Short Stories Challenge – Martin Misunderstood by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Published May 3, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

A darkly comic tale about Mr Less-Than-Average in an average world from the No. 1 Bestseller.

Crime fiction obsessive Martin Reed is the proverbial butt of everyone’s jokes. Working as a glorified accountant at Southern Toilet Supply and still living with his cantankerous mother, he has become resigned to the world in which he lives – the school bullies now pick on him in the workplace, women still spurn him and his arch enemy is now his supervisor.

But then he arrives at work one morning to find the police on site. A co-worker has been brutally murdered and her body abandoned in a ditch. And the overwhelming evidence points to Martin – especially when he can’t or won’t admit that he has an alibi.

When a second victim is found in the company bathroom, things really conspire against Martin. The one bright star on his otherwise bleak horizon is the beautiful and sympathetic Detective Anther Albada, but even she’s beginning to have her doubts about his innocence. Could Martin be guilty? Or is he just misunderstood?

What did I think?:

I love that Karin Slaughter puts out short stories/novellas as well as her hugely popular Grant County series featuring the fantastic character of Will Trent (one of my most loved agents in fiction). Martin Misunderstood is more of a novella, weighing in at 147 pages in my own paperback format. When reading it however, it felt like much less and I whizzed through it very quickly. Our main character is Martin Reed who I am sorry to say is one of life’s losers. He is single, works for a company that sells toilet supplies, remains in the same town that he grew up in where the bullies of his schooldays continue to haunt him (and work with him in some cases) and still lives with his mother who makes it her mission to taunt him on a daily basis and who is desperate for him to be gay just so he would be a bit more interesting. To make things even worse, someone has keyed the work “twat,” on his car and looks to have damaged the bumper. Lovely!

Things start to get much more interesting one day as Martin arrives at work to find a police presence and an area cordoned off. It turns out that one of Martin’s colleagues, Sandy, has been murdered and unfortunately Martin is the prime suspect. Not only has the bumper of his car been mysteriously damaged but there is blood present which matches the blood of the victim. After looking at his messed up car, Martin has managed to cut himself, perfectly innocently of course but it doesn’t look too good in front of the investigating officer, Detective Anther Albada. To put the icing on the cake, the detective also happens to be very beautiful but poor, socially awkward Martin who quakes in excitement in her presence really doesn’t have a hope in hell. His colleagues incriminate him further by telling the police that Sandy had been taunting Martin two days previously by announcing that he had a “teenie weenie” on the company loudspeaker and super-gluing a twelve inch vibrating sex toy to his work desk. When another body is found with a further connection to Martin it looks like his hum-drum life is going to be getting a lot more interesting. But is Martin a killer? Or simply misunderstood?

Karin Slaughter’s trademark black humour makes this story easy to gobble up in a short space of time and some scenes definitely made me laugh out loud. One sex scene was written in such a way that it was both hilarious and cringe-worthy at the same time, those who have read this story will know exactly what I’m talking about! I felt so sorry for our main character Martin as the evidence stacks up against him and he doesn’t help matters by digging himself into a colossal hole. The author manages to pack in some great characters like Martin’s co-worker, Unique Jones (with an accent on the e and pronounced You-Nee-Kay thank you very much) and Martin’s intimidating and infuriating mother, Evie. Karin Slaughter also knows how to write a brilliant ending that leaves you feeling completely satisfied yet somehow gagging for more. Take the last line for instance – “And it was true. Martin finally understood.” For me, it’s a must-read for fans of the author and anybody new to her writing, which after this novella should make anyone hungry to seek out the rest of her work.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: Cellists by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories Of Music and Nightfall

One comment on “Short Stories Challenge – Martin Misunderstood by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

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