Killer, Come Back to Me: The Crime Stories of Ray Bradbury
By Ray Bradbury
Illustrations by: Robert Gale & Deena So’Oteh
Published by: Hard Case Crime
“He found Juke lying in a chemical bath. Red chemical from his own body where a knife had dug out his dreams and his living and his talking forever and spread it around in a scarlet lake.”
-From ‘Yesterday I Lived!’
Hard Case Crime celebrates the 100th birthday of Ray Bradbury in grand fashion in Killer, Come Back to Me. A new collection assembling the crime/pulp fiction of the literary giant. Some seeing print for the first time.
While that’s a selling point all its own, Killer, Come Back to Me’s stories reveal a new side of Ray Bradbury. Ranging across his entire career but focused on his early days, the stories serve as grim windows into an entire new section of the author we studied in middle school.
Some have the poeticism and high ideas that we expect from Bradbury. However, just as many are shocking, grimly funny, and oddly conceptual. Especially for what was crime fiction of the ’40s and ’50s.
Ultimately, this allows the collection to read beautifully. While delivering near-constant surprises. Both in terms of tone and plots. One second you’re reading about a man who his future self visits, pleading with his counterpart to avoid killing his wife, whom his past self adores (“A Touch of Petulance”).
The very next, a circus troupe is rocked by a grisly murder of one of its freaks (“Corpse Carnival”). Then a serial killer stalks young, single women through the night with a knack for theatricality (“The Whole Town’s Sleeping” & “Midnight, in the Month of June”).
Even more miraculously? Some are horror outright! But, punctuated with Bradbury’s trademark lyricism.
For example, “The Screaming Woman.” In which a 10-year-old girl witnesses a murder. And can only articulate it in the language of a child. Additionally, “And So Died Riabouchinska.” Which details the uncomfortably close relationship between a ventriloquist, his wife, and a brand new dummy. That seems to have a life all its own.
And even better, most of Killer, Come Back to Me’s darkest delights are still yet to be revealed! Contained within a gorgeous hardcover collection, and complete with a wonderful gold inlaid stamp on the inside cover and a thin silk ribbon bookmark. They are critically keeping Hard Case Crime’s reputation for grand production values alive and well in this new collection.
To put it another way, Killer, Come Back to Me is a fascinating, grandly entertaining new addition to bookshelves. On the one hand, it’s steeped in the beautiful prose and high concepts readers expect from Ray Bradbury. But chiefly, this new collection of rarities and “b-sides” brings to light a whole new facet of a master. Perfect for reading in the dark.