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Review: Through A Shattered Lens, I Saw by L A Sykes

Chris Leek
Independent Reviewer

You may have seen the name L A Sykes attached to some hard-boiled slices of flash fiction over at Shotgun Honey and a few other places recently. If you have read some of those stories and found yourself thirsting for more, then this could be just what you have been waiting for.
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L A Sykes is a British writer who plumbs the depths of the human condition to bring you stories of desperation, murder and revenge. Through A Shattered Lens, I Saw is his debut collection and includes 22 dark works that take the reader from crumbling, state run institutions to inner city tower blocks and out on to Manchester's mean streets. It is always pleasing to find writers from this side of the pond who know there is more to British crime fiction than Guy Ritchie style cockney chancers.
These are the kind of stories designed to hit hard and leave a lasting impression. The pages are filled with a magnificent cast of suitably sleazy characters, including one very memorable Kurdish hairdresser. There is little in the way of hope or redemption offered to the corrupt cops, burnt out doctors and small time crooks created by L A Sykes. He writes the kind of noir that often ends badly for his protagonists; even Santa Claus gets his ass kicked here. For the rest there is the spiral down towards murder, suicide and madness to be observed and explored.
Short story collections are a great way for up and coming writers to find their audience as they give the reader an opportunity to dip into the author’s world without committing to the long haul of a novel. Through A Shattered Lens, I Saw isn’t a perfect world, but I found it was a place well worth visiting. I also found that L A Sykes knows how to deliver a good, gritty punch of noir.
Unfortunately the publisher is not exactly rolling out the red carpet for readers with the price point. I think that regardless of how good the writing is, and it is consistently good throughout, a price of nearly $8 for an e-book is going to be a tough sell in the current economic climate. But if you're feeling flush, it's a collection that's well worth a look.