The Death Panel
is a collection of 13 stories (12 new and unpublished) from award winning authors of crime, suspense, and horror. Sadistic serial killers, monsters, cops, the mob, and detectives, all rolled up into one roller coaster ride of an anthology. Ultra violent, hardboiled, with a healthy dose of horror, The Death Panel
is a no-holds-barred trip to the dark side, and sure to give Sarah nightmares!
Our Panel of Death Includes:
Randy Chandler, Tim Curran, John Everson, Brandon Ford, Kelly M. Hudson, David James Keaton, Scott Nicholson, Tom Piccirilli, Zach Sherwood, David Tallerman, Fred Venturini, Erik Williams, Simon Wood and editor Cheryl Mullenax.
“Lipstick Swastika” by Randy Chandler
“Blood Sacrifices & The Catatonic Kid” by Tom Piccirilli
“What Makes an Angel Cry” by Kelly M. Hudson
“The Neighbor” by Brandon Ford
“The Name Game” by Scott Nicholson
“Fly by Night” by Tim Curran
“Detail” by Fred Venturini
“Parental Guidance” by Simon Wood
“Rindelstein’s Monsters” by David Tallerman
“The Hooker in the Backseat” by Erik Williams
“The Mouth” by John Everson
“Nine Cops Killed For A Goldfish Cracker” by David James Keaton
“Board The House Up” by Zach Sherwood
Review by Rod Lott, Bookgasm
“With sharp writing and a crisp design to match, the anthology makes a strong case for 2009’s best. It’s only Comet Press’ third release, but already, the small-press label has distinguished itself as a reliable name brand. Pick it up, if you’ve got the balls.” —Rod Lott
Sarah Palin is good for something after all. Her fearmongering over the health care mess coined a phrase that inadvertently gave Comet Press a terrific title for a crime-based anthology, in THE DEATH PANEL: MURDER, MAYHEM, AND MADNESS, edited by Cheryl Mullenax.
The loose theme yielded some tight writing. Thirteen stories are included, many from young upstarts rather than established vets, and this is a rare case where there’s nary a dud among them. However, that assumes you have a strong stomach and a mind that’s not easily offended. And if that sentence causes an eyebrow or two to twitch, are you in for a treat.
The fatal fun begins with Randy Chandler’s “Lipstick Swastika,” in which impotent hotel detective Trench investigates a fourth-floor guest of Twilight Towers: a buxom German woman who is rumored to be a N@zi war criminal. What happens when e’er the two shall meet was a wild, welcome surprise, setting the reader up for an expectation-shattering 200 pages to follow. As I read this first story, I thought Trench had franchise potential written all over him, and sure enough, the “About the Authors” section at the end confirms that Chandler beat me to the punch.
“The Neighbor” is next, and it’s your first indication that the book doesn’t flinch in the gore department. Brandon Ford tells the tale of two trailer park denizens, one of whom has a taste — both physically and sexually — for dead girls. Its gruesomeness is one-upped — or three-upped, or whatever — later with John Everson’s “The Mouth,” about a kink-seeking deviant who meets a mentally handicapped woman whose vagina is where her mouth is supposed to be, and vice versa. True love! The term “outrageous” doesn’t even begin to cover this one.
After that punch to the gut, it’s nice to have Simon Wood onboard with the playful “Parental Guidance,” a jet-black comedy about a loving father who spills his secrets to a neighbor about making his son behave. It’s too bad ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS isn’t around anymore, because this clever number would be a shoo-in for an adaptation.
With sharp writing and a crisp design to match, the anthology makes a strong case for 2009’s best. It’s only Comet Press’ third release, but already, the small-press label has distinguished itself as a reliable name brand. Pick it up, if you’ve got the balls.”
Review by Erik Smith, Monster Librarian
“If you are a horror fan who wants to expand your horizons, I highly recommend picking up The Death Panel.”
Not all of the stories in The Death Panel are horror, but they are all good. This is more of a hard boiled crime anthology, with some hard boiled horror thrown in the mix. I happen to be a fan of both genres, so I enjoyed the mix of private eyes, dirty cops, gangsters and the occasional monster. With a mix of favorite authors and those who are new to me, the stories range from straight up noir to supernatural crime. Favorites include: “Blood Sacrifices & The Catatonic Kid” by Tom Piccirilli, in which two residents break out of a mental hospital, with violent results. “The Neighbor” by Brandon Ford, asks “What happens when a lonely “trailer” wife thinks her neighbor is a serial killer? Do you really want to know?” In Fred Venturini’s story “Detail”, an ex-cop runs a discreet auto detailing business, and keeps secret files on his customers. When he meets a beautiful woman in trouble, his life gets out of control. John Everson’s “The Mouth” is the story of a sadistic sex freak, always looking for a new thrill, who is pointed towards a girl known only as “The Mouth”. This one is not for the easily offended. “Nine Cops Killed For A Goldfish Cracker” by David James Keaton is difficult to describe. It’s a bizarre story of a man who needs to pay the rent, a goldfish with a thousand dollars in it’s stomach, and all the cops who get in the way. I could go on and on, talking about Tim Curran, Kelly M. Hudson, Simon Wood, and the rest, but you should read these gems for yourself. If you are a horror fan who wants to expand your horizons, I highly recommend picking up The Death Panel.
