The Transformation of Buzzcut Billy: A Review

Continuing our dive into Colin Conway’s Backroads Bobby and his Friends, Susan Wingate brings us the story of an ass kicking lady and a tough guy wannabe in The Transformation of Buzzcut Billy. Zaine Walker knows exactly who her daddy is, and her greatest wish is to be the reason for his exodus from this world. On her way to see Handbrake Hardy Frye, she stops for a burger and that’s where things go awry.

This short story is an entertaining diversion from your day. It doesn’t have the tension of some of the other stories but that doesn’t detract from the power of Zaine Walker’s character. She is a determined woman with a ton of self-confidence that we learn is well earned.

Larry the Bag Man Tries to Set Things Right: A Review

It is Spencer Fleury’s turn in Colin Conway’s Back Road Bobby and His Friends 509 crim anthology. Handbrake Hardy Fry may be driving into the sunset, but he did a lot of damage on his way out. Lawrence Clyde Fretwell, aka Larry the Bag Man, was part of the collateral damage. His father had worked with Handbrake and Larry still holds the legendary driver responsible for his father’s death. He’s going to set this right before the old man is gone…in a school bus.

I’m giving this one a solid four stars. This unpredictable story has a lot to offer. Larry isn’t exactly lovable but you feel for the guy. First, he’s driver whose ankle is pinned together so he can drive a school bus but not a getaway car. Second, the kids he drives are jerks! Larry is tenacious, both in his resolute belief that Handbrake is responsible for his father’s absence from his childhood and in his determination to not make it easy for the cops. Run, Larry! Run!

Pick up Back Road Bobby and His Friends from Amazon and your other favorite book stores

Giddy Up Done Gone: A Review

Driver Giddy Up Derrick is trying to live up to the expectations her grandfather set. The only problem is her uncles won’t let her out from behind the reception desk. When the legendary Handbrake Hardy Frye is rumored to be on his deathbed, Giddy Up decides to make the trip to pay respects. Two eighteen year old girls, 1,800 miles, and enough ramen for a week. What could possibly go wrong?

The next story in Colin Conway’s Back Road Bobby and His Friends belongs to me. I thought about skipping this one. You know, recusing myself, and then decided nahh.

This story is has a different tone than the preceding episodes. Giddy Up and her friends Angel and Marcella deal with some grown up problems. Giddy Up isn’t given the chance to live up to her potential simply because she was born female. Angel is a domestic violence victim. First by her step-father, then by her boyfriend. Marcella is an illegal immigrant kidnapped from her family and forced into the sex trade. Real and heavy stuff. Giddy Up and Angel live dangerously by deciding to make the trek to Spokane. Along the way, they save Marcella from the men holding her.

Is this story for you? If you like darker stories, then probably not. It wouldn’t surprise me if you found Giddy Up and her friends silly. If you like dark stories with the potential of a happy ending, then yes, I think you’d enjoy the antics of three girls ready to take on the world.

Wobble Wheel Wooley’s End of the Road: A Review

In Trey Barker’s contribution to Colin Conway’s Back Road Bobby and His Friends, Jesse is ready to leave the world behind and live off the grid. But to do that, he needs some cash. A carefully placed question or two connects him with Wobble Wheel Wooley, a man on a quest for a pile of money hidden by Handbrake Hardy.

This call-and-answer style story has two men whose paths become crossed. Jesse isn’t fussy about where his next pay day comes from, just that it comes. Wobble Wheel is on a Coronado quest for the mother of all payouts. Unpredictable, Wobble Wheel drives the story, dragging Jesse along for the right. A clean, straight-forward story, I give this 4 stars.

Robbing Banks with Gator Wilson: A Review

In Dave Zeltserman’s contribution to Colin Conway’s Back Road Bobby and his Friends, Jack “Gator” Wilson is living a simple life after doing time for his role in a horse track robbery. Billy Slake finds him, plying him with coffee, donuts, and an offer too good to be true.

And you know what they say about offers too good to be true.

This straightforward story is a fast, clean read. A two-character story, the play between Gator and Billy Slake rings true as anyone knows who has followed a friend into a misadventure. A solid read at three stars.

Card Shark Molly’s Last Hand: A Review

The Nikki Dolson’s Card Shark Molly’s Last Hand is the second story in Back Roads Bobby and His Friends, Colin Conway’s last edition to the 509 Crime Anthology. Molly is picking up a month’s worth of cash in one night by working as a dealer in a very private, pop-up poker game. The crowd is rough but the pot is big and Molly has plans for her share of the take. She is working the crowd as she makes the flop: a pair of eights and an ace. More money is thrown on the table. Molly flips the next card, another ace. The deadman’s hand, she realizes. And that’s went everything goes to hell.

Card Shark Molly’s Last Hand is one of those stories that slaps you in the face if you get so cocky as to assume where it is going. Nikki does a great job of dragging you through a litany of emotions – pride, fear, anger, anguish, more anger – all in twenty-one pages. It is a strong example of short story writing, made more potent by being in the hard crime genre. A 5-star review. Read this one if you are a fan of stories that keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Escape of Jimmy the Saint: A Review

The Escape of Jimmy the Saint by Frank Zafiro is the first story in Colin Conway’s BACK ROAD BOBBY AND HIS FRIENDS, a 509 Crime Anthology. Jimmy “the Saint” Sauntiago loves his 1969 Chevelle, loves to drives, loves his girlfriend…well, maybe not the last one so much. She’s pressuring him to give up his first two loves and settle down. Jimmy’s life is driving and outsmarting, outmaneuvering, and plain old out driving Deputy Shiple. That man HATES Jimmy. Then Jimmy learns Handbrake Hardy Frye, the driving legend, is making his exodus from this world (the anthology’s tie that binds). Instead of delivering his current package to his customer, Jimmy decides to take it to Handbrake, a gift befitting a legend.

This short story has all the hallmarks of a Frank Zafiro tale. The hero isn’t quite good, the story isn’t quite simple, and the ending has you reading it twice. Like all Frank’s stories, this one is for readers who prefer the gray, where life isn’t all roses and sunshine, but it’s not so bleak that there isn’t hope. Go in with an open mind, ’cause you aren’t going to guess where this one is going.

5 stars!

photo credit: American Dream Machines

One of Back Road Bobby’s Friends

Colin Conway has just released the newest anthology of his 509 universe, Back Road Bobby and his Friends. I am thrilled to have written a story for this collection titled Giddy Up Done Gone. My story is about something everyone wants but noone can buy: respect. Giddy Up is eighteen and grew up in her grandparents loving home. With her grandsparents now deceased, her family had very modest expectations for her life. In a family of mechanics and car junkies, being female kept her out of the pits. I suppose this is a coming-of-age story, but it didn’t feel like it when I was writing. It has the hallmarks of a TG Wolff story-strong characters, humor, and a healthy dose of rule breaking. Check out all the wide and varying stories in this newest edition to the 509 universe.