Last year, to honor Ray Bradbury’s 100th birthday, Hard Case Crime decided to publish a new collection of his short stories. Killer, Come Back to Me is unique, as it features his crime stories, something you may not expect from Bradbury if you are only familiar with his most famous books.
Killer, Come Back to Me is really a fabulous collection.
The book opens with an excellent introduction by Jonathan R. Eller, who sheds light on Ray Bradbury’s first genre.
Nowadays, we mostly associate Bradbury with science-fiction.
So I was very surprised to read that these “[sinister tales] are as important to the first twenty years of his career –his most prolific decades as a story writer– as the fantasy and science fiction that he brought into the literary mainstream. In fact, his special off-trail brand of crime fiction found wide popularity in the detective pulps while he was still developing the mastery of science fiction.”
This also explains why the publisher chose the pulp genre for the cover of the book!
The choice of the twenty short stories presented here is brilliant, as they gradually show Bradbury’s transition from noir and crime fiction to sci-fi, with an in between period where he showed to be “a masterful explorer of the dark fantastic”, where he enjoyed exploring “darker regions of the human mind”. Most of these stories were written in the 1950s and 1960s.
Bradbury uses an impressive variety in his style.
Here is for instance from I’m Not So Dumb!:
… said Jamie MacHugh, sweat gobbering out his head like water from them fancy park sprinkling systems in the concrete skulls of them pretty naked women statues.
And from Where Everything Ends:
A wind raked away the fog-clouds for a moment, like pale leaves on a big dark lawn, to let stars come through like funny far away flowers coming in bud.”
All the stories are very imaginative and broad in their scope, one including a ventriloquist, another the theme of time travel.
They are told from various points of view, including some by children struggling to be believed by adults who reject what they report as being part of their imagination, like in The Trunk Lady.
Besides that one, I particularly enjoyed Killer, Come Back to Me!, and The Whole Town’s Sleeping –both quite spooky and noir), The Town Where No One Got Off (that would make a great movie!). Also The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl and The Small Assassin.
At the end of the collection is included an introduction Bradbury wrote many years ago, where he talks about his desire to improve as a writer, and his method to do so: he set himself a goal to write one story a week for the rest of his life (with a different draft of the same story each day Monday through Friday, and then the final version on Saturday), thinking that through quantity would come quality.
We can definitely certify it worked!
VERDICT: Brilliant collection to expand your horizon on a classic author. There’s so much more than science-fiction with Ray Bradbury!
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
Or any other great crime classics?
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In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received this ebook free of charge through Edelweiss Plus, for review. I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.