Review by T.T. Zuma, Horror World, February 2010
Read the full review at Horror World
“These noir themed plotlines in the stories presented in The Death Panel are like a deep breath of fresh air; it’s nice to break with convention occasionally and these stories do so wonderfully.I found myself glued to this book, and when finished, I wanted to read more, it was that enjoyable. So if you’re looking for something a little different to read in your horror fiction, a book with stories that are edgy and cool as all hell, then pick up The Death Panel, and then be prepared to be blown away by some of the best genre short story fiction written in the last few years. Yes, this book is that good.”
Review by Fatally Yours, January 13, 2010
“Comet Press follows up its fantastic short story collection Vile Things: Extreme Deviations of Horror (review) with The Death Panel: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. Like Vile Things, The Death Panel is edited by Cheryl Mullenax and she definitely knows how to pick ‘em! The Death Panel is chock full of vicious, ultra-violent and hardboiled short stories from authors Randy Chandler, Tim Curran, John Everson, Brandon Ford, Kelly M. Hudson, David James Keaton, Scott Nicholson, Tom Piccirilli, Zach Sherwood, David Tallerman, Fred Venturini, Erik Williams and Simon Wood.
“The collection starts with a bang with Randy Chandler’s Lipstick Swastika, a story with a ‘40s noir feel about a hotel security guard that suspects a buxom German blonde to be an escaped Nazi war criminal. The story is full of smoky rooms, irresistible broads, hard men and steamy sex contrasted against explosive violence.
“The violence continues with Blood Sacrifices & The Catatonic Kid by Tom Piccirilli. This is about an older gentleman in a mental institution and the “The Catatonic Kid,” who one day snaps and escapes the institution, leaving a bloody wake behind him. Things aren’t always what they appear though, and the story features a you-will-never-see-it-coming twist!
“One of the most imaginative of the stories is Kelly M. Hudson’s What Makes An Angel Cry, which creates a world where angels run Queens and Satan runs Brooklyn and the two sides are always fighting like rival gangs while humans try to steer clear. I really enjoyed this one, just for the sheer whimsy and creativity of the author, but there is also plenty of bloody fighting in it for the gorehounds out there. Hudson really develops the main character, a human named Billy who runs a bar, and the story has a gruff, New Yorker feel to it that just rang true.
“In Brandon Ford’s disturbing tale The Neighbor, he keeps us on our toes as a trailer park wife suspects her neighbor may be a serial killer. This is a nitty-gritty tale that ratcheted up the suspense and kept surprising me with its many twists and turns.
“The hits keep on coming with The Name Game by Scott Nicholson, about a snitch that loses his new identity only and the only way out from the mobsters he’s running from.
“Next is one of my favorites, Fly by Night by Tim Curran, about some criminals who picked the wrong truck to hijack…and now must pay a very pissed creature of the night with their lives.
“My absolute favorite of the collection, though, is Fred Venturini’s Detail. Precise and perfect, this short story had me by the short hairs. It’s about a car detailer that cleans up after people’s “accidents” and is known for being discreet, yet he keeps evidence against his clients in case he ever needs it. A fiber here, a blood sample there, all stored in a safe and carefully filed for potential future use. When he falls in love with a client who had been cheating on her husband, though, things take a tragic turn. Just like the stories title, it’s all about the details in this one and Venturini fits them together beautifully.
“Parental Guidance by Simon Wood is about the perfect all-American family, the Barnes, and father Preston Barnes’ secret and extreme method of keeping his kids in check. Rindelstein’s Monsters by David Tallerman is a murder mystery filled with supernatural beasts confined to a mental institution. The Hooker in the Backseat by Erik Williams is about a grim father/son reunion after the son gets out of prison for covering for his pop.
“The most shocking story of the collection is John Everson’s The Mouth, about a prostitute whose mouth is a vagina and whose vagina is a mouth. Apparently it gets pretty confusing for a john and he sticks it in the wrong place and impregnates her neck. Things don’t end well…
“Nine Cops Killed for a Goldfish Cracker by David James Keaton is a surreal urban tale about a junkie trying to pay rent on time but having to face innumerous obstacles. I loved the inventive writing style of this one, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
“Zach Sherwood’s Board the House Up end the collection with an uneasy story about a cop on suspension that decides to check out a burglary in progress but finds something much more horrifying than robbers.
“There is not one bad story contained between the pages of The Death Panel: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness. I eagerly read the noir-tinged and hard-boiled stories of crime, violence and horror and eagerly await Comet Press’ next release, because they and editor Cheryl Mullenax are really making a name for themselves in the horror community!”
