When travelling to and from EasterCon 2007, and during lunch, I finally took time to read CrimeWave 9. It's understated design may well be the best CW Andy Cox did, and the stories are -- again -- phenomenal.
I actually stumbled upon CrimeWave via The Third Alternative: I bought an issue of TTA, liked it, subscribed and bought back issues, and subsequently found that Andy was also publishing this thing called CrimeWave. Now crime stories weren't really to my taste, and the crime genre evoked visions of numerous clichés, from closed-room murder mysteries to pedantic detectives to hardboiled tough guys and what-have-you. I mean, with the leading magazines in the field being called 'Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine' and 'Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine', well, how unimaginative can you get?
Still, TTA was good, very good, so I decided to try out one issue of CW. I started reading it with no particular high expectations (rather the contrary), but the first three stories completely blew me away. In retrospect this was because I subconsciously expected the same old, cliche-ridden crime stories. CrimeWave 5 demolished all my preconceptions about crime fiction. All the stories were dark, gritty, visceral without reverting to gore, fresh, sharply written with a very modern sensibility.
I subscribed and bought all the back issues. Quality-wise, CrimeWave 4 and CrimeWave 7 (pictured above: I couldn't find an image of CrimeWave 5 on the net) are probably better, but number 5 will always have a special place in my heart as it so spectacularly shattered my prejudices.
The thing with the CrimeWave series is that Andy Cox only releases a new one when he has enough top quality stories, meaning only about one per year is released. But when it comes out: joy, pure joy!
So check it out!