I'm not usually a fan of noir, but I occasionally interrupt my reading habits with an uncharacteristic book. I was also interested in the rural settings of a number of these stories. You don't see rural noir anywhere near as often as urban noir, but I have read it. The most notable examples were by the extraordinary Appalachian writer, Daniel Woodrell. The best of Shooting Creek and Other Stories by Scott Loring Sanders did remind me of Woodrell. That's why I was glad to obtain a review copy from publicist Wiley Saicheck in return for this honest review.
As is typical with anthologies, I didn't love every story I read in this collection. I think that Scott Loring Sanders has a gift for very real characters and the re-creation of settings, but there were stories that felt a bit too unresolved, and others that seemed rather predictable to me.
My personal favorite that really caused me to sit up and take notice was "Jim Limey's Confession". This story takes place in the rural South during the 1920's. Jim Limey is an African American man who was faced with the necessity of taking over his father's business in his early teens. These were terrible times for African Americans as I've learned from other historical fiction. So it shouldn't surprise any readers that the story deals with the impact of racism. Racist attitudes place Jim Limey in a position where he had to choose between justice and survival. This is a memorable story with a great deal of dramatic intensity.
I was also moved by the family tragedy depicted in the title story, "Shooting Creek". I felt sad for how destiny altered the life paths of these characters beyond recognition. Yet it starts off with a tranquil scene of a ten year old boy snapping beans on the porch with his mother. It's the contrast between that scene and the events that follow it that transfixes readers and engages their emotions.
All but one of these stories appeared in other publications, but Down and Out Books has collected them all in one volume, so that we can locate them more easily. I confess that I wouldn't have read them at all if it hadn't been for this anthology.