The Crime Studio
by Steve Aylett
Category: Fiction / Crime
156 pages; ISBN: 1568581483
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
This is a group of interconnected short stories that introduce the denizens of a town called Beerlight. 'Tis a very strange place.
Tony Endless had gotten a job working for a local pest exterminator. On his first job, he took out the firearms carried by everyone in Beerlight and wiped out the dog, cat and aquarium in the house, not realizing that they were not the pests in question. Word got around town, and now Tony has a business breaking into houses at night, quietly removing pets that the owners want gone, and, just as quietly, giving them to owners that do want them.
Ben Stalkeye and chance don't go together very well. The strangest and most unlikely things would happen, only on the condition that he didn't want them to happen. This presented problems for his criminal career. Joe Solitary loved the feeling that came from being the subject of false accusation and did everything possible to be arrested and jailed for crimes in which he was not involved at all. He would go to the police station all the time and confess to anything and everything.
In a place where paranoia is a part of daily life, Carl Overchoke had gone back for seconds and thirds. One day, he is told that "they" are on to him. Carl is an average guy who suddenly feels very important. He starts acting more self-assured, almost like a big shot, seeing spies everywhere, and eventually does gain the notice of the police. Jesse Downtime didn't know how to rob anyone, so he experimented with smaller and smaller thefts. He tore the stalk from an apple at the local deli. He broke into the state zoo at night to steal an ant, then return it to the authorities. He would bump into people on the street, acquiring dozens of their atoms without suspicion. After his release, his thievery was refined to such a point that it occurred only in his mind.
Think Raymond Chandler on hallucinogenic drugs when reading these stories. They are short, postmodern, surreal and well worth reading.