What’s Set-Up all about?:
Set-Up follows a teenage girl who finds herself in precarious circumstances with no parents around to assist or comfort her.
What did I think?:
All the stories in Manslaughter And Other Tears have won awards in some shape or form and this latest tale, Set-Up was the recipient of the Cairns Post Writers Award in Australia. I’ve already waxed lyrical about how much I am adoring this collection but if you haven’t read my previous reviews, this collection has everything I would want from a short story and I love the themes that the author chooses to explore. Many of these stories are rooted in fairy-tales but the most common themes are both the darkness of the writing and the twists and turns that Dianne Gray imposes upon the reader. Set-Up is another one of these tales where you think you have it all figured out and then you realise you really, really don’t.
Dianne Gray, author of the short story collection, Manslaughter And Other Tears.
So as with every novel/short story that I review which has the potential to be spoiled for readers who haven’t encountered it yet, I really can’t say too much about this story without ruining everything. So what can I say? Well, it’s the story of a young girl whom when we meet her is lying at the bottom of her basement stairs having severely injured her ankle. She is railing in her head at her parents whom she blames for everything that has gone wrong in her life, including such banal things as them daring to want to have a second honeymoon in Paris. Alone and a bit afraid, she manages to drag herself up the stairs to find two men in her house who have escaped from the nearby prison. The men are looking for money and food before they go on the run and are not delighted to be faced with an injured young girl who just happens to be the daughter of the head of the police. The narrative follows her interactions with them as they maintain innocence for their crimes, claiming they were “set-up.” As they attempt to escape, the unexpected occurs and things become a whole lot darker and grittier for all parties concerned.
Stairs to a basement – how I imagined the location of our female lead’s accident.
It sounds like quite a simple, run of the mill story about a young girl in a dangerous situation with escaped criminals doesn’t it? Don’t let my vague, non-spoiler description fool you. There is so much more going on in this short story than just that. Our female lead is an interesting and captivating character to read about and as a reader, you want to know what exactly has happened to her i.e. how did she come to fall down the stairs and how she is going to get herself out of this predicament with the absence of her parents and two hardened “baddies,” in her house? Nothing is what it seems in this story and I was shocked and delighted once more by the direction Dianne Gray chose to take things. I would have thought that by a few stories through the collection I would have cottoned on to her wily tricks and the way she manages to turn things around yet every time I’m still surprised and honestly, not expecting it. Dianne Gray is such a wonderful, talented author and I’m always bowled over by how much her stories stay with me, long after I’ve finished reading them.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: Some Drolls Are Like That And Some Are Like This by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.