The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime Volume 7

All posts tagged The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime Volume 7

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Four Hundred Rabbits by Simon Levack from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Vol 7.

Published April 12, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s Four Hundred Rabbits all about?:

Four Hundred Rabbits tells the story of a midwinter festival to honour the Aztec gods in which a young man is drugged. As our protagonist investigates, we find out exactly what happened to him and why.

What did I think?:

Once again with my Short Stories Challenge, I’ve been introduced to an author that I’ve never heard of before and I love it for that! Simon Levack is a British author of historical mystery novels that so far, all feature the same character, Yaotl who is a slave in in Precolombian Mexico with the Aztec people. Almost immediately, I appreciated the detail that has gone into Four Hundred Rabbits and in it’s execution, it very much reminded me of the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom (which I have fallen woefully behind on). Generally, I thought it was a decent enough tale and it was obvious that the author had created the plot meticulously however it didn’t blow me away. It was enjoyable but unfortunately, only okay in my opinion.

Our protagonist for the story is the same character featured in the author’s novels, a slave called Yaotl who used to be in the priesthood but was expelled and turned quite heavily to drink before he became apprenticed as a slave. In Four Hundred Rabbits, he is brought up before his master, Lord Feathered In Black and his assistance is demanded. In the corner lies the body of Black’s great-nephew, Heron in a drugged stupor. As Yaotl has had a lot of experience with different plants/drugs through his studies as a priest, Black wants him to investigate the incident and find the culprit so that he can be punished. We are taken to a world of strange religious rituals, where four hundred men compete to drink sacred wine through a hollow straw and it is by these means that Yaotl believes Heron has been poisoned. Why was he attacked in this way? Yaotl must find out before his master’s impatience runs out or before he becomes a target himself.

First of all, I really loved how unique this story felt, especially in comparison to every other tale in this collection. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be taken to another country, another culture and another point in time that is so vastly different from our contemporary world with different beliefs and ideals. I mentioned Shardlake earlier and the way Yaotl goes about his business of attempting to find the perp really reminded me of Matthew’s own investigations in the Sansom novels of King Henry VIII’s England. I was fascinated by how all the pieces of the puzzle came together although I still found it a bit difficult to realise the exact motives of our culprit. Although the writing was excellent, something didn’t fully connect with me unfortunately. Perhaps I was interested in Yaotl himself as a character and was far more intrigued about why he had been expelled from the priesthood rather than a young (rather obnoxious) young man being drugged during a festival. Maybe Yaotl is explored further in Levack’s novels and I’d certainly be curious enough to give them a try.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: 20th Century Ghost by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

Advertisements

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Part Two

Published April 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to the second part of my Short Stories Challenge for 2018. I have to admit, I’m feeling a little disillusioned writing this post and preparing which short stories I’m going to read for the next few months as in Part One earlier this year, I had so many disappointments and very few stellar stories that stood out to me. I think the biggest failures for me would have to be The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan Poe and Books And Roses by Helen Oyeyemi but I could mention a few more. However, let’s end on a positive – there was the wonderful The Apple Tree by Daphne du Maurier and Dibblespin by Angela Slatter which completely restored my faith in short stories. It is because of stories like these that I want to carry on with this challenge and find more great authors like the many, many ones I’ve found so far, purely from their short fiction alone. Let’s do this!

Four Hundred Rabbits by Simon Levack from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Vol 7.

20th Century Ghost by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

The Coincidence Of The Arts by Martin Amis from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

Beachworld by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Set-Up by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Some Drolls Are Like That And Some Are Like This by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives Of Women.

The Underhouse by Gerard Woodward from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

My Mother’s Wedding by Tessa Hadley from the collection Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre edited by Tracy Chevalier.

 

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – A Place For Violence by Kevin Wignall from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Published October 28, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s A Place For Violence all about?:

A Place For Violence follows our male protagonist on an apparent holiday in Bali but the reasons why he is there are a lot deeper than we are first led to believe.

