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Morgen’s story review no.151 – OxCrimes 7: Fred Vargas’ Five Francs Each

09 Mar

Today’s book review of a single short story (the seventh in the 27-story charity crime anthology OxCrimes collection) is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.

I rarely read ‘proper’ books (paperbacks / hardbacks) and I’d wanted to read this collection for a while so bought it as a paperback so I could sit and read at least one short story a day. (I’m also writing short stories for competitions and submissions too and have sent three off in the last week!).

If you’d like your short story or writing guide 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 OxCrimes Collection

OxCrimesFor 2014, Oxfam and Profile Books have turned to crime in order to raise a further £200,000 for Oxfam’s work. OxCrimes is introduced by Ian Rankin and has been curated by Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, where it will be launched in May. The stellar cast of contributors will include Mark Billingham, Alexander McCall Smith, Anthony Horowitz, Val McDermid, Peter James, Adrian McKinty, Denise Mina, Louise Welsh and a host of other compelling suspects. Profile Books have raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Oxfam by publishing OxTales (2009) and OxTravels (9781846684968) (2011).

This collection is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW and http://www.amazon.com/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW.

Review of Fred Vargas’ Five Francs Each

This is a short short story (20 standard book pages) so a short review…

The title of the story implies that we are in France, and indeed we are; in Paris.

Right from the off, it is an amusing tale from a homeless man’s perspective.

There is a wonderful contrast between the man and a murder victim, ‘One who had never squeezed a sponge’.

I mentioned in Walter Mosley’s story about the annoyance of switching point of view in the same section, and in this one it does the same thing without a section break to make it clear that we have changed main character. Although some of this may be down to the author, it should’ve been picked up in the editing stage, as should a comma typo at the end of a sentence (towards the bottom of page 155) where there should have been a full stop, but we are all human.

There were also the fair number of ‘well’s at the beginning of some dialogue sentences – which regular readers of these reviews will know is a bugbear of mine. There were at least eight in a 21-page story so far too many and from different characters which is a big ‘no no’. It’s like ‘er’ – we use them very sparingly if at all.

The charm of the story however makes up for any errors. The homeless man has a dilemma and there is a brilliant suggestion to solve the problem.

It’s always a bonus if you learn something from a short story, and here I learned that flow as an ice flow is spelt FLOE rather than FLOW, and later an explanation for pi.

Conclusion

This story was a mixture of ‘The Life of Pi’ (although this was originally written before this novel was published) and ‘Stranger than Fiction’, the latter being my favourite film.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Ian Rankin’s An Afternoon, the eighth story in this collection.

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Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction CompetitionRONE 2015 Judge.

As well as a teacher of creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online, Morgen will be one of five tutors at the 2017 Crime & Publishment alongside crime authors Lin Anderson and Martina Cole!

Morgen’s first love is writing and she is 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 TwitterFacebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine 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 (free 1,000-word sample), 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, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

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*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each
but only until 3rd April! ***

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You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

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.

 
 

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