Sunday, October 31, 2010


TIPPIN' HANCOCK'S HAT-Reviews by Tommy Hancock
“Just Another Day in Paradise”
A Collection of Short Fiction by Katherine Tomlinson Available through

Pulp comes in many shades and although most of them concern good versus evil, over the top action, and high adventure, some are more sullen, somber, and sadistic. Dark fiction has haunted Pulp since its inception, from Lovecraft forward. The combined fascination and horror at our innermost fears, things that go bump in the night, and the worst evil being within our own hearts lives on well in this collection of short dark fiction from Katherine Tomlinson.

“Just Another Day in Paradise” is a compilation of short staccato punches to the midriff and the reader’s troubled consciousness. Tomlinson moves ably from the mundane being made monstrous to the supernatural becoming the normal, each type of story causing chills and thrills. Tomlinson shows a great grasp on the voice of each of her characters, regardless of gender, disposition, or any other aspect of said creations. And when I say ‘voice’, I’m not just referring to how they are portrayed. I really mean the voices that speak to each of these people living in Tomlinson’s world, the conflicting desires and terrors that drive them all, the feral motivations wrestling with higher level morals and ethics. Tomlinson seems to crawl inside the head of each of her cast of characters and, by the time she is through, divulge them of everything dark and hidden right onto the written page.

The strongest tale by far for me was ‘Tired Blood’, which concerns a world where humans exist right beside creatures of the night. This, according to Tomlinson, is the beginning of what will one day be novel length adventures set in this universe. Instead of this type of ‘they live among us’ story being clichéd, Tomlinson writes this tale as if it were a straight ahead police procedural/mystery story, which it is. She doesn’t dumb it down for her readers, either. There is no hand holding with this story, no exposition explaining why the world is this way opening the story. You know why by the end of it, well at least some of why, but its handled with the most respect to the intellect of the reader and to the benefit of the story itself.

Other stories that stand out include the title story, ‘Tiger Bone Wine’, Sweet Tooth’, The Anticancer (a mechanic who is a real wizard…literally), The Sin Eater, among others. Actually, there’s not a bad tale in the lot on the whole. The greatest drawback to this collection of short fiction is…the fiction is too short at times. Tomlinson does an excellent job of setting up individual worlds, distinct viewpoints in each tale, but in some instances it’s just not enough. A few stories, ‘Kingdom of the Cat’ comes to mind, could have gone on a few more paragraphs and been outstanding instead of just good.

Katherine Tomlinson’s ‘Just Another Day in Paradise’ is a guaranteed delightfully disturbing  diorama of darkness that haunts the human soul and even the nonhuman psyche.

Four out of Five Tips of Hancock’s Hat (usually reserved for heads of state, arresting officers, and little old ladies, which is pretty darn good.)