I’ve always been in two minds about short story compilations. On the one hand, when I read a book I love to get fully immersed in it – engrossed in the characters and taken away with the story. Sometimes, with a book of shorts, I find I’m just getting hooked into the story and it ends! So generally a good read for me is a meaty novel. On the other hand, I have a genuine appreciation for the short story – the fact that the writer does hook me in and can create an entire world in a few, brief pages is a real skill – and they can be captivating and thought provoking reads.
This was my frame of mind going into the short story compilation, Crime Scenes edited by Zane Lovitt. A series of short crime fiction pieces that share common themes of murder and foul play set between a web of mystery, intrigue and dark secrets.
The book opens with The Turn by Amanda O’Callaghan, an eerie tale of a wife’s disappearance and the questionable husband she leaves behind. The collection ends with a quirky whodunit in which the lines between the protagonist and author are blurred. In between are ten more well-crafted pieces. Some stories would slowly reveal clues to unveil a truth at the end, while others held onto their secrets until shocking me on the final page.
My favourite story in the compilation was Thirteen Miles by Michael Caleb Tasker, based around a mother searching for her missing son. It was a layered, haunting story that stayed with me and left me thinking about all the unwritten possibilities.
Despite my previous misgivings about compilations I did enjoy reading this book as each story was crafted to catch my attention in the first few sentences. A great choice if you are looking for something you can pick up and put down with ease.
Jessica Anscombe is a library officer in Sydney with a passion for reading and writing. She is currently undertaking a Masters of Information Studies.