RANDY CHANDLER is the author of the forthcoming novel Dime Detective (April 30, 2012), and the previously published novels Daemon of the Dark Wood, Bad Juju, and HELLz BELLz. He also co-authored Duet for the Devil with t. Winter-Damon (God rest his soul) and has contributed short stories to numerous anthologies. He has written numerous short stories, including those in the new Twilight Detective series, the first of which appears online at thuglit.com.
TIM CURRAN lives in Michigan and is the author of the novels Skin Medicine, Hive, and Dead Sea. Upcoming projects include the novels Resurrection and The Devil Next Door. His short stories have appeared in such magazines as City Slab, Flesh&Blood, Book of Dark Wisdom, and Inhuman, as well as anthologies such as Flesh Feast, Shivers IV, and Vile Things. Find him on the web at: www.corpseking.com.
JOHN EVERSON is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Covenant, Sacrifice and The 13th. John shares a deep purple den in Naperville, Illinois with a cockatoo and cockatiel, a disparate collection of fake skulls, twisted skeletal fairies and a large stuffed Eeyore. In order to avoid the onerous task of writing, he records pop-rock songs in a hidden home studio, experiments with the insatiable culinary joys of the jalapeno, designs photo collage art bookcovers and chases frequent excursions into the bizarre visual headspace of ’70s euro-horror DVDs with a shot of Makers Mark and a tall glass of Newcastle. Visit him at www.johneverson.com.
BRANDON FORD has written 3 novels; Crystal Bay, Splattered Beauty, and the soon to be released Pay Phone. He has also contributed to the anthologies Abaculus 2007, Abaculus III, Sinister Landscapes, Raw: Brutality as Art, and Creeping Shadows, a collection of 3 short novels. He currently resides in Philadelphia.
KELLY M. HUDSON grew up in the wilds of Kentucky and currently resides in California. He has a deep and abiding love for all things horror and rock n’ roll, and if you wish to contact Kelly or find links to other stories, please visit www.kellymhudson.com for further details. Kelly thanks you for reading his dumb old story and wishes you and yours a very happy day!
DAVID JAMES KEATON’s fiction has recently appeared in Big Pulp, Six Sentences, Pulp Pusher, Espresso Stories and Crooked. He is a contributor to The College Rag and the University of Pittsburgh’s online journal Hot Metal Bridge. He is also a part-time graduate student at Pitt and a full-time closed captioner. He is constantly rewriting three screenplays; a prison movie, a thriller, and a western. And although he should be working on a fifth novel, he continues to unwisely cram more material into his first, a book which can, at this point, land comfortably on one of six sides if dropped from chest level. Usually this happens when someone checks the page count. Find him occasionally at buglove.blogspot.com.
SCOTT NICHOLSON is the author of seven novels, including They Hunger and The Skull Ring. He’s published more than 60 stories, six comic books, five screenplays, and two collections. A freelance editor and journalist, Nicholson’s website is www.hauntedcomputer.com.
TOM PICCIRILLI is the author of twenty novels including The Cold Spot, The Coldest Mile, A Choir of Ill Children, and the forthcoming Shadow Season. He’s won the International Thriller Award and four Bram Stoker Awards, as well as having been nominated for the Edgar, the World Fantasy Award, the Macavity, and Le Grand Prix de L’imagination. Learn more at his blog at www.thecoldspot.blogspot.com.
ZACH SHERWOOD lives between homes in Chicago at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and back with his family in the south suburbs. Things like zombies, cowboys, and grizzly bears frequent his mind as he aspires to create dark witty works of fiction.
DAVID TALLERMAN spent four years at York University studying English Literature, specializing in the literary history of witchcraft—a specialization he totally failed to capitalize on by becoming an IT Technician. Over the last couple of years, he’s had published reviews, poetry, a comic strip, and numerous stories across a variety of genres. Highlights include appearances in Chiaroscuro, Pseudopod and Flash Fiction Online, and having a zombie story printed alongside the work of genre luminaries like Neil Gaiman and Stephen King in Night Shade Books’ The Living Dead anthology. Find him on the web at
www.davidtallerman.net and davidtallerman.blogspot.com
FRED VENTURINI has written in exchange for various treasures, including an MFA from Lindenwood University, contributer’s copies, token payments, checks that sometimes do not bounce, and most of all, for the love of the act. His fiction, most of it horrific in nature, has recently appeared or is forthcoming in River Styx, Polluto, Underground Voices, Necrotic Tissue, Twisted Dreams, and others.
ERIK WILLIAMS lives in Southern California with his wife and daughter. His stories have appeared in Greatest Uncommon Denominator, Apex Digest, Necrotic Tissue and other small press venues. His novellas Blood Spring and The Reverend’s Powder, as well as his novel Demon, have all recently been sold and will be published in the near future.
SIMON WOOD is an ex-racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional private investigator. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines anthologies, such as Seattle Noir, Thriller 2 and Woman’s World. He’s a frequent contributor to Writer’s Digest. He’s the Anthony Award winning author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper and We All Fall Down. As Simon Janus, he’s the author of The Scrubs and Road Rash. His next thriller, Terminated, will be out next June. Curious people can learn more at www.simonwood.net.