Cover Image: Unloaded 2

Unloaded 2

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Unloaded Volume Two - a collection of short stories, a worthy perusal for all crime thriller fiction fans..
Was this review helpful?
I loved this collection of short stories, there's something for everyone. Great to dip into when you have a few minutes to spare. I think it would benefit from a good proofread, though, as there were lots of silly, avoidable and typographical mistakes. Great concept too.
Was this review helpful?
An eclectic collection of crime short stories without guns mentioned. Crime non the less. For me, a book to dip in and out of rather than read cover to cover.
I would recommend it, if like me, you have a strong aversion to guns.
Personally I prefer a single author with a single plot rather than a collection.
Was this review helpful?
I chose this book because of the idea behind it - proceeds go towards States United To Prevent Gun Violence. It is the second collection. The premise is that it is possible to tell a solid thriller without including a gun. 22 of the stories are fictional. The last one is true, and has an editor’s note explaining why. I have read more than my share of thrillers, and felt this was right in my wheelhouse.

Honestly, this collection scared the hell out of me. The last story in particular stayed with me for days. It is a very dark collection. The stories take place in a variety of settings. The common theme through most of them is that violence and murder can happen anywhere, at anytime. Sometimes it is planned. Others are crimes in the heat of the moment. Some are even accidental. But regardless, the ramifications of those acts are deeply felt by others.

The collection also comes at the idea of violence from different angles. In one story the victim is an abusive spouse. Another story doesn’t have a stated perpetrator or victim, but instead explores the idea of not reporting a crime. Some of the stories are very quick reads - dynamic dashes of words. I don’t want to use the word “enjoyed”, but I did think most were well-written. I also found a few authors whose back catalogue might be worth exploring.

But not right now. Right now I will just be thankful for all that I have. I do recommend the collection, but in small doses. It did take me longer than usual to finish, as I had to stop frequently. I am glad I am now aware of the charity, but this may not have been the best route for me to take. And as the editor states in the foreward, hopefully there will not be a need for a third installment. But unfortunately there is a large part of me that doubts that to be true.
Was this review helpful?
Unloaded 2 provides a feast of reading in the form of a nicely weighted collection of short stories. 

In turn we visit:

a forgery story and a boy who saves Christmas.

a primate escaping from the zoo who spots a hedge cutter and fantasises about chopping off the mean giraffe's tail.

an abused wife whose husband likes to soak in bubbles.

a boxer reflecting on scam in a casino and a hooker who hits hard.

a brother who likes to play hide-and-seek can never be forgotten.

the search for a missing cat which reveals more than fur and paws.

money collectors.

revenge and tattoos.

a baby needing a new home.

prison killings.

the mystery of a soccer team's suicides. 

the writer who gives robots their personalities. 

a father attempting to reconnect with his disabled son.

a truly amazing disappearing trick.

a first night as a punk rocker.

a man and his lover waiting for her husband to come home.

a lighthouse with a gruesome past.

a restaurant critic serving up a meal of his own.

a cop straying from the straight and narrow.

a prison nightmare with remote control planes.

and, finally, a story with guns. 

The range of styles and voices is broad, but they have in common quality writing and the ability to forge a world within only a few pages. 

As with any anthology, I have my own favourites, but I think it would do you no favours to name them here. Instead, I'd urge you to read this yourself and pick your own. 

My guarantee is that you're in for a treat with this collection. There are some great twists and turns, some really powerful emotions, genuinely nail-biting journeys and enough swift blows to keep you interested throughout.

The final piece underlines why gun law needs to be seriously re-considered. It's a work of non-fiction that ties the project up perfectly. 

Unloaded 2 proves beyond doubt that guns aren't necessary to create amazing crime fiction. It delivers enough of the starters, the main courses, desserts and drinks for even the most voracious reader to have their fill.
Was this review helpful?
Eric Beetner and Down & Out Books have returned with a second volume of short stories; their first outing was nominated for an Anthony at Bouchercon for Best Anthology/Collection in 2017. Beetner has corralled two dozen of today’s top and rising writers of crime fiction to donate a story to benefit States United To Prevent Gun Violence. The concept is a crime story in which no guns are used.

