Poor Malmon! Dan Malmon is a cross between Kenny from South Park and Phil in Groundhog Day. He dies somehow every time. 30 creative crime fiction writers had a lot of fun chalking the outline around Mr. Malmon. You know you’re in for a good read when you laugh when you shouldn’t and you’re just waiting to see how Dan will meet his demise. Spoiler Alert: Dan Malmon dies, duh. Oh, Dan’s wife Kate frequents the area around the yellow Crime Scene tape.
Dan catches no breaks. Everyone wants him dead for a reason. Two guys argue like wise guys from Goodfellas about how to best kill Dan (Eric Beetner). Dan ends up in a Marvel Comics universe in Josh Stallings’s story, which includes a cameo from crime writer Ms. Christa Faust. In another story that is as surreal as a Coen Brothers movie, our mensch Dan is the unintended victim of the Pogo Stick serial killer (Hilary Davidson). Watch out for Kit Kats! If you have ever suffered in line at Starbucks and heard an absurd order when all you wanted was a simple coffee, you’ll achieve sweet release with Ed Kurtz’s “Nebbish.” Dan the schmuck. Like a Trainspotting or In Bruges dark comic vibe next time Malmon appears on the slab? Angel Luis Colón will introduce you to Blacky Jaguar. Will he or won’t he dodge his fate in Sarah Chen’s “Masterpiece”? We know the answer. Dan is that guy with the red stapler in Office Space in Holly West’s “Money for Nothing.” He gets lucky before he’s unlucky. Want to practice your Spanglish chops before tackling Gabino Iglesias’ Zero Saints, then turn the page with Hector Acosta’s “Rojo Muerte.” Danny Gardner’s “Straight Fire” will tell what it feels like to be the only black guy in Wonderbread Wonderland with a hot new book (he’s the author of A Negro And An Offay), while hankering for an Old Fashioned and ribs until Malmon enters the picture. Dan is the shlimazel who tries to order a pastrami in Thomas Pluck’s “Russian Roulette.”
There is some profanity. All I can say is that 1) a lot of people love this Dan Malmon, even if they want to kill him on the page, and 2) this is a charity anthology that directs proceeds from sales to the National MS Society. I’m also convinced Malmon loves Kit Kats. Last point: the publisher Down & Out Books must believe in keeping it in the family because it’s fast becoming a reputable stable for up and coming talent. Many of these authors have been nominated or won prestigious awards. The anthology concludes with three previews of works from Jack Getze, J.J. Hensley, and Trey R. Baker. They don’t kill Malmon.