Book covers




Price: £8.99 

Bitter Lemon Press


We have almost been here before.  Some short stories by Teresa Solana appeared in an unforgettable collection from Bitter Lemon Press called Crazy Tales Of Blood And Guts.  That collection or edition may have been limited to a Kindle only publication.  Crazy Tales Of Blood And Guts had five twisted tales, and four of them are included in the twelve stories that fill the pages of The First Prehistoric Serial Killer.  This time around the book takes its name from the title of the opening story in the collection.  Interestingly, two of the tales from Crazy Tales of Blood And Guts have been renamed.  The two new titles are plain but refer to important protagonists.  The tale not carried forward to The First Prehistoric Serial Killer was an impressive offering, and there is a clue in this sentence about the title of the missing story.   The short story called The Offering must have a different destiny.   Perhaps Solana is superstitious and a collection of thirteen stories had to be avoided.   

The collection like the individual stories mixes crime and horror.   The mood is playful but the fun is twisted and satisfying.  The four stories from Crazy Tales Of Blood And Guts are just as impressive the second time around. The cross-eyed vampire who is settled in his suburban life retains his appeal.   Life amongst prehistoric serial killers suffers because of the absence of modern technology but in The First Prehistoric Serial Killer the detective is cute and knowing and noir crime meets The Flintstones somewhere around wry religious mumbo jumbo.  

The writing of Solana has supreme style and this alone makes the collection essential.  She is also imaginative and open-minded.  Her villains and psychopaths are everywhere, men and women, the old and the young, the rich and the poor.  All regard territory, status and comfort as important, and in that sense they are like us all.  They are just obliged to act in an extreme manner.  Their behaviour, though, does not weaken the social satire.  Vanity, insecurity, ambition, paranoia and modern trivia prevail.  In Happy Families the ghosts may find relief from immortality in football and TV but they are reluctant to share everlasting existence with others.  Again, like us all, they are caught between the need for novelty and the reassurance of tradition.   I Detest Mozart is about a fastidious psychopath who hates opera.  Metaphors aside the tale slips into whimsy but it can be forgiven because of its originality and audacity.   

All the tales in The First Prehistoric Serial Killer are unusual, witty and disturbing, and deciding whether any are superior is impossible.  The title of the book, though, should attract curiosity.   Solana invites her readers to share lives that are both routine and extreme.   The stories are divided into two sections, and the author suggests we read carefully the stories in the second half of the book in order to understand how they are connected.  This puzzle not only adds to the satisfaction of finding a link between bizarre events but also suggests something about fate and the importance of others.  No more will be said here.  Read the book.

By Howard Jackson