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Short Story Saturday Review 004: ‘Clouded Vision’ by Linwood Barclay

03 Mar

Welcome to the Short Story Saturday review slot and the fourth in this series. This week’s is of long short story ‘Clouded Vision’ by Linwood Barclay.

I’d been looking forward to reading this book for a number of reasons (not in any particular order); it’s a Quick Read and I love to devour a book in one sitting (or standing… walking into town and back, in my case), it’s crime genre (my favourite) and it’s by Linwood Barclay. This is the only book of his I own but the Manageress at the Red Cross shop I volunteer at is an avid fan so it’s been near the top of my pile for a while. What better excuse than to read it for a review I’m posting just before heading to the shop. :)

As a good story should, the prologue (‘Setting the Scene’) starts with action, where we’re introduced to Eleanor (Ellie) Garfield whose fate we know by the end of these six-pages. As you would expect, the focus then switches to the family and the lengths they will go to to find their missing wife and mother. One of these routes is a ‘psychic’, Keisha Ceylon, who’s not all she’s cracked (anyone who reads this story please pardon the pun) up to be.

Other characters featured are the husband (Wendell), pregnant daughter (Melissa), the father of her child (Lester), a grown-up child himself, and Keisha’s competition, fellow psychic Winona. All are believable and well-rounded, even those only appearing for a page or more.

We ‘learn’ of the murderer’s identity about half-way through the book, the pace continuing with several more twists until the end. I did guess a couple of them, including the final one, but by then I’d become so attached to the characters that I hadn’t wanted it to end any other way (and it had me clapping!).

Although the Quick Reads series are designed to “engage new or lapsed adult readers”, and as the name would suggest, be quick to read, this story doesn’t hold back. It’s written in third person past tense, covering a few days of a could-be-based-on-real-life situation with a good mix of description and dialogue, long and short sentences keeping the narrative drive.

The book is a mere 96 pages of reasonably large print, equating to (by my very rough calculations) about 10,000 words – ideal for a lunch break or not-so-light relief. :)

Whilst we want books to be our friend, take us by the hand and lead us on a journey, some hold more tightly than others and Linwood, albeit only judged from this one story, certainly has a powerful grip.

Lindwood’s website is http://linwoodbarclay.com, which features this book ‘Clouded Vision’ on the home page. He is on Twitter, Facebook and Amazon amongst other places.

You can read more about the Quick Reads series here.

If you’d like to submit your story (50 to 2,500 words) for review take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with editor and novelist Jennifer Ciotta – the two hundred and ninety-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. And I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org.

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