Monday, April 5, 2010
Review: Simon Wood's "Working Stiffs"
As a fan of those old "Alfred Hitchock" anthologies, I think author Simon Wood would fit right in to that old-school pulp style, though his literary standards are high.
I've read some of Wood's short work in various magazines and anthologies but to have the Wood worldview collected under one umbrella gives a keen glimpse into the coldly brilliant mind's eye of the author. The collection Working Stiffs shows Wood in all his inglorious splendor. The novella "The Fall Guy" is representative of Wood's skill at taking what is seemingly a normal man in almost-normal circumstances, acting out of altruistic motives, before basic human motivations twist the knife and bring out the beast that hides in all of us. What's scary is how thin that veneer seems to be, and Wood's work leaves me unsettled about how easily I might join the ranks of the criminal-minded. Wood's character Todd is set off on an absolutely Hitchcockian spiral of events building from the smallest of incidents--a bumped fender--into a complex web of intrigue and action.
Wood can make the double-cross seem like the smart choice, and has the uncanny ability to get you pulling for manipulative, immoral, and utterly human characters. Wood is blazing a path out of the dark alleys of the heart and into the literary spotlight. Six more short stories, including an Anthony Award winner, round out this collection. Highly recommended.