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Book Review

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Dangerous Women
Part III


Edited by: George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 754944 3
Publication Date: 20 November 2014

What constitutes a dangerous woman? Throughout history, from the Amazons and harpies of myth to historical figures like Boudicca and Catherine the great there have always been women who were willing to resort to violence or subterfuge to get what they wanted and yet the idea that women remain the more passive sex remains. To explore this idea, George R. R. Martin and Gardner commissioned various writers to examine the theme...

Dangerous Women: Part III (2014. 218 Pages) contains another seven stories in this on-going anthology.

Some Desperado, by Joe Abercrombie, is an all-new western story which plays to the writer's strength of producing strong, believable characters. We meet Shy, on the run and running out of steam, with her pursuers close behind. Having lost almost everything she finds herself in a small town which has long been deserted. Backed into a corner, Shy becomes more dangerous, turning the hunters into the hunted. It is well written, but did feel like a small vignette of a larger story.

City Lazarus, by Diana Rowland, is set in New Orleans, after the river has shifted, removing much of the reason for the cities existence. Danny is a good cop, if not scrupulously honest, a survival technique in a city dying on its feet. A murder investigation leads him to meet a beautiful woman, who he had once admired, only to discover that deadly things can also come in beautiful packages. The story is in many ways a noir love story and we know liaisons with femme fatales never turn out well.

Hell Hath No Fury, by Sherlynn Kenyon, sees a group of paranormal investigators arrive at a ghost town, intent on catching evidence of its haunting only to get more than they bargained for. This was probably the least satisfying story in the collection. The characters are hard to empathise with and the coincidence too unbelievable. It worked well as an older style horror story, but this one comes with a message.

The Hands that are not There, by Melinda Snodgrass, is a science fiction short which once again extols the virtue of being careful around beautiful women. It’s another shaggy dog story. Man walks into a bar to drown his sorrows only to be told a story which puts his day into perspective. Given the brevity of the piece Snodgrass did well to so successfully create a believable civilisation based on fear and snobbery.

Caretakers, by Pat Cadigan, is a contemporary short which starts with a discussion of female serial killers before telling a tale of more mundane everyday murder. This one I could have taken or left, it has a modern setting and the events are not that far outside events reported on the news, but I felt the dramatic punch was lacking at the end.

Nora’s Song, by Cecelia Holland, is a historical short dealing with the dangerous machinations of the European medieval court, from the perspective of a small child. Whilst it worked as showing historical events from a different perspective, once again the story did not feel self contained enough, more like a chapter from a wider work.

Bombshells, by Jim Butcher, is probably the most straight up fun story in the collection, using characters from his previous books and introduces us to Molly, a powerful if somewhat inexperienced wizard, who must infiltrate a treaty negotiation to rescue her friend Thomas.

Overall, not bad, certainly this volume succeeds in presenting a more defined idea of what a dangerous woman is capable of. In some cases, where there was only a single female character the overall theme did spoil any discovery or tension, but then that’s a problem born out of the anthologies title.


Charles Packer

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