I’ve said it enough that people are probably starting to think I’m a liar, but I’m not a huge fan of short fiction. I know, I know. Blasphemy. And I’m not really sure why. But other than a handful of people–H.P. Lovecraft (obvi), J.R. Hamantaschen, and a handful of others–I’d just assume read novels. So I began Hank Schwaeble’s American Nocturne with some trepidation. I like Hank, and the last thing I wanted to do was hate his book.
Turns out, I had nothing to fear. Except, maybe, the stories.
There are two kinds of short stories in American Nocturne. The first is what you might call a typical short story. It starts, you are introduced to some characters, they have a confrontation, and then it ends. These stories are quite good, but it is the second type I want to highlight. These stories offer you but a glimpse into some wider world. You are only there for a bit. You only see a fragment of the overarching story. And it’s amazing. More than once I wanted a full novel length from these stories, and if there’s a greater endorsement than that, I don’t know what is.
The best part of this book is a story from the Night Stalker universe of Carl Kolchak. It’s likely this is the last officially licensed Night Stalker story, as the creator of that series has now passed on. If so, it is a fitting ending to Kolchak’s career. I saved it for last, and I was glad I did.