Torn and Frayed, by David Cranmer . Drifter Detective Series, Number 7. Beat to a Pulp Publishers.
Torn and Frayed is the seventh offering in Beat to a Pulp’s Drifter Detective series. It’s a novella length piece. This is the first in the series written by Cranmer. Previous installments have been written by Garnett Elliott: 1. The Drifter Detective, 2. Hell Up in Houston, 3. The Girls of Bunker Pines, by Wayne D. Dundee, 4. Wide Spot in the Road, Elliott again 5. Dinero Del Mar, and by Alec Cizak, 6. Between Juarez and El Paso.
The main character in this series is Jack Laramie, who is the grandson of Legendary US marshal Cash Laramie, created by Edward Grainger. Jack Laramie is a WWII vet who roams post WWII Texas in a rickety DeSoto with a horse trailer hitched on the back. He is an occasional PI. Jack Laramie has many of the characteristics of his grandfather, although perhaps a bit less of a total bad ass. He takes on a case, gets into a mess, and somehow extricates himself, although it is seldom pretty. Along the way, he gets beat on and does some beating back, and the series seldom ends with a clear cut: “good guys win” scenario.
Torn and Frayed follows this general pattern. Jack decides to take a break from the road and PI work and takes a job as a ranch hand. Turns out the rancher has a past that is coming back to haunt him, most specifically in the form of a daughter who is not what her father thinks she is. A lot of unpleasant history gets revealed along the way.
Like most in the Drifter Detective series, Torn and Frayed does not tie the story up in a nice pretty package at the end. There’s messiness and ugliness and it’s hard to say that anyone really wins. They survive, at a cost. But this series has real sense of realism running through it and Torn and Frayed fits well into this pattern. I much enjoyed it. There is, in addition, a bonus story at the end, “Missing,” which features Cash Laramie himself.
HWA Poetry Showcase, Volume II, Edited by Peter Adam Salomon, Published by Horror Writers Association.
This is a wonderful collection of dark poetry. It also contains tributes to two respected members of HWA who have passed away recently. The work begins with a tribute to Rocky Wood, long-term president of HWA. I didn't know him but have heard many great things about him. The work ends with a tribute to Tom Piccirilli, and with one of Tom's fine poems, "Protected," which was the last poem he completed before his death. I knew and respected Tom through his work.
The poems here are meaty and all of high quality, ranging from the creepy, to the gory, to the thoughtful, to the humorous. There are too many really good ones to mention individually. Some really nice efforts from the likes of Bruce Boston, Marge Simon, Kathryn Ptacek, and Corrine De Winter. Some others that particularly moved me were: The Cry of Autumn Stars by Mark Fuller Dillon, Fiend by Annie Neugebauer, Into Old Mill Creek by Ian A. Patton, The Tune by Lance Davis, Midnight at the Hub City Cafe by Lynette Mejia, and The Man Who Disappears by Robert Perez. I also have a poem in this collection, called R.O.A.D, which stands for The River of Angel’s Dreaming. I was very happy to be included in this collection.