What did I think?:

The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime has been a really interesting reading experience as part of my Short Stories Challenge. Generally, I love a collection that hosts so many different authors, many of whom I had never heard of before and it has been fascinating sampling the variety of their writing styles. Of course, as with most collections that involve such an array of authors there are going to be some stories you don’t get on as well with but so far, I’ve always looked forward to the next story in the collection. Kevin Wignall was another author that I hadn’t come across previously and it was a pleasure to experience his work for the first time. The only problem with talking about this story, A Place For Violence is that I really can’t say too much about it as to do that would give far too much away!

What can I say? Our protagonist, Dan Borowski is on a break in Bali but from the very beginning of the story, the reader senses that he might either have a big secret he isn’t telling us or that he is on the holiday for reasons other than rest and relaxation. He comes into contact with a young man called Luke Williams who is wheelchair bound following a horrific accident where he was hit by a car driven by an erratic and selfish man that has never been charged for his offence. Dan and Luke also come into contact with another resident of the hotel that they are staying in, Brian Tully – a despicable bully of a man on holiday with his cowed wife and two children and determined to make as much fuss and as much of a nuisance of himself as possible.

A Place For Violence is shorter than your average short story and it isn’t long before things kick off, tempers ignite, justice is served and revenge is sweet. But you may have guessed from the title and the fact that this is crime fiction, that this wasn’t necessarily going to be the happiest or most joyful of tales! Overall, I did enjoy this, I think Kevin Wignall has written a story that does everything it says on the tin. It has interesting characters that you are either rooting for or loving to hate, and an eye popper of an ending that makes you wonder what would happen next if the author had chosen to write on. It also cleverly dulls the lines between essentially what makes a man “good,” and what makes a man “bad,” and, I have to admit, tested my morals slightly as I struggled with my feelings towards certain characters. I’d definitely be interested to read more of this author’s work in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT SHORT STORY: Best New Horror by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

 

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Four

Published August 26, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image from: https://thereadersroom.org/2015/08/07/book-worms-life-in-books-short-stories/

Hello everyone and welcome to the fourth part of my Short Stories Challenge 2017. I’ve had quick a rocky road in Part Three – there were quite a few short stories that I was disappointed in, namely Possum by Matthew Holness and An Anxious Man by James Lasdun. However I did read Word Processor Of The Gods by Stephen King which was fantastic (the King hardly ever disappoints!). Onwards and upwards and hoping for better things in Part Four.

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

Free Fruit For Young Widows by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.

Monte Verità by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Birds And Other Stories.

The Murders In The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe from the collection The Best Short Stories Of Edgar Allan Poe.

Little Radish by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories.

Go Deep by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone).

The House On The Hill by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales.

The Man In The Ditch by Lisa Tuttle from the collection A Book Of Horrors.

The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft.

A Place For Violence by Kevin Wignall from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Fruits by Steve Mosby from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Published June 28, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s Fruits all about?:

Fruits follows a man locked in a cell reminiscing about the frightening events that caused him to be placed there.

What did I think?:

Steve Mosby is another new to me author which is one of the reasons why I’m loving my Short Stories Challenge so much. I get to read so many different authors that I’ve never heard of before, especially in collections such as these where you get a variety of styles under the same genre – crime fiction. He is the author of novels such as The Murder Code and The Nightmare Place which have been translated into nine different languages and rocketed to the top ten on bestseller lists in countries such as France, Germany and Holland. Now after reading Steve’s work, this is definitely an author I need to read more from. Fruits is shorter than your average short story but his lyrical style of writing and carefully chosen words really pack a punch.

Our narrator for the story is John who is writing to his partner, Caroline knowing that she may never receive his letters. He is being held captive in a tiny cell with a dirty mattress and a hole for a toilet whilst outside he can see beautiful countryside and a prominent apple tree, the fruits of which make it to his plate every morning on a tray that his captor pushes inside every morning without John noticing. His jailer has also started putting a scrap of paper on the tray alongside his food and it is this that John is using to write to Caroline, to set some things straight, to apologise and to try and redeem himself.

