Eulogy by Paul J. Garth

I remember my father’s body as I smash Anna’s nose. Remember how clammy his embalmed hand felt in mine as blood spills down her face and onto the frozen concrete. Remember how I felt trying to give his eulogy but not able to get a god damn word out as she lays beneath me, begging me to stop.

I wonder if he’s above, watching. Daddy’s little girl. But it’s just Aaron and Jeff, screaming my name, grabbing at my coat.

Like I’m doing this for fun. Like she wasn’t practically begging for it, bragging she knew where the cop lived but refusing to tell.

They pull me off her. I adjust my coat. Squeeze my eyes shut. I want to keep kicking, but don’t. Dad always said never hurt someone more than you need to make your point. It’s a lesson I wish the cop who killed him had been taught.

“Tell me,” I say, sure she knows I’m serious now. “Or I’m gonna break your fucking leg.”

She talks through bloody lips. His name. His address. How her brother went to school with him.

I help her up. Tell her no hard feelings. And to keep her mouth shut.

Lincoln, where the State Cop lives, is an hour away. Jeff drives me.

“You sure this is right, Miranda? He thought he was carrying. That he had a gun.”

“He didn’t.”

“That’s what he thought.”

“So?”

“So it’s just been a few days. Funeral was yesterday. And after what happened when you went up there? Maybe give it some more time?”

Dad was no angel. I know that. There’s a certain kind of man that teaches his motherless daughter how to hurt people when she’s eleven years old, and those certain kinds of men are going to leave their share of pain and pity in their wake. They’re going to have records. Outstanding bills. They’re going to end up in a borrowed truck with six pounds of Ozark Brown stuffed under the seats, moving it north for their old friend Mr. Rash on some last desperate job to make chemo money, and some fresh-gilled patrolman is going to stop him, piss his pants when he thinks he sees a flash of chrome, then put three bullets in their chest.

There’s a path for those certain kind of men.

And one for their daughters.

I pull my gun out. Bought two days ago from Aaron’s uncle.

“Jesus, you’re really gonna do it.”

“We’ll see,” I say.

Lincoln. It takes twenty minutes to find the address. It’s an older house. Small. Painted blue, a Nebraska State Patrol car in the driveway.

“Miranda, I really don’t…”

“I don’t care.”

“How are you getting back?”

We sling weed to poultry plant workers and kids at the Christian college in Fremont. Like that’s a life worth figuring out how to get back to. There’s no one else now. Just me, Jeff, Anna and Doug, and after today, Anna would probably skip my funeral. “Just let me the fuck out, Jeff.”

I walk around the block twice once he’s gone, my finger on the gun, sweating in spite of the cold. Dad would backhand me if he could see. If he knew what I was thinking. I saw him smash a man’s face with a pool ball a few years back, right after I dropped out of college, but he drew the line at guns.

At killing.

I approach the house. There’s no plan in my head. No branching scenarios differentiating bad from worse. Just me and the gun and the cop and the doorbell.

I buzz it. Hear movement inside.

My finger slips over the trigger. The gun comes half out of my coat pocket.

Mr. Rash opens the door, eyes bugging in surprise as he sees me.

Inside, I see the cop sitting at a glass kitchen table, couple one pound bricks of heroin sitting on it, clear in the open. The heroin my dad was moving.     

The cop and Mr. Rash, they go for their guns the same time I pull mine, tears blurring my vision, my father’s name on my lips, my eulogy for him finally delivered in my squeezing hands.

Shotgun Honey Presents Favorite Reads of 2019 (Part Four)

Our final week of Favorite Reads of 2019 sends out the year with 13 additional books to add to your wish lists and New Year’s reading lists. I know my 2020 is going to be full of books.

This week we invite Scott Adlerberg, Sarah M. Chen and Paul J. Garth, and I tackle a list of my favorites as well.

Remember, most of the contributors for this series have wonderful books of their own that are always looking for good homes.

On with the books and thank you for making 2019 memorable.


Scott Adlerberg

Author of Jack Waters and Graveyard Love

AMERICAN SPY by Lauren Wilkinson

Marie Mitchell, a black woman from New York City works for the FBI during the 1980s.  Obviously, she stands out, and it’s her uniqueness along with her competence, that alerts the CIA to her so that they wind up recruiting her for a job in West Africa.  American Spy is a character study, a political novel, a love story, and a story about memory and history. It deals with race and gender both in the United States and Africa, and it does all this while telling an espionage tale.  What does it mean to be an American, a black American, a woman who is a black American, a woman who is a black American who takes a job to bring down an African leader devoted to building a black nation that can be free of western imperialist control?  American Spy is a rich, layered book and a lovely, propulsive read. 

HIPSTER DEATH RATTLE by Richie Narvaez

Won’t somebody stand up to the scourge of gentrification striking our cities?  One man does, in hipster central, otherwise known as Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but he does happen to be a deranged killer.  Well, everyone has their reasons, and perhaps those resistant to the way a neighborhood evolves and forces out people living there for decades aren’t entirely wrong.  As a lifelong New Yorker, Richie Narvaez knows his terrain well, and he uses his knowledge to present a very varied and interesting cast of characters.  To go with it all, he’s quite amusing.  Hipster Death Rattle is a classic case of an author using the mystery form to tell a fast-paced entertaining story while delivering pungent social commentary.

