South Florida - all sun, sea, sand and glitz. Or maybe not. This collection of short stories takes a look at the seedier side of life in the Sunshine State, one that most tourists never get a glimpse of.
The book contains five short stories, with some of the same places and characters appearing in more than one, all revealing the lives of bent cops, PIs, strippers and gang members. The collection definitely deserves its "noir" designation! I particularly like the first story, Tropical Wave, where Vaughn has to face forces beyond his control while hunting the woman who has run away with a kilo of weed, and the title story The Backseat Virgin, which relates the reluctant involvement of a PI in a year old murder case and was pretty twisted.
I thought this was a well put together collection with a clear theme running through it. It almost felt like episodes in a series. I didn't particularly feel a connection or empathy with any of the characters but given the length of the stories that's not really surprising (and honestly, I'm not sure I should want to feel a connection with any of the dodgy characters in the stories) Without employing masses of description I still felt like I could imagine the settings and felt drawn in by the writing.
Since I have started looking at short stories I have been amazed by how different they can be, partly influenced by the length. I'm not sure how much I would have enjoyed just one of the stories in isolation but I think putting these stories together in an anthology with the same threads and background running throughout definitely made them stronger as a whole.
Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 4*