Cold-Blooded: Killer Nashville Noir

By Faktorovich, Anna | Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Fall 2015 | Go to article overview

Cold-Blooded: Killer Nashville Noir


Faktorovich, Anna, Pennsylvania Literary Journal


Clay Stafford, Ed. Cold-Blooded: Killer Nashville Noir. New York: Diversion Books, October 2015.

The Introduction explains that this collection of short stories is the first of its kind for the Killer Nashville "Round Table" network of writers. The collective is primarily for Nashville mystery writers, but they have expanded beyond these borders in the years since their founding. The organization features a conference, literary awards, meetups, and operates a magazine. Since they've been around for over a decade, it's almost odd that this is their first collection or joint publication outside their magazine. Their join sales and award-winning statistics are very impressive, and the collection pulls in works by at least three writers of general interest. The editor, Clay Stafford, is the founder of Killer Nashville. Killer Nashville is actually only one subsidiary under the umbrella of American Blackguard Inc., for which Stafford is the CEO, and which has been around since 1978, when Clay was only 16. Stafford has also sold over "1.5 million hardcover copies of his children's adaptations," a significant achievement considering how busy he is between all of the subsidiaries he is supervising. This is an interesting example of how a writer has to dabble in publishing and business to reach a significant height without the help of agents or other handouts from publishing insiders.

Stafford put his own story, "Savage Gulf," at the back of the collection. This story is worthy of its prime position. It's very readable and relatable. Jack comes to a reunion and he is reflecting about the success and failures of his friends, as he is contemplating the murder of his wife and high school sweetheart, right after the event. There is a twist though, and the murderer ends up as the victim in the end. Since there is surprise, interesting dialogue and the scene is fully painted, this is an interesting little mystery story.

But, to return to the actual collection at-hand. The two other bestselling authors of note included in the collection are Jeffery Deaver, who also served as the lyricist for an album called XO that was also released from Blackguard. Deaver's story in the collection, "Repressed" begins as slowly as most pop novels that usually need 400 pages to get to the final resolution. But, because it's a short story, things heat up in its few pages, and are very readable. …

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