"Midnight Hour" A Chilling Anthology of Crime Fiction Edited by Abby L. Vandiver: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa 

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

Let’s Do It…Together!

Anthologies are my favorite way to read stories from authors I already enjoy while at the same time being introduced to work from authors I have yet to experience. From holiday-themed or clever detectives to romantic highlanders or mysteries, authors put their best “pen” forward and create short stories. Abby L. Vandiver, author of two of my favorite series Logan Dickerson and Romaine Wilder, has gathered together twenty authors from Crime Writers of Color and challenged them to write a “chilling crime” short perfect for the dark, “midnight hour” found only in the mind.

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Image Source Crooked Lane
Midnight Hour
Earns 5/5 Nail-biting, Leave-the-Lights-On Entertainment!

Each short tale is set near the midnight hour offering an exciting, sometimes chilling, view of the dark side of humanity. Revenge, greed, power, self-defense, or in some cases, defense of others spurs on the characters’ motives. Midnight provides the perfect cover, but Karma is often waiting in the shadows to serve some of its own justice. The authors have varied takes on crime fiction: some female, others male, some in the city, others on a country road, some here in the States, others in far away cultures, some planned, others related to opportunity, some nail-biting, others tear-jerking, and some new, others with characters from their personal work. Each do, however, possess an entertaining writing style with descriptive language to set the environment and mood and dialogue providing quick insight into diverse personalities. Despite the twenty different authors, the book was excellent, moving well between compelling dramas and keeping me engaged and… sleeping with the lights on.

Lucky Thirteen by Tracy Clark—It’s New Years Eve in a town darkened by the closure of the local factory, and Henry Pearse is midst his horrible memories of his mother’s disapproval and emotional abuse. The doorbell rings heralding a nearing of midnight, a new year, and…fear! (Gasp! Shocking twist!)

Skin by David Heska Wanbli Weiden—Virgil, known on the Rez for his rough justice when fed and tribal authorities fail, retired his iron fist after his nephew had a unfair run in with the law, but his lawyer friend asks a favor that is a bit “extrajudicial.” Steal a centuries-old book. (Seriously justified!)

The Bridge by Abby L. Vandiver—Cy had come into town with the personal agenda to set things right with family when meeting Evie’s acquaintance. Desperate, Evie feels she has no options to free herself from her husband, bar one…murder. But, interests collide and the end on the bridge will be justice. (“Oh, wow!” ending.)

Dead Men Tell No Tales by Callie Browning—Crawling out of poverty and leaving several victims in her wake, her landing in the Prime Minister’s life is bittersweet. The newly installed PM had no intention of making Vivian’s life filled with luxury and riches, but she has more self-serving intentions. (Thank you karma!)

Doc’s at Midnight by Richie Narvaez—Four decades later, two people, Chino and Maria, awkwardly reunite in the shadow of blackmail and murder. A common theft intervenes complicating a serious matter for which Chino has a plan. (Forgiveness. Some language not easily translated in context. Clever nod to West Side Story.)

Nighthawks by Frankie Y. Bailey—It’s 1949. Jo Radcliffe lands in a ditch due to her poor attempt to avoid a deer, but she makes her way to a diner nearby only to wind up in the middle of a deadly robbery. Identity issues, true motives, and a parrot complicate the investigation. (Engaging.)

The Search for Eric Garcia by E. A. Aymar—The “options” are clear: A or B. Eric Garcia took your wife from you, and making him pay for that is important, but where is Eric? The search provides you time to reflect on how horrible life had become. The options are clear: A or B. (Emotional. Clever style.)

The Vermeer Conspiracy by V. M. Burns—Jasper Bland has arrived to see Mr. August Merriweather, a man who his grandfather would call “one of the beautiful people” and the man who ruined his life. Failed artist turned art restorer turned art detective. (Insightful flashbacks; an “I didn’t see that coming” ending.)

Midnight Confidential by Delia C. Pitts—Tubby was her confidential informant having been a key factor in her meteoric rise to the rank of detective. However, he also was too knowledgeable, if not directly useful, in her enterprising enterprise…and he’s been arrested! (Surprise twist to the character. Clever.)

