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I.D. Crimes of Identity

The Crime Writers' Association Anthology


"I was sitting in the Bankside bar, looking out of the window at a sluggish Thames. The water was thick, like oil, and a fine toxic mist has begun to blur the City lights. Two helicopters swooped down low and followed the river, swinging a search beam from bank to bank. I took a drag from my cigarette and tried to relax."

Reviewed by Sarah Hilary

After reading a slew of recent crime bestsellers, with their pulpy pages and unfailingly garish covers, it was refreshing to receive this slim clean volume published by Comma Press. The book feels exactly right, with its matt finish and bright pages, the spine picked out in mackintosh-olive-drab; I spent a few minutes coveting the care taken by Comma before I began reading. I was anticipating a collection of stories with the common theme of identity – fraud, theft, loss of, search for – but still the wide sweep of subject and genre surprised me. Certainly there are stories of the sort I expected, convoluted tales of masquerading con-men and women with nicely foreshadowed twists in the tale, but more than a couple of stories took me by surprise. Paul Freeman’s The Document, for example, a tale told in 200 words but rich in history and incident, or Street Value by Frank Tallis, a robustly entertaining story set in a futuristic London full of glitter and grime. 

My favourite was more simply told, by Stuart Pawson. Les’s Story was sharp, unflinching, funny and poignant. It was also the only tale with a twist that I did not see coming. Zoë Sharp’s Tell Me invited the reader to spot the twist from the off, but this did not get in the way of the compelling story she told. 

Several of the stories in the anthology offered variations on the ‘damsels in distress’ theme, some dealing with this more creatively than others, although I suspect readers with the palate for chick-lit will not feel short-changed by stories like Out of Her Mind and The People in the Flat Across the Road. Lovers of the complex whodunit may fare better with The Rock than I did, and while I enjoyed Other People, I did feel it served up an unnecessary flourish at the end which detracted this reader from the otherwise fine economy of the piece. Far better, in my view, was the weirdly wonderful Jizz by Mat Coward, a hard lesson in moral dilemma hiding under a masterfully-wrought mask of humour and oddity. How pleasing that this story, on the surface so lightweight and cloaked at times in silliness, should be the one that exposed the frailty of the human condition most thoroughly. 

Special mention should go to the innovative contribution by editor Martin Edwards at the very end of the anthology, InDex, which invites the reader to piece together the dryly-presented data to create a sensational little thriller. The Crime Writers’ Association, with its famous Dagger Debut Award, has long been at the forefront of championing the genre, and this latest offering demonstrates that the short crime story is alive and kicking.


Sarah Hilary  won the Fish Historical-Crime Contest with her story, Fall River, August 1892. Her story, The Eyam Stones, was runner-up in the Historical Contest. Both stories will be published in the Fish Anthology 2008. Sarah’s stories have been published in The Beat, Neon, SHINE, Bewildering Stories, Every Day Fiction, LitBits, MYTHOLOG, HeavyGlow, Twisted Tongue, Kaleidotrope and the Boston Literary Magazine. Her short story, On the line, was published in the Daunt 2006 anthology. The Subatomic 2007 anthology features her story, LoveFM. She won the Litopia Contest in 2007 with The Chaperon. Sarah lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and young daughter. She is currently working on a crime novel, with a view to securing an agent to represent her work.

PublisherComma Press

& The Crime Writers' Association

Publication Date: 2006

Paperback/Hardback? Paperback

First anthology?:No

Awards: Sins of Scarlet, by Robert Barnard, won the CWA Short Story Award for 2006

Editor: Martin Edwards 

Authors: Michael Jecks, Bill Kirton, Peter Lovesey, Stuart Pawson, Christine Poulson, Zoë Sharp, Frank Tallis, Yvonne Eve Walus, Carla Banks, Tonino Benacquista, Robert Barnard, Natasha Cooper, Mat Coward, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Paul A Freeman, Edward D Hoch.

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