Moonlight, Gunshot, Mallet, Flame by Alicia Hilton

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I’ve not read Alicia Hilton’s work before but after this short outing in Demain Publishing’s ‘Short Sharp Shocks!’ series this is something I am going to have to remedy – and double time.

Hilton delivers two stunning short stories that are each beautifully woven together, the first, and the title story has us at the scene of a crime, a murder, a cover up but the horrors of this event permeate through her prose and into our protagonists life thereafter – it’s a fabulous story and one that had me gripped from the opening paragraph. The second story of the collection is a weird horror piece and another that was deftly written – taking the occult, folklore and the uncanny and bringing it to our attention in delectable engaging and poetic prose – it’s odd and weird and I loved it. It is both poetic and horrific in equal measure. But one thing can be sure about Hilton’s stories – the women in them have bite and that is something I loved!

Moonlight, Gunshot, Mallet, Flame – as I mentioned is a crime / horror story that is beautifully written and with a real attention to detail (this might be due to Hilton’s FBI background) these added details give a sense of depth to  the characters and gives the story a bite and a realistic quality that I find is often missing from crime stories (it’s all in the details people!). The horror that is exposed by Hilton is exquisite and puts the reader on edge from the get go. It’s a tale that has many layers and Hilton does an expert job at revealing these when the time is right and shielding the reader from others and in doing so hides some sinister undertones. A masterful turn in horror crime writing and a story that lingers… like a stalker in the background biding their time.

‘When we lifted the body out of the stolen Chevy, the moon was full and it was goddamn cold. No fluid had leaked onto the upholstery, but the memory of what I’d done lingered, filling my nostrils with a coppery scent that made my stomach churn. I shut the trunk, and nodded at Nico, signaling him to walk towards the barn. Beneath the snow, the frozen mud was slick as glass.’

A Little Death was a delightful discovery – again the prose from Hilton is deliciously tempting and you can’t help but take the journey. It’s what I would call weird fiction, but don’t let this put you off, there are themes from folklore, the occult and horror and Hilton masterfully blends all three to create a story that is dripping with brilliance. Again there is poetic qualities in this story and towards it’s conclusion I was blown away by the visuals Hilton constructs for our consumption – there are themes such as belonging, racism (in another form), body image and a whole host of other prominent and topical subjects and it really pulls you in, like an undertow, sucking you down and having your lungs screaming for sweet release! A perfect outing from Hilton and one that needs to be consumed.

Two terrific tales and the discovery of a new writer – this is why I love this series from Demain Publishing, and you should too!

Moonlight, Gunshot, Mallet, Flame is published by Demain Publishing more information is available here.

Alicia Hilton

Alicia Hilton is an author, law school professor, attorney, former FBI Special Agent and former fine art consultant. She is taking time off from full-time teaching to write a novel, short stories, poetry, and essays.

Alicia received an MA in Humanities with a focus on Creative Writing and Art History from the University of Chicago, a JD from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents Association and the Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

When she is not writing or travelling for speaking engagements, Alicia enjoys gardening and playing the violin. She lives in a suburb of Chicago with a Yellow-naped Amazon parrot named Zeus and a Mini Rex rabbit named Zoe.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

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