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.
A Dark Perfume & Other Stories by Ruth Rendell
Synopsis: A man with a gun and nothing left to live for brings this chilling tale to a fatal, but unexpected, climax. Hare’s House: Could simply knowing about the first murder in Hare’s house really have led Norman to a copy-cat crime? A collection of sleek and sinister stories from the creator of Chief Inspector Wexford. Read by Isla Blair and George Baker, TV’s Inspector Wexford.
This collection is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Blue-Perfume-Other-Stories/dp/0007423837 and http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Blue-Perfume-Other-Stories/dp/0007423837.
Review (of the audiobook)
The first (title) story tells of a lost love and their anticipated reunion which has not one twist but two. The story is told in third-person viewpoint from the main (male) character with scant dialogue but the description is so vivid, it’s a pleasure to listen to, especially as by Inspector Wexford’s George Baker’s smooth voice.
The second story, Hare’s House, tells of the new owners of a house with a tragic past. It’s the kind of circular tale, where if only the protagonist had found out information he hadn’t wanted to know it would have saved him heartache but where would the story, and twist, be if he had.
Track three, The Whistler, was a more complicated tale which I had to listen to twice to get it. I’m glad I did because I ‘got’ the twist ending, although it’s my least favourite of the three stories so far.
The next story is Bribery & Corruption, about a young man fooled into taking his girlfriend to a plush restaurant. He’s taken advantage of by her and another but circumstances get him his revenge.
The fifth – last but one – story, The Orchard Walls, one of two narrated by Isla Blair, just as soothing a voice as Mr Baker. The story, by the end of this final (third) disc was my least favourite. Not just because it’s set in wartime (I’m not a history fan) but because the ending gave me an “oh ok” feeling whereas the others had more “wow” twist endings so by comparison, it fell flat.
The last story, The Convolvulus Clock, was very amusing, especially the interaction between the old ladies, one of whom justified her stealing but then got her comeuppance.
There are various coincidences but they don’t solve any problems as such and they’re very minor so not an issue.
Names are suitably ordinary: Raymond, Norman, Rita and Roy. Clichés are few but noticeable (Rita jumping out of her skin).
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.
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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.