Today’s book review of a crime short story collection is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.
In a Word: Murder
This collection is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/In-Word-Murder-An-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00GFXNZYE and http://www.amazon.com/In-Word-Murder-An-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00GFXNZYE.
After a tribute introduction and teasers of the nine stories (which I didn’t read because I didn’t want them spoiled), we have the first story, The Agency by Pamela Griffiths. Apart from the occasional cliché (and incorrect dialogue punctuation), it’s an interesting story. We have the body early on but then it goes rather slow for a short story, with the sort of detail you’d have in chapter three or four of a novel (a lot of character information rather than plot) which is fine where you’ve already got the reader hooked. I did wonder how the parts were connected but then it was revealed (in a lot of ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’) and although it felt more like the synopsis of a novel, I enjoyed the story and a great last line.
The second story of the collection is The Story by Paula K. Randall and it takes us straight into the conflict which ends abruptly as the reveal of the story within a story is played to us. I love stories about writers and this character sells about as few eBooks as I do. 🙂 I guessed the ending of this short piece but enjoyed it all the same.
The Million Seller by Margot Kinberg features a writer who will hopefully live up to the title (isn’t that what we all want?) and after a threat to part ways with his publisher, his contact has ways of ensuring his loyalty.
The next story is Hollywood Coverup by Jane Risdon. We start with the action; a burglar in the midst of a raid at a publisher’s (did I say I loved writing about writing?). There’s then the repercussions of a lost manuscript, its content and a faulty computer. It’s a complicated but clever tale with an ending, I’m sure, few would guess.
A Beach Report by Myrtle Clover by Elizabeth S. Craig is a story of a far from ordinary beach trip, unbelieving son, a mysterious tattooed red-head, and an Einstein-white-haired octogenarian (my favourite character). This is one of the shortest stories so far and my favourite.
The title ‘La Lotte’ in Sarah Ward’s story is the name of a restaurant, a food theme that follows on nicely from the previous piece and the setting of the ‘crime’. I love the line ‘He glanced at the door as if willing for a more desirable customer to enter.’ My only picks are that men have blond hair not blonde, some incorrect punctuation (and other editing issues) in places, and too many ‘Well’s at the beginning of sentences (easily done… as it also appears in Martin Edwards’ story).
The In-Box by Margot Kinberg, via a series of emails, is a story about a writer’s inability to accept the rejection of her manuscript. The story then has a Penguin / Author Solutions merger-type subplot followed by a murder. Although the emails were short, I found them a little confusing until the story continues in standard prose. Again there are minor editing issues (for example, there’s no reason for a ‘ before the word photo, and Tamara becomes Tamera in one instance) and unfortunately the ending didn’t gel for me, despite me going back through the story and checking where the ‘line’ appeared.
Martin Edwards’ ‘The Killing of Captain Hastings’ immediately made me think of Poirot so I looked forward to reading the connection. This story features another of my favourite phrases: ‘anxiety embedded in her DNA’ and featured a technophobic author dreading being interviewed by Doctor Milo Grindley and resistant, albeit less so, of the aforementioned ‘Captain Hastings’. The festival itself is a hive of activity (as they are in real life) and the events that follow, and the reveal, are super.
Jane Risdon returns, and concludes the collection, with ‘Dreamer’, and knowing Jane as I do (never met in person but plenty of online camaraderie, I’m not surprised that it’s set within the music industry. Apart from more male blonde, too many ‘Well’s, characters beginning with the same letters (J / M) and rogue punctuation, it’s an engaging story with plenty of conflict making me wonder who would be the murder victim. It was who I thought it might have been and the twist ending made me smile.
Conclusion: Apart from some of the formatting being irregular (could be a Kindle upload error but there was quite a lot of missing punctuation as well as inconsistent paragraph layouts) and a touch more editing in places (but I would say that, I’m an editor), it was a very entertaining collection, made all the more so for me (as a crime writer) for the themes to often be about writing. I’m sure the authors wrote independently but two featured characters called Brad (after Mr Pitt?) and a place called Bradley. Great minds thinking like, perhaps?
Rating: 4 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, various short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post a spotlight or interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique directly (see Editing & Critique) or for posting on the online writing groups.