Anthologies are a tasting sampler – and almost all the writers in this volume have their work on Amazon. Each story can be read in one sitting, and you can appreciate sardonic humor, the stark landscapes, punk music in LA, and all kinds of creepy situations from the minds of these writers. Some highlights. There’s a schemer and a fugitive bonobo in James Ziskin’s Pan and Paniscus. A dim dad and bright son during the holiday season inhabit the pages of Chris Holm’s Con Season. A dying and nostalgic serial killer informs Laura McHugh’s Endgame. Bill Crider penned a postmodernist tale about a search for a missing cat. Two authors, Sanders and Shames, depict marriages gone sideways. In A Vanishing Story from Michael Kardos, there’s a brilliant mix of crime and horror. Nick Kolakowski’s story Amanda: A Confession is a real head-trip. Lori Rader-Day renders a tale with a white-trash vibe that includes a game of riddley-ree and a young girl who is smarter than her parents. There’s a little bit of darkness, in every conceivable possibility, for fans of crime fiction here, and for readers in search of new authors.  

Closing notes: The story Poo-Poo (name of the cat) is especially poignant since Mr. Crider was fond of cats and he passed away in February 2018. The final piece from E.A. Aymar isn’t a short story, but an essay about a wayward bullet that struck his son’s daycare. Nobody was hurt, but the anxiety and fear is palpable, as it’s every parent’s nightmare and a stark reminder how the random and tragic can happen without warning.
Was this review helpful?
"With so many other distractions these days, while the number of gun deaths hasn't decreased in America, the reporting on it has. It's become so second nature, so common and expected, that it simply isn't news anymore.

That's chilling. We're normalizing the enormous scale of gun violence in our society."

Living in Scotland it is difficult for me to fully grasp the level of gun violence in the USA. Sara Paratesky provides some stark figures, which feel almost unbelievable, but are all too real. The above quote from the anthology's editor, Eric Beetner, encapsulates where the country is with gun violence. It is all too normal. 

I can still remember as an 11 year old being told about the Dunblane tragedy and am thankful that law changes have prevented other such tragedies in my country, but in the States a 200 year old document possibly no longer fit for purpose guides the hand more than the countless loss of young lives. Beetner has expressed that he doesn't expect the two Unloaded volumes to bring about the change that is needed, but it holds a spotlight on an ever prevalent issue in the United States, while also raising money for charity.

There's lots of entertainment to be had with these stories and it's not a book that sets out to preach at all. The range of tales is immense and while there is plenty of good old fashioned spousal noir there is a lot of creativity on show too. Some of the tales easily substituted another weapon for what would've/could've been the gun in the story, but I think this was perhaps the point in some ways to show how replacable they can be within the confines of crime fiction.

"Pan Paniscus" by James Ziskin recounts the tale of an escaped chimp and what he gets up to during his sabbatical from zoo life. "You Kill Me" by Terry Shames is one of the aforementioned spousal noir tales, but it's one that will linger especially the title. "We Have to Talk" by Dave White is a true ace in the hole of a story that remains excellent even when you can see where it's going.

"Julie Heart Number Three" by James R. Tuck tickled that weird soft spot for stories based in tattoo shops even though I sport none myself. "Flight" by Kris Calvin takes a harrowing turn from gun crime/noir to shine a light on a different type of crime. "Barrio Math" by Josh Stallings is a great tale of a young L.A. punk coming of age.

I was excited for Michael Kardos' "A Vanishing Story", but the stylistic nature of it almost swallows it up. "Amanda: A Confession" by Nick Kolakowski is a wonderfully written revenge tale and "Magic 8 Ball" by Scott Loring Sanders is the cherry on top of the spousal noir tales.

The thing about anthologies is that they always make you add to that TBR list and as well as a few from above I have a few new series to track down thanks to the stories of Bill Crider and Jay Stringer. The late Bill Crider pens "Poo-Poo" in which his laid back PI Truman Smith is wrangled into tracking down a cat by his friend and gets more than he bargained for. The tone reminded me of Hap and Leonard with that sort of hapless and bumbling type of investigation on the go. Jay Stringer brings a tale from his character, Eoin Miller, in which the death of an old school friend sees him return to his hometown for the funeral. The tale brings with it a lot of richly written character history that makes it more than just your standard anthology entry and means I am sure to track down the series at some point.

"A bullet broke through a day care's window, sailed over the heads of the children sleeping in the room, and smashed into the wall. My two year old son was at that day care.

True story."

