Compiled by the editor/publisher (Chizmar) and associate editor (Schafer) of the acclaimed dark mystery/horror magazine Cemetery Dance, this showcase anthology, a mix of crime and horror, presents 20 original stories by the sort of edgy, often very talented writers published in that magazine. Jack Ketchum leads off with "Megan's Law," a clever tale with a slap of an ending, about a child molester moving into town. David Schow is next, writing about a porn star compelled to perform increasingly alienating sex acts; despite graphic language and distasteful subject matter, the story is oddly touching. There's a hint of vampirism in George Clayton Johnson's "The Monstering Kind," but supernatural horror arrives in full force with Peter Crowther's black magic-themed "Dark Times," a dandy tale with classic overtones--and, appealingly, a geriatric protagonist. Not every entry is up to snuff. Christa Faust's "Head," about a whore mortally addicted to a new drug, is seriously overwritten, and Joe R. Lansdale's "Death by Chili" is a toss-away that reads as if it were doodled while shaving. For the most part, though, this is an exciting anthology featuring some of the most innovative talent around, from Ed Gorman, Douglas Clegg and Norman Partridge to Ray Garton, David B. Silva and Richard Laymon (the sly and nasty "Choppie," about a camping trip in peril, is one of his best stories in years). Anyone interested in the darker corners of genre lit should read this book. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.