Today’s book review of a short story collection 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.
12 Days of Winter by Stuart MacBride
Synopsis: A collection of interlinked tales of crime and retribution laced with dark humour, set around the festive season. Thieves, drug dealers, lap-dancers, gangsters and even the odd good guy populate these twelve tales exploring the seedier side of life in North East Scotland.
Review (of the audiobook)
As you would expect from the title, the first story is entitled ‘A Partridge in a Pear Tree’. It features Billy, a hapless overweight burglar who, although we can’t fail to like him, gets his comeuppance.
‘Two: Turtle Doves’ is a follow-on and although it features an autopsy, there’s an unpleasant surprise at the end for the pathologist too.
‘Three: French Hens’ is about a French restaurant’s food critique with a brilliant ending.
‘Four: Calling Birds’ about a sex line call centre and a shock call to ‘Sexy Sadie’.
‘Five: Gold Rings’ is a brilliant story about a greedy undertaker.
Set in a prison, ‘Six: Geese a Laying’ is about women longing for children and those who don’t deserve them.
‘Seven: Swans a Swimming’ tells of an under-15s swimming championship. Like the other stories, it has some great (but not too in-depth) description and like the previous six, there’s tragedy and in this case a great one liner: the smile lights up her face like a burning building.
‘Eight: Maids a Milking’ brings us back to Sexy Sadie. Her card, along with others, in a phone box is removed by Brian and the story focuses on him and when it’s best not to tell the truth.
‘Nine: Ladies Dancing’ features Twitch and his private dancer. Twitch is accompanied Billy from the first story and we meet Twitch’s ‘boss’ Dylan who was mentioned, and feared, in story one.
‘Ten: Lords a Leaping’ is another linked story, with Lord Peter, whose house was targeted in story one and who is less than a savoury figure.
‘Eleven: Pipers Piping’ is a fantastic twisted story about a Santa who really isn’t feeling festive.
The final story is ‘Drummers Drumming’ is a sad tale about a man who’s just doing his best and his duty and whose day doesn’t go as planned for him or his colleagues.
Brilliantly narrated by Ian Hanmore, the often interweaved collection is set in fictional Oldcastle. It’s a tour of the town and its people, some nice, others less pleasant – a dark side that kept me wanting more.
There was nothing that leapt out at me (I was listening to the audiobook while walking my dog) to pick on, writing-wise which was unusual but then Stuart is a big fan of a lot of crime writers I know (especially the Scottish ones) and it’s clear there’s a reason why.
Rating: 5 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.
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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.