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Morgen’s story review no.155 – OxCrimes 11: John Harvey’s Not Tommy Johnson

13 Mar

Today’s book review of a single short story (the eleventh 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 John Harvey‘s Not Tommy Johnson

This is a short short story (13 standard book pages) so a short review…

As all good crime stories should start, we have a body early on.

As with novels, we have our detective – Resnick in this case – investigating the crime while we learn something about his personal life.

The killer is / killers are revealed and I like the way that the story comes full-circle, ending with the title.

And now for writers:

– Be careful when mentioning a noun and then using a verb that refers to a previously mentioned pronoun (character). On page one we have, ‘red hair catching fire for an instant in the floodlights, before despatching the ball…’ The reader could interpret that it was the hair that dispatched the ball rather than the character.

– Those who know me know that I like using commas. I mainly do this when the reader would breathe when reading a piece out loud (something I’d always recommend writers do with their writing). Commas are also used for separating different pieces within sentences, and here we have – still on the first page – ‘the same years they found him struggling still to come to terms with the failure of his marriage…’ I read it as still struggling rather than still coming to terms with the failure of his marriage. There’s not much difference between the two but anything that makes your reader come out of the story and wonder, isn’t a good thing.

– We often write about what’s there but not so much about what’s not there and a good example here is about a dog who ‘backs away, growling, from the kick that failed to follow’.

– In this story there are two ‘Well’s at the start of dialogue which isn’t too bad compared with some of the stories I’ve read so far (but still avoidable). Is anyone here reading all the OxCrimes reviews and counting how many ‘Well’s there are to-date? Do you agree?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Peter James‘ You’ll Never Forget my Face, the twelfth 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.

***

If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Related articles:

*** 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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