All Of Them To Burn: Beau Johnson
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I have to admit, I’m not a ‘crime fiction’ reader. I don’t seek it out, nor do I typically get excited when I read the synopsis’ etc. It’s odd for me because I’ve really come to discover that some of my fav author’s books are bread-and-butter crime fiction and while I read this, I read a novella from HP Newquist that was 100% crime fiction with a large smattering of psychological thriller stamped throughout.
So, how am I here? How did we arrive at me reading a collection of crime stories by fellow Canuck, Beau Johnson. Well; A) Beau Johnson – fellow Canuck. We need to support each other where we can. B) My buddy Richard Gerlach kept raving to me about his writing. C) Beau’s been kind to me, so I wanted to dive in and discover his work.
You’ve probably seen Beau on Twitter, or even Tik Tok. He’s always supporting people, telling jerks to take a hike, and lately (and much to my dismay!) been sharing videos of himself kicking books on the Tok. Do we call it the Tok? I’m old and white, I don’t know.
What I liked: The majority of the stories follow one, Bishop Rider, a man who takes matters into his own hands and delivers his own brand of justice.
Each story felt like I was reading it in an alley, rain pelting down from above while in the distance, police sirens could be heard, growing closer and closer with each paragraph read. Johnson does a fantastic job of crafting short stories that rely as much on atmosphere as they do what actually happens. Some of the stories are snippets, brief interludes in the ongoing life of Rider and his buddy. Most are flash fiction pieces that move a narrative, even if that narrative is not told in a typical, beginning to end fashion.
The non-Rider stories were also fun, even if they seemed to be overshadowed by the Rider stories.
What I didn’t like: As much as there is an author’s note at the front and I knew going in beforehand, I still struggled with the out-of-order idea of the Rider stories. I think it would’ve been better to have found an intro story to know a bit about him going in, as I spent a lot of time trying to picture him in my head and even relate to his motives. I don’t believe this is the first collection with Rider stories, so that may be more on me than the book itself for not doing my due diligence and beginning where I should’ve.
Why you should buy this: Johnson’s done a fantastic job of creating quick, tension-filled pieces that showcase a character that is primed to take vengeance and ask no questions. I think people would really like the gritty, dark atmosphere. Rider is a character you’ll love AND hate and wonder about and worry about and question and because of that, Johnson has really delivered a remarkable main character who is both good and evil at once.
All Of Them To Burn
Darkness is an attribute most of us rally against. It can consume. It can achieve. But if we so choose, it can also be held at bay. Enter Bishop Rider and the evil he’s chosen to obliterate since his family is taken from him. Operating outside the law, circumventing a system beyond repair, Bishop stalks this darkness the only way he knows how. Not only because these men deserve what he’s become, but because of a message he attempted to create has come back to haunt him, now, after all these years. It’s this story, along with other, unconnected tales that populate All of them to Burn.
Come, meet Rider for the first time. Come, meet Rider for the last time.
Come, watch the darkness burn.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak fiction.
Steve is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve has appeared alongside some of Horror’s heaviest hitters (Tim Lebbon, Gemma Amor, Adrian J. Walker, Ramsey Campbell) in some fantastic anthologies.
He is an active member of the HWA.
He is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife and son.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
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You can visit Steve’s Official website here