This is an anthology of “Very Short Tales of Mystery and Murder.” If you enjoy either of those, and flash fiction, this is the book for you. (Although, personally, I’d have preferred more “mystery” and less “murder.”)
This is a good beach or public transportation book. Dip in, out, and skip ahead without guilt if a story doesn’t grab you. I ended up skipping, just two or three stories. Not counting the two that are in languages I don’t read (Japanese, and French).
I’m a big fan of brevity, which is why I dabble in flash fiction myself, and from that perspective this book does not disappoint. Most stories are 3 to 4 pages long, some of them (the better ones, in my view) are even shorter.
By my quick count, there are at least 40 stories, from just as many writers. Thus, the writing style varies quite a bit. Some turns of phrase that I enjoyed, presented here context-free and credit-free because I’m only doing this for fun, not a grade:
He holds his hand out to me. I have to squint, the way the moonlight filters down through the buildings. It's a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes, closed, the cellophane intact. Next to it, also in his hand, a single Pall Mall cigarette.
[Memes about] Unusual animal pairs are hugely popular. Feds bought a whole bunch for a smothering campaign a while back. ... Expensive to produce, these memes. We breed the big cats as docile as we can but, deep down, the killer instinct is still there. And everyone wants to go big nowadays . . . cats stealing dog beds just doesn't cut it.
The other, less savory, involve comic books, action figures, and a mix of replica and occasionally actual championship belts from the defunct professional wrestling promotions.
A tattoo is not a scar, it is a wound that never heals. A mild state of permanent infection.
In Hamlet, North Carolina, they climbed into the bunkbeds. Sarah took the top, the ceiling so close she felt as though she's been sealed inside a carapace.
Oddly enough for a work of fiction, the book includes a subject index. Perhaps because with so many stories, it might be challenging to remember which one included the reference to mating house cats. Lest you think I’m making that up:
The book itself is a very nice — it’s a paperback, but not the sort of cheap production you often find at grocery stores. (Often? Do grocers still sell books?) I bought my copy at neighborhood bookstore Volumes, but you can also find it at the Amazon.