The Smoking Gun Sisterhood, by Thad Brown

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“Admiring and respectful celebrations of gun-packing women as kick-butt heroines, for readers of both genders who appreciate heroines of this type.”

The rise of self-publishing has provided an opportunity for authors to distribute their product directly to the public – it’s no longer necessary to have a contract or even a publishing house. This is, frankly, a double-edged sword: just because you can write a book, doesn’t mean you should write a book. But it also offers a better chance to reach the public for niche publications like this, a short-story collection which falls squarely into our wheelhouse, featuring a wide range of action heroines [and at least one action villainess]. Some of the ten titles might help to give you a fairly good idea of what to expect: Biker Angel; Cops and Robbers; Sisters, Dark and Light.

It has a certain throwback ambiance, feeling at times like you’re reading a collection from the sixties than a modern publication. That’s not a criticism, just an observation, and might be partly because the sexual angles present in some stories are far more hinted at than explicit, and partly because there a square-jawed and certain morality present, largely without shades of grey. Brown has a nicely cinematic tone to his writing – it’s very easy to visualize proceedings in my mind’s eye as they unfolded, and the three entries mentioned above would all have potential as movies. My favorite was probably Sisters, Dark and Light, which pits an FBI agent against a kidnapper whose sadistic streak is frankly disturbing. I also enjoyed the two Capta and the Cop stories, set in the same universe, yet heading in opposite directions.

Perhaps my main criticism is a couple of the stories feel in need of expansion, almost like they were trailers more than features, albeit for movies that I’d still want to say. I did notice a few typos, though any regular readers here will know I’m hardly anyone to complain, and the packaging is too bland – it’s the kind of collection that is crying out for a pulp-styled illustration on the front. Otherwise, it certainly comes recommended to action heroine fans. There’s plenty of variety in scenarios, and even the least of the tales is still fun to read. I think the overall attitude of the stories is what makes them work: it’s the author who described them with the quote in the ‘brief’ section of the header. Having read the book, I’d say it’s perhaps a little po-faced (they’re more entertaining than that makes them sound!), but it’s not far from the mark. If you enjoy this site, I think you’ll get a kick out of these tales.

Update: August 2010. Thad tells me there is now a new edition, which has all the typos corrected, as well as having page numbers, a table of contents, and even has the messed-up line breaks in the preface fixed. He adds, “I wasn’t able to do a cover with a pulp-style illustration that you said it cried out for; I’d wanted to import Rich’s biker picture that inspired “Biker Angel,” but Lulu’s software just wouldn’t cooperate! I did install a different cover image, a smoking revolver on a russet -sort of dried-blood-colored-background, which I thought was pretty cool.”

Update: December 2013. After one regular publishing deal fell through, the last I heard from Thad was that the collection “has now been accepted for publication by Pro Se Productions” and “should be available for purchase in both paperback and e-book formats sometime around mid-2013.” Checking their site, no sign at this point.

Update: April 2014. A little delayed, but we’re delighted to announce the book is now available through Amazon. You may recognize the quote. :)

Update: November 2014. It’s now available in e-form on Kindle, for only $2.99!

[The opening of one of the stories, Cops and Robbers, can be found here, as a taster for the book. 

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