Today’s book review, of a short story, is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.
The Blues Detective Saves Christmas by Andrew Peters
Synopsis: Otis King, Memphis’ Number One Welsh Blues Detective is planning a traditional Christmas at home with cats, chilli and medically dangerous quantities of alcohol. His plans are shattered, when a damsel in distress walks into his office and asks for the one favor he can never provide. Will Otis stick to his principles…. or will chivalry make him forget every lesson he has learnt in his years as a musician? A thought-provoking, touching and really quite ridiculous tale for the Festive Season.
This story is available (currently free) via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blues-Detective-Saves-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00AP8YVMU and http://www.amazon.com/Blues-Detective-Saves-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00AP8YVMU.
Review (of the Kindle’s text-to-speech function)
I have eleven of Andrew’s eBooks on my Kindle and picked this one because it’s festive… and short (because I’m packing in a few Christmas reviews this week). On to the story itself…
After a short ‘disclaimer’ – which I thought was much longer because the story itself didn’t have a heading so they merged into one another before I realised and re-started them – distancing the author between reality and fiction, the story continues in first person but from the Blues Detective (Otis King) rather than from Andrew (is there a difference?). Otis is a bah humbug (something I can relate to) which sets the tone and time of year. The action then starts when we meet a ‘face from the past’, Karinne Douglas, who becomes Otis’ latest client.
There are two threads running through this story: Otis tracking down a fraudster and him (and his band) being asked to play at Christmas for free (it’s assumed from the story’s title that he does both).
With my editor’s hat on, although the writing is written in reflective present tense, there are a number of (presumably intended) tense slips (e.g. ‘Same thing happens this time last year’, ‘she does not permit him to divorce her last year’, ‘where I book a room an hour or two earlier’… there are many more), moments where the narrator (Otis) chides the narrator (‘the new President (Karinne, keep up)’), surplus adverbs (‘completely devoted’, ‘positively vehement’, ‘and he uses many fewer words’ (eh?)), and far too many ‘Well’s at beginning of sentences (I did a search; there were seventeen of them, an average of one per 300 words).
There seems to be more rambling (at one point Otis said “Digress? Moi?” – yes, far too much) and backstory than plot and it seems a lot longer a story than it is.
Occasionally Otis talks of previous cases (Andrew’s subtle way of getting us to buy… or rather download – most, when I downloaded them, were free – his previous eBooks) and often refers to himself in the third-person (and arrogant) which I found grating. We’re usually supposed to like the protagonist but I didn’t warm to him at all.
While this style of writing is intended, I’m sure, to be friendly (when not being sexist; ‘the lovely Ms. Goodlay’ is where I lost interest, and I used to be a fan of the Carry On films), which some readers will enjoy (and wouldn’t mind the unnecessary swearing), unfortunately I didn’t, and I shall be interested to see whether Andrew uses the same style with his other books (and whether I like those any better).
Rating: 1 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.
She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service, and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.
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If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.