Book Review : Killing Malmon (2017)
Pre-Order KILLING MALMON here (out on October 19)
I know what you're going to ask: who the hell is Dan Malmon? Some of you know who he is, but I suspect the majority of you have no idea. Short answer, he's a long-time book reviewer for Crimespree Magazine. Killing Malmon was originally a short story contest held on their website and the idea has been revived, expanded and given its own anthology at one condition: that the profits are given multiple sclerosis research, a disease Dan's wife, co-reviewer and alpha Kate Hackbarth Malmon is suffering from. I thought the concept was immensely amusing. Kill Dan over and over and over for a good cause. Did the execution live up to it? Let's find out.
The first question that needs answering is: why should you read a short story anthology about the multiple deaths of a Minnesotan book critic? It's a valid concern. What makes Dan Malmon worth writing about is walking contradiction he is. He's a domestic living God who professes his love for Kit-Kat chocolate bars, his disdain of hugs and a love for baseball that almost equals my obsession with hoops on social media and on the other, he's an irredeemable escapist who enjoys living vicariously though comic books, private detectives and other fictional characters. Dan Malmon isn't bound to this world, but lives in dozens of parallel dimensions so the possibilities of meeting his own demise in these imaginary worlds are endless.
And how can you quantify what's a good and what's a bad Killing Malmon story? Glad you asked. I've developed my own theory on that. The more a story would feature these two sides of Dan Malmon's personality I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the more I'd enjoy it. I call it "Malmonitude." The story with the highest Malmonitude to me was Don't Want the World to Burn, by Dave White which offered a mix between Malmon's comic book obsession and a hilarious secret agent fantasy. Russian Roulette by Thomas Pluck also hit the nail on the head, using Dan Malmon's real life love of food to pit him in a deadly blood feud. The two stories were hilarious and scored high on the Malmonitude charts, making them complete success. They're worth the entry price alone.
What else is worth checking out in Killing Malmon? I had a great time with the understated and uncomfortably realistic The Last Issue, by Jeff Macfee. The tone really clashed with the over-the-top nature of most story and therefore it wins the prize of the demise Dan Malmon is most likely to meet for real. Brad Parks' Malmon's Last Moments are a tremendous opener for the collection, going deep into fantasy land and portraying Dan and Kate Malmon as this American Sweetheart athlete couple. Danny Gardner's Straight Fire and Todd Robinson's Studs Winslow and the Karate Island of Emperor Malmon also caught my attention for featuring an appropriate to overwhelming amount of Malmonitude.
It is my understanding that Killing Malmon was meant to be inclusive and that whoever wanted to participate could submit, but some short stories in there barely feature the guy. This was a problem to me because if I invest time into something called Killing Malmon with Dan Malmon's face and a noose on the cover, I'm expecting him to be heavily featured and that he meets his demise in new and groundbreaking ways. It's not always the case here but don't let that turn you off from reading Killing Malmon. The beauty with anthologies is that you can skip what you don't care about. This one is particularly well formated in that regard with links to the table of content after every story. Fight MS, read about the recurrent demise of a geeky guy, be entertained. What's not to like?