Tuesday, June 28, 2011

'Lunch Reads Volume 3': Quick Bytes of Crime Fiction

Review: LUNCH READS, VOLUME 3 (Istoria Books 2011)
Authors: Edmund X. DeJesus and Ellen B. Holzman

LUNCH READS VOLUME 3 is pretty much as the title describes it. A book with two stories you might be able to read over the course of a lunch hour (or two, depending).

The ebook is part of a series (that's why it says "Volume 3") of ebooks with two short stories -- one shorter than the other -- or so it seems based upon my review of LUNCH READS VOLUME 1.

In any case, here's my review.

First, there's the short story called "Shoplifting" by Edmund X. DeJesus. In this story, the world's most crotchety shopper has some interesting interactions with a young shoplifter. There's a manager, too, but the less said about him, the better. Anyway, the story is short, really funny and ends with a twist. So ... nicely done!

The second story is "Call of the Riled" by Ellen B. Holzman. This story is most creatively told in a series of letters to the editor of a community newspaper. It seems the editor of the Mountain Telegraph has been killed in a most awful and untimely manner. This nasty death provokes a lot of letters to the editor of said paper. (Who's dead, so who's reading them? Some other editor, I guess. An assistant. Whatever ...) Many of the letters offer condolences as to the untimeliness and tragic nature of the editor's demise. Some of them are a bit less sympathetic. Even so, eventually it comes out that, in fact, the editor was murdered. This leads to fresh speculation and a flurry of correspondence from the various crazies who read the paper.

Clearly, Ellen Holzman drew on her background as a community journalist in writing this one. Each letter is basically a character in the story. And this community is chock full of interesting characters, ranging from an intrepid young stringer to an ex-Marine who never fails to sign off with the words "Semper Fi!" The letters convey a narrative that keeps the reader guessing, builds suspense and has as many twists, turns and red herrings as any story with a straight narrative I've ever read. Now that's saying something.

Based on what I've read so far, I'd say Istoria Books has carved out a nice niche with its series of Kindle mystery shorts.

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