Nightshadows

By William F. Nolan

Darkwood Press

ISBN: 0-9789078-4-1

$17.99; December, 2007

Nightshadows is William Nolan’s newest collection of short fiction – most of it dating from the last seven years. A diverse collection of Horror, Science Fiction and Mystery/Suspense tales – it’s a good example of his writing for the newcomer and holds up well against past collections for the longtime fan.

Nolan takes on Werewolves (“Wolf Song”), Vampires (“An Unlucky Encounter” & “On Becoming Immortal”), Demons (“Dark Return”), Aliens (“Scotch On the Rocks” & “The Alien”), Jack The Ripper (“Ripper!”), Superheroes (“The Clown’s Daughter”), James Dean (“De Pompa”), and even Edgar Allen Poe (“The Tragic Narrative of Arthur Pym”). Certainly quite a variety.

The strongest of the stories might well be his Crime/Suspense outings. “Silk and Fire” is a great pulp/private eye tale in the tradition of Hammett and Spillaine. You can almost picture the lurid Gold Medal type cover that should accompany it. “Blood Sky” is a disturbing look into the mind of a serial killer who tries to go straight . “De Pompa” (which was originally a screenplay written for William Friedkin) is a love-letter to James Dean and an example of how you can take the hero-worship a bit too far. “The Ex” is a subtle crime tale that warns against an ex-spouse’s vindictive possibilities. All four stories definitely rank with his best work.

Nolan also shows his sense of humor in the Sam Spade story “Hopping For Abe”, which depicts a funny, foul-mouthed version of one of our favorite presidents. “Killing Charlie” is a Blackly humorous murder tale that would fit right into Robert Bloch’s cannon.

“In Real Life” is probably my favorite tale out of the bunch, and probably the best out of an overly solid collection. A bit of an experiment in the short story form, the narrative shifts between perspectives and reality to reveal a telling statement on Hollywood.

So I definitely recommend this collection and one thing that’s all the more impressive to me is that Bill Nolan is still writing. At a time when many writers his age have fizzled out and rest on past laurels, he’s not content to do that. These are all fairly recent stories, and as the new story in this issue of DD you are holding can attest to, he’s still knocking out fine examples of solid craftsmanship. Here’s hoping for many more years of William F. Nolan stories!

– Reviewed by James R. Beach

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~ by darkdiscoveries on March 15, 2009.

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