THE FIRST CUT - Scarlet Stiletto Award Winners, edited by Lindy Cameron
Scarlet Stiletto The First Cut presents a superb collection of spine-chilling crime fiction stories culled from the annual Scarlet Stiletto Awards hosted by Sisters in Crime Australia.
You’ll find the whole gamut from murder and mayhem to police procedurals and crime in verse. Some will have your blood running cold, some will raise gooseflesh, and others will make you laugh – but all will have you on the edge of your seat, and wanting more.
Getting to generate the ebooks for Clan Destine Press has its advantages. Not the least of which is the "checking" phase which basically is code for a good read. And, despite this being my second reading of THE FIRST CUT, it was a very good read.
For the past 18 years the Australian Sisters in Crime have been awarding a range of prizes for short stories (the categories have shifted around over the years), and THE FIRST CUT was the first time that many of the prize winners were compiled into a single volume and published. (The current Clan Destine version is new edition).
It's a worthwhile collection to read for the sake of the stories included, as well as to discover some "name" authors who have since gone on to get books published, or have felt that they got a real kickstart from the Scarlet Stiletto Awards. You'll find stories here from some authors you may recognise (Tara Moss and Cate Kennedy for example), and some authors who have gone on to have books published (Liz Filleul and Josephine Pennicott come to mind immediately). This is a great way to find upcoming authors who are writing at the same standard!
One of the interesting things about THE FIRST CUT is the diversity of subject matters, and the sorts of categories that the stories fall into. Submission rules call for an active woman protagonist, a crime/mystery theme and that the story must be an original, unpublished work - from there there are a range of categories, including Verse, Malice Domestic, Possible Film Treatments and so on.
Every year there are submissions from a range of authors, previous winners, previous participants and brand new writers who give the competition a go. The judging is blind (I was lucky enough to be involved in this year's judging weekend), we have no idea who has written what, and can't find out until all stories have been read, and all deliberations completed and winners finalised.
THE FIRST CUT takes the reader through a wide gambit of styles, subject matters and contexts. There's humorous, twisting, scarey, odd and quite surprising. Given that these are all short stories, the variety is outstanding. As is the writing. Although sometimes it could make you wonder about who you're sharing dinner and a drink with before a Sisters in Crime Monthly event!