Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Witnesses for the Dead

by Scott Adlerberg

Today is release day for a short story anthology I'm happy to be part of. It's called Witnesses for the Dead, from Soho Crime, and it's been edited by the estimable Gary Phillips and Gar Anthony Haywood.  

To paraphrase from what the book jacket says, the all-original stories in this collection are inspired by true events and set in motion by the act of witnessing. Darnella Frazier, the young woman who recorded George Floyd's death, serves as an inspiration, and to quote from the editors' introduction: "These tales are indeed about people driven, to lesser and greater degrees, to do the right thing, though what is 'right' in some cases is purely subjective...There are characters populating these pages who, rather than simply observing a crime, take the initiative to see that the guilty are punished and the victims receive justice. In some stories, our 'heroes' are drawn into perilous situations against their will, and must fight to survive just to ensure what they've witnessed will matter."

The roster of contributors is a standout one: Cara Black, Christopher Chambers, Sarah M. Chen, Aaron Philip Clark, Teresa Dovalpage, Tod Goldberg, Gar Anthony Haywood, Darrell James, Richie Narvaez, Gary Phillips, SJ Rozan, Alex Segura, Pamela Samuels Young.

And the subject matter of the stories is quite varied: In "Spiders and Fly", Gary Phillips writes about police corruption. Richie Narvaez's "The Gardener of Roses" sees a Puertorriquena college student on the run from the FBI for her accidental involvement in a "terrorist" plot.  Alex Segura writes a story called "Post-Game" about the early days of his PI character, Pete Fernandez. The protagonist of Sarah M. Chen's "A Family Matter" investigates the murder of a stranger, leading her to question the political structure of Taiwan entirely. Other stories feature a brothel, the film industry, immigrant detention centers at the Mexico-US border, and World War II-torn France. 

My story, "The Killing at Joshua Lake", takes place during the Covid-19 pandemic, and follows a man who leaves the locked-down New York City area to go squat for a while in the country at an old abandoned bungalow colony. While there, he witnesses something that leads him to get entangled with and endangered by a very rich and fractious family. In real life, I spent many a childhood summer at a bungalow colony in upstate New York, and it was a lot of fun to write a somewhat wry crime tale about one of these places long after the guests have gone but when deadly squabbles over the valuable land, and how that land should be used, have become a thing.

Witnesses for the Dead is a collection well worth taking a look at, and all royalties from it will be donated to the Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops.  

You can find it at local bookstores and also, of course, here: 

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