John is a writer by trade and recently he wrote a rather controversial book that focused on the murder of a woman called Jane Ellis, whose body and murderer has never been found or brought to justice. John used the fact that a rose was sent to Jane’s husband one year after his disappearance with a note saying that “she lives forever,” as a way to tell her story and certainly not to “exploit her,” as some individuals accused him of. Now John has ended up in a very tricky situation, held in a cell with no hope of release, eating apples from the tree outside but certain he is being poisoned in other ways and hearing/seeing other things outside his cell that makes him understand how Jane Ellis and victims like her could potentially be living forever.

I really admire the author of this short story for putting so much detail into such a short space of time. It is written beautifully and with such finesse that I immediately went back to the beginning and started again to try and pick up on little things that I may have missed first time around. It leaves you with so many questions in the end – about John and his relationship with his captor and about the captor himself and his past, present and potential future. I’d almost love another companion story from the captor’s eyes just to try and understand exactly what has been going on. I don’t really want to say too much more about the plot or the ending for fear of spoiling things but on the strength of this little story alone I’ll certainly be looking out for more work by Steve Mosby.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: Stations Of The Cross by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Two

Published April 15, 2017 by bibliobeth

I’ve read some terrific stories in Part One of my Short Stories Challenge for 2017 so far! However stand out stories have to be The Raft by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew and The Butcher Of Meena Creek by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears. Here’s to finding some more great short stories and authors in Part Two!

The Reader by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

The Birds by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Birds And Other Stories

The Gold-Bug by Edgar Allan Poe from the collection The Best Short Stories Of Edgar Allan Poe

Gallowberries by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories

Thorn In My Side by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

The Drowned Village by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Alice Through The Plastic Sheet by Robert Shearman from the collection A Book Of Horrors

The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Fruits by Steve Mosby from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Stations Of The Cross by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Short Stories Challenge – Hogmanay Homicide by Edward Marston from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Published December 19, 2016 by bibliobeth

11185153

What’s Hogmanay Homicide all about?:

Set in the early 1900’s, Hogmanay Homicide tells the story of friends at a New Year’s Eve house party where one of them is brutally murdered. The question is, which one of the friends did the deed?

What did I think?:

I’m loving my short stories challenge as it continues especially with collections like these where I find so many new to me authors that I’ve never heard of before. Edward Marston is a pseudonym for the British author Keith Miles who has written a number of different novels in a variety of genres from historical fiction and mystery to children’s books. This collection so far has featured a number of contemporary crime narratives so I found it quite refreshing to read something based much earlier in time that had a very classic, Edwardian feel to it.

Our main character in Hogmanay Homicide is Hawley Crippen, married to Cora for a number of years yet exhibiting quite a strained relationship with his wife who is prominent in the theatre world, singing opera for a living. They decide to host a New Year’s Eve party, something he is dreading as he thinks very little of some of the invited guests. They consist of Cora’s good friend Mabel, a magician and his assistant, a brash Scotsman called Angus and a Frenchman called Landru, whom Huxley is particularly suspicious of.

So, we’ve all been at one of those parties where too much of the old drink is taken and the inebriated individual becomes loud, opinionated and incredibly irritating. This is what happens at this particular party with one guest which leads to horrific consequences when the drunkard ends up at the bottom of the cellar stairs, head smashed in with a large piece of coal. Not the best start to a New Year you might say! Hawley is determined that no-one will leave the house until he figures out who the villain is and what reason they had to murder the guest.

As I mentioned earlier, I did enjoy that this story was set in the 1900’s in comparison to more contemporary crime I’ve read recently. For a while at least, I did also enjoy the writing style although I never particularly warmed to any of the characters. The magician was bland, his female assistant more so, Angus was just a caricature of a typical Scotsman – which I have to admit annoyed me slightly and I didn’t feel either Hawley or his wife Cora had any real redeeming features at all which would make me interested in them. The only slightly intriguing character for me was the Frenchman, Landru and that was mainly because of the air of mystery that surrounded him and the reasons why he was in the country. There were parts I really enjoyed about this little story despite my misgivings however and I wouldn’t mind trying something else by this author.

Would I recommend it?:

Not sure.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: What We Save by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater