you found another winner.

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    1. I wasn't sure at first, Dorothy, because all of my favorite stories appear deep into the book, but it turned out to be a fun collection, overall.

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  5. I'll be looking for this one, Sam. Thanks for the review.

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    1. I hope you enjoy some of the stories in it, Cathy. As usual, the compilation introduced me to some new writers I now want to learn more about.

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  6. Hi Sam, thanks for introducing us to this book and short story collections with a theme make for very enjoyable reading. Plus it's a way to be introduced to so many writers that I have been meaning to try out and now is my chance!

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    1. I really came to like this collection's theme, Kathy, because it is always a special kind of fun to see the bad guy have the tables turned on him...and that's what usually happens in these stories.

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  7. I haven't heard of the majority of the contributing authors, but I'm glad it's an enjoyable collection. I've never had my home invaded (thank goodness); I can only imagine what a horrible experience that would be. I'd never feel safe in my safe place again!

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    1. The stories are a definite reminder of the differences between a "home" invasion and a random crime on the street experience. I think some of these "victims" were surprised at what they were capable of.

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