Flowers in a Dumpster – Mark Allen Gunnells (Crystal Lake Publishing)
I had no idea what to expect when I was sent “Flowers in a Dumpster” as this was my first venture into Gunnells fast paced short horror style. After finishing the book and looking at Gunnells other work I’ve seen reference to his style being akin to a written version of the Twilight Zone series and I think this is a perfect description. It’s a fun romp, you’re never quite sure what to expect. The story starts, it could be 3 pages it could be 20. It could be mysterious, it could be gruesome, it could be shocking. Some stories start with a bang, others starts slowly and pick up pace, often with a twist or unexpected turn. Some have purpose, leading to conclusion; others are simply tiny snapshots with hints of a bigger world or storyline that we don’t see. The book gives you 17 rolls of the dice, 17 different visions from Gunnells vivid imagination and each is a fun ride.
My personal favorites were ‘The Locked Tower’ and ‘Welcome’. In ‘The Locked Tower’ writer Alec Stevenson returns to his old school to investigate using the setting for a new book, only to become obsessed with the school tower, mysteriously locked and inaccessible. What could be in there and why the elaborate attempts to keep him out? ‘Welcome’ has a very different feel and slower build as a couple, Steve and Al find themselves stuck after a long drive and look for a house where they can find help. But why are Fred and Linda, the couple living there quite so welcoming and glad to see them?
These were two of the more regular tales; others have a more sexual slant or aim to be more shocking. So in summary an easy fun read, perfect to grab a few stories on a train ride or as life grants you a quick moment to relax. Simon Down