Chefs by Faye Snowden—Johnny had always been in love with Anna all through culinary school, but it had been his best friend Oscar who married her. Now, they feared Oscar knew of their torrid affair, and the anger they were sure would follow. (Intriguing solution.)

Midnight Escapade by Jennifer Chow—It’s a reunion, of sorts, between two high school friends, Amanda and Mandy, and what better way to reconnect than a midnight adventure: a “unique and trendy” escape room challenge. But, it’s the past that makes this adventure a nightmare. (Clever. Surprise ending.)

Murderers’ Feast by H-C Chan—John Manley has more enemies than any man should accumulate in one life time: from ensnaring several in costly investments and discarding girlfriends, complicity in deadly addictions to contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Did someone call “karma”? (Clever. Descriptive.)

The Diamond Vanishes by Gigi Pandian—A séance at midnight? Yes, and Sanjay, the “Hindi Houdini,” hopes to make this “sham spook session” the chilling experience the hostess has hired him to create. But, something is niggling him. A book. A ghost. Tales of a cursed diamond. A missing person. (Creative. Jaya Jones fun.)

Cape May Murders by Tina Kashian—Whispering in the hallway, then a thump. Sona’s roommate, Priya, is missing. This mom’s weekend in a ‘what many think’ is a haunted B&B has turned nightmarish with a dead body and Priya the prime suspect. (Such an engaging cozy.)

Change of Plans by Elizabeth Wilkerson—For Kamilah, a good year relied heavily on having the perfect planner, but perfect was turning out to be hard to find and the new year is only hours away. Her efforts seemed to have results, but not the ones she expected for her new year. (So creative, and in some way, I identify.)

The Black Widow of Oshogbo by Stella Oni—PI Lara had been called into the lab to get details on the dead man on the gurney. Reason? It was the third ritual killing in three weeks. Will there be more? (Compelling.)

The Witching Hour by Marla Bradeen—A lot of things have happened to Joan Nguyen during the witching hour, the time between midnight and one: a cheating boyfriend discovered, her father’s death, and a revelation about her family that is not only exciting, but distasteful and shocking. (Clever karmic twist.)

In the Matter of Mabel and Bobby Jefferson by Christopher Chambers—Working at an insurance call center may be “hell,” made worse by a supervisor named “Dante” and a client demanding minutes before midnight, minutes before his wife’s insurance runs out, to have a quick renew. (Engaging twist.)

The Night the Internet Died by Rhonda Crowder—Samia has the education and the credentials to lead a major cybersecurity firm, but past racially-motivated experiences led to a lack real confidence in her abilities and rise to the top. However, when the internet goes down, who you gonna call? (“Chilling” thought.)

Mata Hambre by Raquel V. Reyes—It’s a late-night televised cooking contest. Pugi is dressed to the nines ready to support one of the contestants, her ex-boyfriend, whose current girlfriend is present, who herself has someone vying for her affections. A “quadrangle” of trouble. (Entertaining. Spanish words not easily translated in context.)


Crime Writers of Color is a group of over 300 of today and tomorrow’s crime writers of color. It was founded by award winning authors Walter Mosley, Gigi Pandian, and Kellye Garrett in June of 2018. They have a Crime Writers of Color Coming Attractions column in KRL.

Facebook—Crime Writers of Color

Website—Crime Writers of Color

Podcasts—Crime Writers of Color

Midnight Hour Author Links:

Abby L. Vandiver, Jennifer J. Chow, Tracy Clark, H. C. Chan, Christopher Chambers, Richie Narvaez, Frankie Y. Bailey, E. A. Aymar, Faye Snowden, Tina Kashian, Rhonda Crowder, V. M. Burns, Raquel V. Reyes, Callie Browning, Elizabeth Wilkerson, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Stella Oni, Gigi Pandian, Delia C. Pitts, Marla Bradeen.

To enter to win a copy of Midnight Hour, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "hour,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 11, 2021. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. If entering via email please include your mailing address so if you win we can get it sent right out to you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. 

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode goes up next week.

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Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Some new to me authors and some old favorites. I enjoy these anthologies.

  2. Sounds like a terrific noir anthology. I'd love to have a copy. Thanks. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  3. Love anthologies. Great way to discover new authors. Thanks for the chance.

  4. Sounds like a great collection of reads! tWarner419@aol.com


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