My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My favorite book genre is mysteries. With so many wonderful authors and series, it’s often difficult to decide what to read next, especially when you’re looking to expand your horizons with something new. That’s often why I’ll turn to an anthology of short stories, as collections allow you to sample a dozen or so writers who hold a vast array of experiences and styles. This month, I took a chance on one called ‘Death Among Us,’ published in July of 2019 and edited by Stephen Bentley. In this fantastic collection, readers are exposed to ~10 authors who have each contributed 3 stories. What’s even better is that the three stories are generally connected to one another, so it’s almost like reading a mini novella several times over.
Prior to each author’s stories, there’s a lively and informative intro about what readers are getting themselves into. The writer will tell us if the stories are connected by the same character or a similar murder plot, a continuation of the previous tale but with a twist, or something even more dastardly and thrilling. I enjoyed this aspect of the anthology, as often in these types of books, each author only has a single story. With three, we get a better feel for their voice, style, and tone. The collection kicks off with the award-winning editor’s ‘The Rose Slayer’ stories, where homicide cops trace a killer who leaves behind a calling card. It spoke to me for many reasons, but to watch the transition from the first to the second and the last story, I felt like I could understand the motivation and operating procedures / boundaries of the heroes (and possibly the serial killer too!).
Another favorite is Robbie Cheadle, an author who’s participated in another short story collection that I’ve read as well as written many children’s books with her sons. What a vastly different style across her entire inventory of books and stories… to kick off with, in ‘Justice is Never Served,’ we have a woman who murders babies! Then there are the chimney sweeping killers (not what you’re thinking either!)… Cheadle delivers just the right amount of gore and thrills without going over the top, as the topic could be quite difficult to swallow. The best parts of her three stories are how they are all based on some sort of true story… which makes the tale even more horrific. She’s definitely cultivated her talents in these three tales, and I hope to see a full-length horror novel from her one day.
In addition to these two clever authors, I found many new writers I plan to follow. All of the stories were strong, none left me bored or confused. It’s a vibrant collection of twisty horrors, delicious death plots, and witty dialog among killers, cops, and victims. There are even a few lines of paranormal / fantasy / science-fiction being crossed, enough to make us afraid to enter a dark room in the future. Between those chills, and the crazy over-arching theme of what happens to both good and bad children in this book, it’s a prime candidate for anyone who wants to be frightened or read about something over-the-top, devilish, and evil.
If you’re up for a seasonal read, I’d recommend buying now and reading an author every few days in the month of October. Death and Halloween go so well together, and this is definitely one to keep in mind for pushing the envelope with creativity, complexity, and dark drama. That ‘side serving of revenge’ we often hear about… is the prime motivating factor in so many of these stories… and who doesn’t like to see someone get their just desserts?
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For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.