November 3

CWA Short Story Anthology

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour.

Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood.

Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy and to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join this blog tour.

A collection of short stories poses problems which I don’t normally encounter, the primary concern being: How do you read them?

A short story anthology may look like a book and act like a book but a volume of short stories is an unusual beast. It changes, it evolves, characters come and go – never to be seen again, there are often chapters of excellence but sometimes you experience a head-scratching moment and ponder what you have just read.  You may laugh for a few pages then be terrified for the next few only to be moved to tears 10 minutes later.  A veritable roller coaster of emotion and experiences. But how do you read them?

When I read a book of short stories I will never begin at the start of the book and work my way through the tales in sequence. I will dip in and out and pick the story titles which sound the most appealing. But that is only the case when the collection is the work of a single author. If there are multiple contributing authors then I will look for names I know and read those first. But how do YOU read them?

I have never read a full volume of short stories without stopping before all the tales are told. I do return and I keep reading, but I need to dip in and out. I find the changes in narrative and style to be more rewarding when I pick up the book afresh rather than when I read multiple stories back to back. Is that how YOU read them?

The problem I had with the CWA Anthology was that there were too many good stories and contributions came from authors I really wanted to read. A problem?   Well yes – all my normal behaviours were scuppered as I wanted to keep reading (not take a break). There were multiple authors I wanted to read first (how to choose?) and the theme through the book gave it much more structure than many collections I have read in the past which had no commonality.

I had lots of fun reading my way through the CWA Short Story Anthology. I was able to maintain my habit of reading out of sequence – I flicked straight to Susi Holliday’s story and started there. But after Susi, Michael Stanley, Ragnar Jónasson and Gordon Brown I realised that this collection was a bit special. Everyone has brought their “A-Game”.

For the CWA Anthology you do feel that we are being treated to the some of the finest story telling.  A single author collection of short stories can sometimes suffer a little…”chuck in the story about the wombat we need another 8,000 words”.  But this collection is suffering an embarrassment of talent. There was page after page of brilliant narrative and I loved ending one tale and jumping back to the index to find the next journey.

Look at the contributor list – stellar. If you read crime fiction then you should own this book, simple as that.

 

The CWA Short Story Anthology is published by Orenda Books on 15 November 2017. A copy can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/CWA-Short-Story-Anthology-Mystery-ebook/dp/B075YQ9PGS/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1509658571&sr=1-1

 

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July 1

They Move Below – Karl Drinkwater

They Move BelowIt exists under the earth’s surface in ancient caves; below the vast sea’s undulating waves; under dense forest cover; within a storm’s thick, rolling clouds; downstairs in our homes, when we hear the knife drawer rattle in the night. Even our minds and bodies harbour the alien under the skin, the childhood nightmares in our subconscious.

In this collection of sixteen tales Karl Drinkwater sews flesh onto the bones of our worst fears whilst revisiting some of horror’s classic settings, such as the teen party, the boat in trouble, the thing in the cellar, the haunted museum, the ghost in the machine, and the urban legends that come true. No-one is safe. Darkness hides things, no matter how much we strain our eyes. And sometimes those things are looking back at us.

 

My thanks to Karl for the opportunity to join the blog tour for They Move Below

If you look through the archives of my blog you will notice an absence of short story collections. I rarely read them. If I *do* read short stories then it is virtually guaranteed to be a collection of ghost stories or horror tales. So when I was offered the opportunity to join the blog tour for They Move Below I jumped at the chance.

I first encountered Karl’s work when my friend Sarah (By The Letter Book Reviews) shared her review of Harvest Festival. I loved the sound of the story so made a quick trip to the Amazon Kindle Store and was not disappointed.  You can see my review here. I loved Harvest Festival and it made me want to read more (more from Karl and also more ‘creepy’ stories). They Move Below was the natural next purchase.

Sixteen stories in one volume and chills guaranteed.  The aforementioned Harvest Festival is one of the stories and is still one of my favourites (I read it again). I also really liked a story called Creeping Jesus – think Disney’s Night at the Museum with an 18 certificate!

I am not going to run through each tale and single out the high points (plus I am saving a few stories for later so have 4 or 5 still to enjoy). What I can confirm is that They Move Below is a great collection of dark tales. Nobody is guaranteed to come through a story unscathed, and there was enough variety in the scenarios that I was able to read through more than one story in a single sitting and still think each new tale felt fresh.

Mr Drinkwater has a delightfully warped imagination. A couple of the twists and shocks were quite perturbing (in a good way) and by the time I had read a few of the stories I began to speculate what may be coming next. My eye immediately fell to a story called The Scissor Man – in a collection of horror stories that sounded particularly unpleasant!

A collection I absolutely recommend to horror fans. Now if you will excuse me it is late and I need to go and turn on all the lights…

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You can order They Move Below & Other Dark Tales by clicking through the following link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B006JZWOPE/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Karl+Drinkwater&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Karl+Drinkwater&sort=relevancerank

 

 

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