Alrighty, I am now done, so I shall commence the bashing of the authors. I will say, though, that this time around the average quality is higher than usual and definitely higher than I personally expected. Oh, and I will talk a bit about me own story at the end. So, let's get to it! Oh, and yes, I will probably have spoilers here, so ye be warned.
@Dark-B - "Bravery's Dim Light"
my big disappointment for this one was that I kinda expected a sort of investigation, but after initial conversations all we have is either violence of exposition. Mention of the parliament made chuckle, because I kinda remembered the Sherlock Holmes (2009) movie with a similar thing in its plot. I have to say that the writing itself is not really good at all, there are things that are alright on chat, but do not work well in proper writing, like writing words with ALL BIG LETTERS. Well, I guess you are improving with your english writing style, but you have a really long way ahead of you.
@DarkChaplain - "The Ashbourne Revelation"
You know, I did read me some Lovecraft back in the day, and I know well about the concept of the investigators in Lovecraft universe. But this is my first time actually reading something of that particular genre/setting combination. Very nicely written, though not heavy on the crime part, I think... I guess, mostly because there's not much of an investigation, and the whole thing feels more like an event. Also, I do know that you had to cut it somewhat, and when epilogue started, I kinda had to re-read the end part of the last chapter to really get that it is actually over and how it all played out. I'd say, this is one of the top three stories of the book.
@Frey - "Heist!"
So, one advice for writing your first story - do not make it long. If you write for the first time, you are likely to not write well, and extending the story is just making readers suffer needlessly. For me, this was the hardest story to read and to get into. Feels like you have no idea what style you wanted to have there - you start at a plans/mystery stage, then go into fast-paced heist scene (heist scenes are hard to write because they do require planning and good descriptions, which is really not the case here), and in the end you just forfeit it all and go for full unrealistic action with bullets and knives flying around. Needlessly long, inconsistent writing, and bad writing form too. I barely got through the damned thing. And what is it with more and more CAPSED WORDS towards the end? It felt like you were having a fit. I believe this is the single worst story of the book.
@hellstorm901 - "The Usual Suspects"
First of all - really? You rip off that name?.. Still, the story was alright. Decent writing, though it needs a bit of polishing up in a few places, a simple enough, but proper crime setting with investigation and all. Justified setting with augmentations and protesters. And I did appreciate the fact that the story wasn't longer than it had to be. I do wonder about the ending, because it kinda makes the reader to overthink things, both about the story and about the crime scenes. Still, a decent story that one.
@--Jack-- - "Just a Matter of Time"
I have to say, this is probably the story that is the least about crime among all that we have here. There is crime, but really, it's just there as a background. Also, time-traveling is kind of an evil thing to touch for a writer, though you did a fine job making up a person imposing on a new timeline. The writing itself is very good though, and you made good work of making exposition interesting enough, which is really not an easy thing to do in a time-travelling setting. Well, in the end I do, like with many other stories like this, have to ask a question of 'how the hell did this loop started in the first place, really?', but still, it was nicely done, so it is also one of the three best stories in the book.
@johan_5179 - "Decent Folk"
And this one is probably the one that is the most about crime. Good writing, well-thought out story. This one was also somewhat hard to follow, but not because of the flaws, but because it was better thought out than I expected to read. Interesting take on things, with not much violence, but some very nice graphic images there. I also liked that the story is pretty much understandable - you see what is happening and you don't have to think about what it all means, like it was the case in some of your previous stories. Well, you did have a character who is a walking conscience there still, overthinking things at the end for us, but he doesn't interrupt the good parts, so it's all well. This is also one of the three best stories here.
@Maudia - "A Tall Tale for a Bad Time"
I guess, this is an interesting idea in its own right - trying to show cause and effect. However, there are problems. And if I would just brush off the improbability of the premise - after all, we are writing fiction here, so there is a place for exaggerations - I can't really ignore the writing itself. Style is not good at all, and the most often offence here is that you constantly switch between past and present time in your sentences. Which really makes it a pain to read. And I couldn't really get into the structure of the story. At first you give us a fiction within fiction, then the middle part is just exposition, and then it turns out that the guy was actually telling all this exposition to people who are understandably bored after hearing all that. And in the end you just try to forcibly rub the reader's face into the moral of the story which feels like something between fanfics are evil and fanfics don't really matter.
@Rinneko - "Peccatomania"
The more psychological one, that is. This one was also somewhat hard to read, in part because of the style that, like Hell's, does need some polishing at times, and in part because of the whole mind-games style of the story. Again, the exaggeration here is the idea that kindergarten kids would do such stuff... and I don't mean the act itself - kids are evil, we all know that - but the planning behind it. I did like the obsession theme, and how it was not real, but actually still real. Character grasping at the fact that she is actually sick and twisted - nice touch that was. Also, this kinda reminded me of my own story that I did for the horror anthology.
Well, that's that. We have three prime stories in the book, some that are alright, and some that are not good at all. As I said, I expected it to be worse. And I really feared that, with as many words as some stories here have, it would be a painful read, which was not the case. Well, except Frey's story. I guess, all that is left is for me to poke at my own.
@Kirn - "Slow Night"
I guess, most people already noticed that I went for a classy setting of some mid-30ies here. And there's really not that much crime going on. Well, yes, there's a bank job, there's a high-ranking member of the mafia doing his business, but it's mostly a background. I have to say, before I sat down to write this, I only knew I want it to be 30ies and my inspiration was the Nighthawks painting by Edward Hopper. So, I sat down and I just started writing, and it took me just 4 hours to finish it all, so really, there's not much effort put into this. I am somewhat happy with how it turned out though, because I managed to keep to my usual writing style even if the genre is something unfamiliar to me. In the end, I guess the strong point of the story is also its weak point. It's a light reading. It's easy enough to read, but at the same time it's not meaningful or really substantial, and there's no moral of any kind or even a message. Oh well.