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Out There In The Darkness
Ed Gorman collection, vol.1
P.S. Publishing hardcover £15 / $30

review by Mario Guslandi

Author of countless stories and novels, winner of countless literary awards, Ed Gorman is usually described as a crime fiction writer. Basically, the statement is correct, because Gorman is a real master of suspense, but to pin down his work as strictly belonging to a literary genre doesn't do him justice. Mystery, crime, suspense, or horror... any label you try to stick on Gorman's stories proves to be too tight. Something similar happened to Robert Bloch - an author who has many affinities with Gorman - who, after the huge success of Psycho, was forever remembered as a horror writer while he was much more.

PS Publishing has planned a multi-volume set of books collecting Gorman's short fiction that has appeared in print so far. Out There In The Darkness is the first volume in the series, featuring a novella and 18 tales. The opening novella, Moonchasers, is the compelling, captivating portrait of two small-town teenagers facing the tragic death of a bank robber and the mobbing behaviour of a vicious cop.

In The Reason Why a class reunion proves that the past never returns nor fades away, while the noir western The Old Ways is graced by an unusually deep, compassionate look at the frailty and misery of the human condition. Gorman's pessimistic view of the world is evident also in the bleak but excellent The Ugly File, where a photographer is hired by a wealthy man to take pictures of deformed children.

Themes vary, but the quality of the tales remains absolutely superlative. Angie features the unforgettable, vivid character of an attractive girl trying hard to become 'a kept woman'; Mother Darkness depicts a social worker pursuing a peculiar mission; Mom And Dad At Home portrays a child discovering unsuspected secrets about his hard-working father. En Famille is a touching, beautiful story about families, grief and life's unpredictable tricks, and Different Kinds Of Dead is a melancholy piece with a Twilight Zone hint.

Our Kind Of Guy is a classic crime story with a bitter sense of humour, and Layover mightily entertains us by demonstrating why vengeance is not always a dish to be served cold. Death, that unfathomable mystery awaiting all of us, permeates both the pensive Turn Away and the splendid, sad Deathman, in which the lonely hangman's secret is finally disclosed.

Beauty provides an extraordinary taste of pulp fiction with a nasty ending, and Brothers is a dark story about the difficult relationship between two brothers and its terrible outcome. The title tale, Out There In The Darkness, in Gorman's own words "a spooky urban crime story," actually constitutes a bitter lesson about the darkness lurking in the depth of the human soul.

Ranging from very good to outstanding, all the stories in the present volume are first-class, defying genre labels and providing terrific storytelling, phenomenal characterisations and a perceptive, sympathetic vision of human faults. Anyone in his right mind should run and buy this book, but I warn you: after reading this first volume you will want to buy them all.
Collected Ed Gorman vol.1

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