"The Center" by E.A. Aymar is saved until last and this one is an essay as opposed to the fiction that has come before. The opening lines resonate deeply especially for someone who has young children myself. The other harrowing thing about the essay is that Aymar has more than one story of violence to recount including that of his father, who was working at the Pentagon on 9/11. While reading this it led to me looking around and trying to imagine if I lived in a country where my fellow bus passengers would/could be "packing heat". It seems so alien to me, but there are millions who live in a place where it is, somehow, normal.
Was this review helpful?
If you are a fan of short stories, mysteries and thrillers, this book will not disappoint. The short stories in Unloaded 2 do not involve any deaths by gunfire.  However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any fatalities.  Death is presented in a number of ways.  Some fairly traditional and others are inventive and unusual – to say the least!  

I applaud the authors, some well-known and popular writers while others are making their writing debuts, for giving their time and talent to such a worthy cause.  The increase in gun violence in our country is well-documented.  Proceeds from the sales of Unloaded will benefit the nonprofit States United To Prevent Gun Violence; an organization that supports reasonable gun laws. 

This is not an anti-gun book.  Rather, it is a collection of crime stories that are told without the mention of a gun.  The stories are entertaining, original and while you may recognize some favorite authors, you’ll also be introduced to some new names.  It’s a great opportunity to discover new authors and also reconnect with some old favorites. 

Many thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review
Was this review helpful?
Great group of stories. My favorite thing about anthologies is getting stories by favorite authors, and discovering new authors.  Powerful and important stories. We need more books like this.
Was this review helpful?
“Unloaded 2” is the second volume of short stories, humorous, horrifying, and all accomplished without guns. Eric Beetner has assembled this collection of stories with all the crime and suspense mystery readers have come to expect, animals, invalids, neighbors, and magic, however, the tragedy, murder, and mayhem all happen without  guns.
These stories contain all thrilling action and suspense that readers know and love about  crime stories, but doing this without guns results in some creative leaps from writers. The tales are scary, thought provoking, questioning, and downright creepy. If you are not afraid of  farmland, rivers, zoo animals, everything Vegas, your neighbors, your relatives, and Christmas, you will be by the time you are finished reading.
 The advantage of an anthology such as “Unloaded 2” is that I can finish an entire story in one sitting, while waiting for an appointment, or when I just need a quick break from the stress of the day. Be advised however, just like “Unloaded Volume 1,” these are not cute little “feel-good” stories; they compelling and scary. Once you start one, you will not be able to stop until you are finished. It is a good thing they are short.
 I received a copy of “Unloaded” (volume 2) from Down and Out Books, Eric Beetner, and NetGalley. I love these collections, and I hope there will be more.
Was this review helpful?
There might not be any guns, but there is plenty of death...

Down and Out Books and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 16th.

Here's a list of authors:
Chris Holm, Laura McHugh, James Ziskin, Steve Cavanaugh, Terry Shames, Dave White, Bill Crider, Alex Segura, Dana King, James R. Tuck, Kris Calvin, Andrew Case, Jay Stringer, Jon McGoran, Lori Rader-Day, Michael Kardos, Josh Stallings, John Rector, Lili White, Nick Kolakowski, Scott Loring Sanders, E.A. Amar, Sara Paretsky, and Eric Beetner.
These are mean stories of power and greed grinding out the weak.  Spouses and lovers die with no remorse.  Those who fail their jobs don't get another chance.  This is a dog eat dog world.

There is no happy ever after here.  Some of the victims were pathetic, some deserved what they got.

I was glad to reach the end and gather my breath.  This not a fun read, you're warned.
Was this review helpful?
As good as the first collection. Down and Out books should make Unloaded an annual tradition.
My review of volume one applies perfectly again in this one.

A more than important collection of shorts that takes on the issues about gun violence.

A very refreshing way to show that writing without guns is as good, even better, than your traditional clichéed crime novel where everything is settled with a bullet or two.

Will definitely recommand to everyone who's into crime stories.
Was this review helpful?
This anthology doesn't match the quality of the first Unloaded. Still, there are some really good stories. I make the same recommendation as I did for Unloaded.  Skip the introduction until after you read the stories. The stories are worth reading regardless of the political rhetoric. People have bullied, injured, tortured and murdered long before the invention of guns. These stories reflect that.
Was this review helpful?