Friday, February 8, 2019

Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill

Frank Bill’s 2011 collection of 17 short stories, Crimes in Southern Indiana, is a well-written bag of violent tales from the sparsely populated pockets of that state.

I had heard Bill’s book was brilliant, and it is, but it is also exceedingly dark and brutal.

Each of his stories rings true – unfortunately. Unfortunately because it is hard to think of modern America as still having places where so much ignorance, greed, jealousy, and lust can result in so much carnage.

Some of the stories focus on law enforcement in those areas. One piece is strangely psychological and almost hallucinatory. Another is about a mercy killing that is almost sweet in its sentimentality. Almost, but not quite – the killing is shocking.

The only hopeful thing to remember when reading this collection is these stories take place in several different eras and Indiana is a big state. Chicago is right off the upper west corner of it, and Louisville, Kentucky is right across the river from its southern border. In between are miles and miles of open country and farm land.

Readers picking up this book are in for a bloody ride. Frank Bill’s Crimes in Southern Indiana is noir on steroids.

(For more posts on books, check out Patti Abbott’s blog.)


  1. I'd rather not be reminded of America's dark underbelly that only appears to be getting worse. I'll have to skip this book. It would be more disturbing to me than watching Chicago nightly news.

    But I have to address you penultimate paragraph. I don't think of Indiana as a big state, it's medium-sized; actually fairly small for the Midwest. And I think it has a lot more urban areas than open country and farm land. Joe and I have done a lot of exploring of Indiana on bike, car and foot. All those college cities -- South Bend, Indianapolis, Muncie, Bloomington, Lafayette -- to me they were surprisingly vibrant urban areas. Well, maybe not so much Muncie. ;^) In any case thanks for highlighting a new writer's work centered on a state that probably doesn't get much attention in books or film other than college and high school basketball stories and cliché ideas about "ignorant" Midwesterners. BTW, one of my favorite movies -- BREAKING AWAY -- takes place in Indiana. It does a remarkable job of making Indiana look like a wondrous place - spoiled only by those nasty, cheating, Italian bicycle racers.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. John – Thanks for your comments. Frank Bill’s book is relentless in its violence. I am glad you mentioned BREAKING AWAY. That is my impression of Indiana. I’ve been to Bloomington, where I think it was filmed, and it is a nice college town. I have also driven up to Indianapolis quite a few times as well as all the way up through the state on the way to Chicago. While you do go through quite a lot of open land, you are right, Indiana is not as big many other states. Still, it seems a long haul when you are behind the wheel.
      (Corrected a typo in my earlier comment.)

  2. I try to avoid noir these days, altho it seems to tug at me when I read these FFB reviews. Noir on steroids reminds me of the old True Detective magazines and some of the grisly stories they contained. I shall pass on this book, as well--unless there's a Kindle edition, then I just might take the dare!

  3. Thanks for the warning, Elgin. I think I'll pass--even tho I used to write for True Detective. I'm older now and, I hope, more repulsed by inhumanity.

  4. Elgin, I really enjoyed this one when I read it a few years ago.

  5. Elgin, I like reading such noir fiction, so I'll most certainly seek this out and read it.