BLOOD SUGAR by Daniel Kraus

The plotting of a terrible crime lies at the core of this novel, but it also has a whiff of horror.  Besides that, it’s what you might call a Halloween YA novel, about a group of damaged kids who form their own family around a grown-up man who’s the most damaged of them all.  From page to page, I found myself laughing, squirming with discomfort, or feeling the sadness in the characters.  Through it all, we have the young teen narrator’s voice, a voice not quite like any other I’ve encountered in fiction.  Will he win the fight with himself and retain his humanity, or will he give in to the influences who’d be happy to have him help wreak destruction on others?  This is a book filled with mounting tension and comedy of the bleakest sort – a combination hard to resist.


Sarah M. Chen

Author of Cleaning Up Finn and Night of the Flood

NEVER LOOK BACK by Alison Gaylin

Alison Gaylin is one of my favorite writers of psychological suspense. This latest book, about a podcaster researching a teenage serial killer couple from the 1970s, skillfully weaves together several storylines from multiple POVs. Gripping from beginning to end. 

THE UNREPENTANT by E.A. Aymar

Relentless, gritty, and gut-wrenching with Aymar’s signature humor and heart. Set in the grim world of sex-trafficking, this thriller never feels gratuitous or heavy-handed. A powerful, brave read. 

YOU ALL GROW UP AND LEAVE ME: A MEMOIR OF TEENAGE OBSESSION by Piper Weiss

I read a lot of nonfiction in 2019 but this coming-of-age memoir is at the top of my list. I found myself recommending it countless times to those interested in true crime or memoir. It’s less about the actual crime than it is about an Upper East Side teenage girl’s obsession with her tennis coach who was later revealed to be a child predator. Disturbing, painfully honest, and beautifully written. 


Paul Garth

Contributing Editor for Shotgun Honey

SAFE by Ryan Gattis

A punk rock heist novel set right before the 2008 economic collapse about a professional safecracker who rips off a cartel, but also a novel about grief, life, the things we do for family, and how trapped you are by where you come from. The best crime novel I read all year, who cares that it technically came out two years ago? Like the playlist that fronts the novel, this book is timeless, angry, and lean. An absolute stunner. 

BLACK MOUNTAIN by Laird Barron 

The book I imagined when I heard Laird Barron was writing a crime series. Intense, nihilistically bleak, and slyly humorous, Black Mountain has a hardboiled heart, but a head full of cosmic terror. 

DOWN THE RIVER UNTO THE SEA by Walter Mosley

Mosley writes PIs better than anyone and Down the River Unto the Sea is his bang-on-the-table-goddamn-triumph. Corrupt cops (like, seriously, seriously bad), scheming politicos, racial tensions, all the tangles of family, and the single most chilling Tough Guy sidekick I’ve ever read (seriously, don’t ever mess with a dude named Melquarth Frost) – they all get spun up into a tight mystery that puts our hero in way over his head. If you’re burnt out on the PI genre, this one will singlehandedly restore your interest. 

SATANIC PANIC: POP-CULTURAL PARANOIA IN THE 1980S edited by Kier La-Janisse & Paul Corupe 

One of the most beautiful books I own, this collection of essays, each presented with several black and white photographs, explores the intersection between a changing pop culture and an insurgent spiritual reawakening, and the horrific consequences of their collision. Somehow fun and horrifying all at once (not to mention timely) this book is a beautiful and insightful reminder of how fear can be used for control.


Ron Earl Phillips

Publisher and Managing Editor of Shotgun Honey

MY DARKEST PRAYER by S.A Cosby

Cosby debut is immediately engaging as Nathan Waymaker rides the line between good and bad as he attempt to uncover the truths behind the death of a local minister who had seedier past. Full of memorable characters, sex and violence overlapping a compelling mystery, My Darkest Prayer is nuanced and deft writing.

ONE SMALL SACRIFICE by Hilary Davidson

Since Davidson’s debut in 2011, I’ve enjoyed her ability to ability to write stories about characters and places, and the mysteries between. One Small Sacrifice is no different, as Det. Sheryn Sterling discovers she must solve a murder before understanding the disappearance of a local doctor, and how the man in the middle of both cases, Alex Traynor, connects the pieces.

TINY LOVE by Larry Brown

This posthumous collection of short stories by the late working class writer Larry Brown not only collects his stories, but gives you an understanding of Brown’s personal growth as a writer. Not formally trained, Brown wrote story after story until he was finally published in the 1980s, his first story published in Easyrider. That story though not the best, shows the foundation for telling lean stories with a depth that outnumbers their word counts.


I hope you’ve enjoyed these recommendations over the last four weeks and find some new voices you may have overlooked. Have a great new year and read lots of books and stories.

Blight Digest Winter 2015 Reveal

BD-Winter2015-Iss2-v2BLIGHT DIGEST Winter 2015 is expected to release the last week of February, and includes 13 all new tales to tingle and terrorize.

Our Table of Contents:

  • Grant Jerkins
  • Mathew Andrew
  • Eddie McNamara
  • Angel Luis Colón
  • Paul Garth
  • Mathew Allan Garcia
  • Jacqueline Seewald
  • Tony Wilson
  • John Steele
  • J M Perkins
  • William P Johnson
  • John Leahy
  • Joe Powers

Our editors are Bracken MacLeod, Jan Kozlowski, Frank Larnerd and Ron Earl Phillips. Jan who was an invaluable asset for the Fall 2014 edition lent a notable hand in the selection process. Frank Larnerd steps in for final production and will assist on the summer and fall editions. Bracken MacLeod will provide the foreword.

Our cover, “Praying with the Serpent,” is a masterful digital painting by Dyer Wilk. Wilk provided the art for our inaugural Fall 2014 release.

At this time, stories for the Summer 2015 edition are still under review.