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Morgen’s story review no.160 – OxCrimes 16: Maxim Jakubowski’s My Life as a Killer

18 Mar

Today’s book review of a single short story (the sixteenth 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 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 Maxim Jakubowski’s My Life as a Killer

This is a very short short story (9 standard book pages) so a short review…

Rather than have a dead body opening this story, we have the promise of one; the main character is an assassin and it looked promising until we had a ‘Well’ in paragraph five (less than 100 words in) – see previous reviews for this and my other bugbears.

The main character – we never learn his name – plans to dump then burn his victim and although there is a hitch along the way, the body is still dumped but not burned and we don’t learn why as he simply leaves the discovery to fate.

The list of his accomplishments was amusing – I’m a crime writer too and often have dead bodies in my stories, even the romances.

And now for writers…

  • ‘only’ replacing ‘except’ being acceptable… exceptable?🙂 I’ve noticed, having gone back through my eBooks to convert them into paperbacks – which are now available!) that I sometimes used ‘only’ where I should have used ‘except’ and in Maxim’s story ‘only’ is used in place of ‘except’ and appears at the beginning of a sentence which strictly speaking is a no-no.
  • In yesterday’s story (from James Sallis), I mentioned two sets of characters sharing the same first initial – which I’d always recommend avoiding from novels and definitely in short stories as readers remember names from the first letter – namely, Will, Walter, Jamie and Jonas (and the author is James!) and in Maxim’s story there’s Cathleen and Christopher, which with only characters mentioned in the whole story could have easily been avoided. They are different genders but they’re similar lengths.
  • Conclusion

A short, sweet and amusing tale from the criminal’s perspective. I did guess the ending but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Christopher Fowler‘s The Caterpillar Flag, the seventeenth 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.

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! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

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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Posted by on March 18, 2016 in writing

 

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