(Reviewed by JD Jung)
“‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas and Jack Frost was pissed.”
That’s the intro to my favorite story, “The Night Before the Night Before Christmas” in Busted Valentines and Other Dark Delights. But what does that holiday story have to do with Valentines? Let’s just say that all of these thirteen gritty, dark, short stories have a cheating/devious lover or feature photographer/investigator/extortionist/hustler, Frank Valentine.
What other elements do these stories share? All of them include the desperate and degenerate or those who live on the fringes of society. You’ll meet loners, drinkers, hookers, strippers, mobsters and crooners. There are musicians and card sharks. Let’s not forget women who fall for Elvis impersonators and of course our Santa character. The stories take place in seedy locations from New York City to Memphis to Las Vegas.
Though some of the stories are predictable, it’s the rhythmic, crisp dialogue and graphic story-telling that seduces the reader.
It’s actually difficult to pick a favorite piece from this 168 page compilation. From the eerie “Neon Boneyard” and the revengeful “State of Grace” to the the off-beat “Mystery Train” and the big twist in “Busted Valentine” , they’re all twisted in a sordid way.
Most of all, this book is fun. If you’re looking for something deep and thought-provoking, pass on this gem. However, if you’re in desperate need of a quick escape from the stress of work or daily life, Busted Valentines and Other Dark Delights is the perfect diversion.