Short Stories Challenge – The Rat In The Attic by Brian McGilloway from the collection The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 7

Published October 4, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s The Rat In The Attic all about?:

When a police inspector goes to investigate a crime reported by an older member of his community he gets a lot more than he bargained for which results in an unexpected arrest.

What did I think?:

Oh dear. I’m afraid this isn’t going to be a terribly positive review. I think collections that feature stories from multiple authors do suffer occasionally from being a bit hit and miss and unfortunately this story was a miss for me. Our narrator is a police inspector and he is called out to see an older woman, Mary Hannigan whom the police like to keep a bit of an eye on as her husband passed away fairly recently and she is living on her own. He has been called out as the woman has reported a murder which is she is very distressed over – her cat, Tammy.

Mary is convinced that her neighbour, Artie Moran had a hand in her beloved cat’s death. In fact, she is certain that he hit it with his van, despite there being no visible injuries on the cat and the fact that Artie’s van has not moved recently, being covered with a visible layer of snow. Artie feels quite sorry for his poor neighbour even though he may have not had anything to do with the death of the cat and tells the inspector to give her a fifty euro note (to pay for a new cat!).

It is only when the inspector is out trying to bury the creature in the frozen ground that he notices something curious. Both Mary and Artie’s roofs are the only ones that are not covered in snow and the inspector queries whether she has insulation installed as it seems the heat is all escaping through her roof. Poor Mary is togged up in multiple layers and it is so cold in the house that their breath is clearly visible but Mary insists her late husband was involved with the insulation and her electricity bill has become so high recently that she has no choice but to dress warm and reduce the amount of time she has the heating on for. This mystery is finally solved when the inspector goes up to Mary’s attic where she warns him about the rat that she has heard moving up around there.

I’m not going to give away the end of the story but there is a lot more going on to it then I expected at the beginning. It’s on the shorter side as short stories go and I’m not sure whether the length of the story meant that I wasn’t as invested in the characters as I perhaps would have been if there was more time to get to know them. There was a part right at the ending which I thought was a nice touch and made the character of the police inspector slightly more interesting but it wasn’t believable enough for me unfortunately. I haven’t read any of Brian McGilloway’s work before and perhaps it wasn’t the best introduction to his work as this short story really wasn’t for me.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: Care by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

2 comments on “Short Stories Challenge – The Rat In The Attic by Brian McGilloway from the collection The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 7

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