My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This isn’t my normal fare. It’s a collection of mystery shorts, mostly what you might call ‘cozies’. I chose to read it because it was written by a college friend’s dad, I like a good mystery every now and then, and I also like to read southern authors, especially ones from my home state of Mississippi.
Mr. Floyd’s ability to write well is beyond question. The descriptive elements are weaved in unobtrusively, and always leave you seeing exactly what’s there without being overly intricate. The modern stories range in timeline from the 80’s to pretty close to present day. Some of the stories in this particular anthology are a bit anachronistic, and the plot would no longer work because of current tech; however, as long as you can suspend that part of your brain and live in the moment of the story, it works fine. There are a few that jump back to the wild west, or just after, that are actually my favorites.
I do know for sure that it’s not the genre I prefer for entertainment. The short story format is where my problem lies, I think. I prefer more intricate, drawn out, complicated plotlines than a short story can provide. There weren’t many that I couldn’t immediately see where the plot was going, and many of them were tropish. There were a few twists that were interesting. If you like that sort of thing, and many people do, then you will probably enjoy the book more that I did. Taste is subjective… some people like hot sauce and others don’t.
As for characters, again, short stories make for shallow development as a general rule. There are only a couple major ones from the anthology that stood out to me.
The main two were recurring characters who appear in several different stories. Sheriff Jones and Ms. Potts, while possibly endearing to fans of shows like Matlock or Murder She Wrote, were kind of annoying to me. As a writer, I should be able to describe what bothered me about them, but all I can come up with is that they gave me an ‘ick factor’ that made me not like them. It’s a personal preference, no doubt.
Conversely, I can’t praise The Warden’s Game enough. That story is absolutely riveting, and is, by far, the best in the anthology. It has an old western feel, even though it takes place in rural Alaska. It is a tale whose theme is of justice found from mysterious sources. I think the fact that it is also one of the longer stories makes it more appealing to me. The characters are able to be developed in more depth, which increases my concern for them. The plot, while not unique, still managed to pull me in because of my like for the theme.
All told, I can recommend the book to those who like to read mysteries, especially cozies. I give it three stars and call it an Interesting Variety Read for me.
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