Witnesses for the Dead: Stories

Soho Crime. Nov. 2022. 312p. ed. by Gary Phillips & Gar Anthony Haywood. ISBN 9781641293983. $27.95. M
The stories in this collection are inspired by Darnella Frazier’s actions in recording George Floyd’s murder. They feature characters who observe a crime, then take the initiative to see that the guilty are punished, and the victim receives justice. Usually the stories feature ordinary people who witness the crime in the course of their daily lives. Editors Haywood and Phillips are two of the authors included in the collection. In Haywood’s “On Gossamer Wings,” the police have to determine if a jumper’s death was murder or suicide. Phillips’s story, “Spiders and Fly,” confronts police corruption. Alex Segura’s series character, sports reporter Pete Fernandez, fails to get a basketball story, but witnesses a hit-and-run in “Post-Game.” There are other stories that stand out, by authors Sarah M. Chen, Pamela Samuels Young, Cara Black, and Darrell James.
VERDICT A representative collection of authors are included, featuring intriguing stories with settings as varied as a detention center for immigrants to occupied Paris in 1941. The premise is unusual for a crime collection, with characters who witness a crime, and sometimes take justice into their own hands. Royalties go to the Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops.
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