CITIES OF NIGHT by Philip Nutman (2010 Chizine Publications / 238 pp. / tp)
Bookended by a short & sweet 2-part apocalyptic thriller, this collection of ten stories by Philip Nutman (author of my all-time favorite zombie novel, WET WORK) features 7 reprints and 3 originals, each different from the other.
After the opening section of 'Unearthly Powers,' 'Full Throttle' is a nihilistic speed-ball of a tale that will surely get your blood pumping, while "Pavlov's Wristwatch' is a creepy (and humorous) ode to Peter Pan. If you're a film fan, 'Churches of Desire' will most likely strike a chord you didn't know you had.
'Memories of Lydia, Leaving' is a dark study of grief and suicide, while 'Blackpool Rock' was one of the more interesting (and funny) Elvis-impersonator tales I've read in quite some time. 'Ponce De Leone Avenue' visits a similar theme as 'Lydia,' and the older music-fan-confronts-younger-music-fan scene is priceless.
My favorite here is 'Still Life with Peckerwood,' a ghost story told from the point of view of a painting (this one was co-written with Anya Martin for an "Ultimate Haunted House" anthology). 'Love Sells the Proud Heart's Citadel to Fate' is a pre-Van Helsing story set in 1861. It's a traditional horror tale featuring missing children, a demonic cult and one wicked monster. 'A Mother Cries at Midnight' is pulled from HELLBOY: ODD JOBS, so if you're a fan of the red-skined demon you'll probably enjoy Nutman's take on him.
While a couple of stories here may be for aquired tastes, CITIES OF NIGHT is a solid collection and a fine introduction for those not familiar with the author. Slick cover design by Erik Mohr.