Deception & Revenge in 15 Short Stories
(Short Story Tales Book 2)
“ALL HAIL the Short Story!”
These 15 short stories come from those shaded corners; the shadowy recesses of our minds where deceit and revenge take refuge. Only to surface when we choose to be most unpleasant to our neighbors, our colleagues, our lovers, and to our families—and even our species. Above all, it’s the unpredictable kinks that catch you unaware that make the ‘CROOKED TALES’ anthology such a wicked delight.
‘CROOKED TALES’ gathers the talent of 15 of the hottest authors around to thrill you with their visions of mayhem, in places exotic, bucolic, other-worldly, or simply sinister. With the resurgent interest in the Short Story, due to us having busy lives with only micro-moments of calm to read, the editorial team of READERS CIRCLE OF AVENUE PARK (#RCAP) curated this unique short story anthology.
“CROOKED TALES” is a sequel to the successful ‘TWISTED TALES’ short story collection published by Readers Circle of Avenue Park in 2015.
You have the itch to read, but have only a long moment to indulge, so ‘hail a short story!” and immerse yourself in brief adventures of the imagination. Each author has been challenged to describe their tale in a single line:
‘Death of A Sparrowman’ – Eric J. Gates:
‘From chirrup to croak, why we should beware of benches.’
The first story in this excellent anthology, “Death of a Sparrowman” by Eric J. Gates is a colorfully written spy story; a most unusual spy story. I had never read anything by Gates before this story and I must say from the beginning I was caught. Gates has created an ordinary man, “He was such a gray individual; his very ordinariness was an asset.” as the primary character in his short story. Told in a laid back fashion, with an almost nothing to see here tone, Gates drew me into the tale certain something explosive was soon to occur. After all James Bond always has some great shoot ‘em up scenes and Ian Fleming was no slouch when it came to spy stories. But Gates has created a character more like Joseph Conrad’s “Secret Agent”; subtle, weary, and still very capable.
Don, as he is known, is an observant and cautious courier. He is the thinking man’s agent, one who plans his actions and is alert for anything out of the ordinary. Eventually, of course, he comes face to face with that rare experience that made his inner warning system click on. The climax of this story is as quiet and introspective as the entire tale and it wasn’t until I read the last sentence that I realized I had been holding my breath. Gates had taken me on a tensely escalating journey with restraint so that I was as confident and unsuspecting as the unlikely victim.
I will certainly be seeking out more writings by Gates. His style is rich and so beautifully written it is as irresistible as a sweet dessert.
‘A Crooked Mile’ – Fiona Quinn:
‘Straying down a bleak path, lost doesn’t mean gone forever.’
The second story in the anthology is by Fiona Quinn, another author previously unknown to me. “A Crooked Mile” has all the components I love in a mystery story; a little psychic insight, teamwork, dogs, and snow. Bad weather should be a requirement for any good mystery. Quinn does an amazing job of weaving together seemingly disconnected details in a nonchalant manner.
Her primary protagonist is delightfully assertive; a woman who knows what needs to be done and gets down to business. Firm but not overbearing, Lexi is a leader who ably gathers others to aid her in whatever task needs to be accomplished. Whether she is enlisting the assistance of Gator to help move boxes for a friend or assembling her team of co-workers to search for an old man in a blizzard, Lexi is as much a part of the team as she is the catalyst that gets them moving. Coupled with her leadership skills Lexi also has a touch of extra sensory perception. Bit by bit clues are revealed and Lexi works at connecting what seem to be very disconnected dots. She seems to be lead forward by her need to decipher the psychic clues as much as her desire to save an old man with Alzheimer’s from freezing to death.
Along with her dogs, Bella and Beetle, and her team of friends, Lexi follows a trail that grows colder by the minute. Doggedly determined to fit the pieces of the puzzle together in time to rescue the lost man, it is the help of Missy, a character who appeared at the very beginning of the story that makes things click into place. I love the way Quinn takes us on a circuitous path to the climax. It is brilliantly crafted and Lexi deserves at least another story if not a series of stories. She is an outstanding character with wonderful potential for more adventures.
I’ll review the next two short stories in my next blog.
Meanwhile I recommend this book based on the first two stories alone. Their quality makes the purchase more than worthwhile.
‘Squatter’ – Ulla Hakanson: ‘This story is nuts – no, really, quite nuts.’
‘Nothing But the Truth’ – Joseph Mark Brewer: ‘What he saw changed everything…’
‘Angel Heart’ – Michelle Medhat: ‘A spot kill from drug-pushers to detectives— how Hz hurts.’
‘The Scream of Silence’ – Pamela Crane: ‘Sticks and stones you may atone, but lies come back to haunt you…’
‘Mark of the Hyena’ – Mark Fine: ‘When civilizations collide N!xau’s click ticks tsk tsk tricks a surprising vultured culture.’
‘Beneath’ – Anita Kovacevic: ‘The most surreal bun fight: beware of fiery coiffure justice!’
‘Ubiquitous’ – Geoff Nelder: ‘There’s no escaping the near future until you realize how to play the system.’
‘Keeping It in the Family’ – Traci Sanders: ‘Hots for a firefighter cause icy cold amnesia in a comeuppancy family affair.’
‘Set for Saturday’ – Keith Dixon: ‘In the company of thieves, it’s all about loyalty.’
‘Cold’ – Lubna Sengul: ‘The mother of all arguments, taken to the grave, and beyond.’
‘Confessions’ – Julie M. Brown: “He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves – one for his enemy and one for himself.” ~ Chinese Proverb
‘Terrestrial Traitor’ – Jeremy Croston: ‘Nested deceit – aliens, humans – who’s worse?’
‘Red Queen Check’ – Elizabeth Horton-Newton: ‘Revenge for sins of the past is best dished up hot, lusty and electric.’