Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: BAR SCARS by Nik Korpon

Bar ScarsNine stories of pure Baltimore noir touching on the dire, dramatic, and dangerous lives of characters all destined to fail while experience a hell of hurt on the way to ruin. Opening with THIS WILL END WELL sets the tone for the collection, there is a hopeless beauty to Korpon’s poetic depiction of noir in this story with the three characters equally untrustworthy, dangerous and seriously good to read.

A SPARROW WITH WHITE SCARS draws the reader to the back alley bar brawls where vicious and violent events are as common as the dumpsters and debris cluttered earth behind the seedy establishments. INTERSECTIONS, one of the best in the collection has a tantalising revelation that left me salivating for more – this isn’t a typical hit and run tale, make no bones about it.

There were a couple stories that didn’t jell for me, THAT PALE LIGHT IN THE WEST, a dialogue driven story that was perhaps a tad short, and GLAS BUBBLE, the last story. That said, the majority of these stories were very good. ALEX AND THE MUSIC BOX was another of my favourites where a jilted ex finds himself witness to the murder of his former girlfriend while SHE SLEEPS BENEATH CLOUDS OF EMBERS was a nice take on the escort angle by which a customer pays for a rather unique service -  masterfully conveyed confusion.

In HAYMAKER corrupt cops put the result of a boxing bout beyond doubt by taking out one of the combatants before a punch is thrown. HIS FOOTSTEPS ARE MADE OF SOOT shows the length some with go to forget when a man tries to rid the memory of his past by enlisting an unethical doctor eradicate the past from his memory – adding diversity to the bar rage fuelled collection.

Overall, BAR SCARS is a solid collection of short stories by one of my favourite authors in Nik Korpon. His Baltimore is dark, moody and evocative, the captured essence of noir.

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