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Morgen’s story review no.153 – OxCrimes 9: Stuart Neville’s Juror 8

11 Mar

Today’s book review of a single short story (the ninth 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 Stuart Neville’s Juror 8

This is a relatively short story (27 standard book pages) so a relatively short review…

We should always care about our characters and just the first two sentences: ‘My name is Emmett McArdle. I am 76 years old, and I feel every day of it’ made me warm to this one.

Although there is a lot of backstory, most suited perhaps to a novel, it’s charming and moving in equal doses.

When we are introduced to Juror number eight – who isn’t the narrator – it reminded me of the film at ‘Twelve Angry Men’ and I hoped it would continue to do so as I had enjoyed the film, albeit years ago. It didn’t, but I was still pleased with how it continued.

As a reader, I always like to learn something from a story and in this one there is a reference to egg cream, which google told me is ‘a drink consisting of milk and soda water, flavoured with syrup’. Sounds fairly vile but I guess it depends on the flavour of syrup.

There is a lot to like about this story, especially the description of New York, Emmet’s family etc and the ooh wow ending.

And now for writers:

  • I know I harp on about ‘well’s at the start of dialogue sentences but rightly so in this story; there are eight – from various characters in speech and from our main character’s narration. <sigh>
  • ‘any more’ = quantity whereas ‘anymore’ equals time. In this story we have the former where we should have had the latter, which should have been picked up at the editing stage.
    • There are two clichés: ‘sleep a wink’ and ‘quiet as the dead’.
    • There was some confusion midway in the story between two characters as they are both referred to as ‘young man’ but when reading on it became clear who was who.
  • When writing in past tense and talking about a previous time, we should use ‘before’ rather than ‘ago’ because ‘an hour ago’ (for example) is an hour before now rather than an hour before whenever the story is set.

Conclusion

An amusing tale, especially when comparing whiskey to marriage, and a reference to a skull (this would make sense if you read the story).

I’m not a history fan, and although this story was set in the 1950s, it didn’t feel historical but felt ‘fresh’.

The story is very well written, but sadly let down in places by the editing.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Stella Duffy’s Face Value, the tenth story in this collection.

*

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.

***

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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