Genre: Mystery/Noir/Short Story Collecton
“Hard luck, hard knock, hot and cold blooded killers, criminals, and the people they collide with.”
Born and raised in the South Bronx and now a college teacher in Connecticut, Steven Torres is author of the Precinct Puerto Rico series (published by St. Martin’s Press) and the novel, The Concrete Maze. This is his second self-published short story collection, pulling together six short stories, previously published in various magazines. For more, visit his Amazon Authorpage.
Can noir, which to me implies characters with a non-sentimental, dog-eat-dog view of life lived on the edge, be humorous? If asked before reading Killing Ways 2, I’d have said no, with the obvious exception that the genre sometimes seems to satirize itself, with characters that take the “it is what it is” ethos to an extreme. The first two stories in this collection changed my mind, where I saw humor and were coincidentally also my favorites.
These stories, The Biography of Stoop, the Thief - Chapter One: Stoop and Clyde and The Biography of Stoop, the Thief - Chapter Three: Stoop and Elizabeth are standalone short stories focusing on Stupendous Jones (known by most as Stoop). How he got his name is a sad commentary on his origins, yet still tickled my funny bone. Stoop’s life is hard and he’s virtually on his own from a young age. What could be sad and completely dark, comes off as that, and more, not only from the subtle humor Torres uses in describing Stoop’s life, but also from the picture it paints of Stoop as a modern-day Tom Sawyer of the ‘hood. The other stories are darker, yet each is excellent, built on a solid premise, with strong characterization that quickly draws the reader into the story.
Added for Reprise Review: Killing Ways 2 by Steven Torres was a nominee in the Short Story Collections category for B&P 2013 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran July 16, 2012.
No significant issues.
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words