This book was an interesting read. It took longer than I expected but as far as short stories go these five were on the longer end. For reference, it’s 140 pages with zero filler at the end so it’s a true 140 and there are novellas out there that are 40 pages in length so you can fit three of them in here with 20 pages left over for one more short story thus still having four of the five in this book. My brain, unfortunately, didn’t do the mental math when I purchased this and was expecting more like ten to fifteen pages per story.
Starting of with page length instead of anything else is because I skimmed a lot. There was suspense, and mystery, and all you expect in crime stories but I found most to be very wordy. Wordy like how this review is already too wordy and I’m in the second paragraph except on a larger scale. Sometimes information I didn’t really need was dropped. Almost as if the author had to explain everything to the reader instead of keeping the tension high. This didn’t happen much in the first story, which I loved, but the more I got into it the more I found myself not reading pages to get to the crux of the story.
Also, the stories felt dated but one story literally had covid in all caps referring to a mask which could not have come from before present day. It was the wording. The way modern things were talked about sounded like they would have back in the day when they were new yet the way modern things were used felt similar to how they are today so it was an odd matchup of chosen wordage versus actual content.
And the endings, especially the one for the last story, just felt odd or forced except for the first one. In the last one, a girl just runs away and I’m like, um… okay. In the second story, there’s a pretty drawn-out ending when it could’ve neatly ended when the main character got away with something. I would’ve been angry cause he deserved to get caught but it would’ve evoked an emotion out of me. The third one was predictable but not handled well. You knew where it was going but the villain didn’t really get caught. Like the hero quite literally said she wanted to check something a page before the whole reveal so it felt like a last-minute I got you kind of thing. The fourth one I had to go back and reread because a lot of skimming happened here. The ending just didn’t really connect with the entire set-up of the story and there was a lot of setup and info-dumping here. Even the last story started off well but then meandered off into mellow territory. I guess this was my biggest problem. The tone.
Though the stories seemed like they could be something the tone, even the tension, except for the one fight scene in the last story, was the same. It didn’t dip, it didn’t rise it didn’t force me to connect to the stories and was too mellow for me. This was why for stories so short I skimmed through a lot of pages. They almost felt the same as if I were being told a story about things but without anything to get me emotionally invested in them
To be fair this tone was clearly set in the first story. A conversation between the main character and her unknown sibling where she debates whether to help him or not. It’s a nice retrospective piece about how she weighs the situation and decides what to do about it. But this type of calm, even-paced writing made the following much longer stories seem way slower and longer than they were and hard to get invested in.
I just couldn’t connect with this on the level I connected with the first story. Taking that same writing style for the rest didn’t fit as they were serious crime and suspense that needed more than the slow, sit down at a table, one scene story of the first of this collection. It still gets 3 stars because I did enjoy the first story and somewhat the second. Also, the rest had good bones, but I felt like all of them could’ve been shorter and more could’ve been done to draw readers in. Maybe this author’s style just isn’t for me but it felt very one-note in pacing and tone which limited the level of reader involvement I could give it so it ended up being just an okay experience.