Natasha Cooper

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Short Stories Challenge – The Common Enemy by Natasha Cooper from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Published December 12, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s The Common Enemy all about?:

The Common Enemy looks at the things that irritate us the most, yet when something terrible happens we may appreciate how lucky we are and how trivial those matters can be.

What did I think?:

For my Short Story Challenge, I’m rotating a number of collections around in sequence to try and get a bit more appreciation for the genre. So when I knew The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime (Volume 7) was coming around, I have to admit I sighed and rolled my eyes a bit as, to be honest, I haven’t been that impressed with the stories so far. I’m so glad I persevered with this collection as Natasha Cooper’s short story The Common Enemy really knocked my socks off. The story opens with an average couple, Dan and Sue Chalmers who are watching the News at Ten when they hear some noise from some teenagers outside. Sue seems to be livid with rage and we get the feeling that this is a common occurrence where they live. Even the gentle touch of her husband’s hand against her head does not ease her tension but when she listens to the newsreader talking about the problems in the Middle East she feels a bit chastised for getting so wound up about a bit of noise. After a little while, the noise ceases and Sue can hear the more familiar sound of her neighbour, Maggie Tulloch walking home from work whom she admires for being a probation officer and:

“trying to make her clients behave like human beings instead of filthy, thieving thugs.

Sue notices that Maggie’s footsteps seem to drag more than usual and she would be right. Maggie is having quite a tough time at home and tries to delay her arrival by any possible means, even if it means working late. When Maggie’s father died, Maggie invited her mother to move in with her, believing it would do them both some good. Her mum would have the company and Maggie would get some much needed help as she was raising her child, Gemma as a single parent. Now Gemma is fifteen and Maggie is regretting that decision enormously. Her mother is over-critical of everything she does, including how she brings up her daughter but she also criticises her personally e.g. wardrobe, eating habits – basically, she cannot do anything right and it’s really bringing her down.

That’s about all I’m going to say plot-wise because something happens that throws everything into disarray and changes lives for good. (Apologies too for the very vague synopsis). While I was reading this I actually missed my stop on the bus because I was so engrossed in the story! Furthermore, it’s not so much the turn of events that blew my mind but the way in which it ended. Shocking, thrilling and completely unputdownable, this story made my heart race and my eyes pop. I would have loved a little background information about the author in this collection as I haven’t read any of her work before but believe me, I’m going to now. If you get a chance to read this story please do and let me know what you think! Pure brilliance.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: Note To Sixth-Grade Self by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Challenge: Short Stories October to December

Published October 9, 2014 by bibliobeth

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It’s that time again short story fans! This is what I’ll be reading short story wise from now until the end of 2014.

Week beginning 6th October

 Looking Up Vagina by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 13th October

The Pool by Daphne Du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 20th October

Partial Eclipse by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 27th October

The Fly And Its Effect Upon Mr Bodley by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 3rd November

Busted by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 10th November

Nocturne by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories Of Music And Nightfall

Week beginning 17th November

The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter by Angela Slatter from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Week beginning 24th November

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 1st December

The Common Enemy by Natasha Cooper from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 8th December

Note To Sixth-Grade Self by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 15th December

A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 22nd December

Mrs Todd’s Shortcut by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 29th December

Everything I Knew About My Family On My Mother’s Side by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank