Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’

The Armchair General

Posted: May 21, 2022 in Book reviews
Tags: ,

By John Buckley

Can you defeat the Nazis? And so reads the subtitle of this great book, though it’s not quite the whole story because what it should say is; can you defeat the Nazis? Oh and the Japanese as well!

Written by John Buckley, a professor of military history, The Armchair General is a book that combines three of my favourite things.

  1. History.
  2. Alternative history.
  3. Choose you own adventure books!

What Buckley has written here is a wonderful book that not only teaches you history, it also gives you a sense of what might have been, and it allows you to have fun while you’re reading it.

Buckley provides 8 scenarios, from the choice between Churchill or Halifax to replace Chamberlain, to the decision whether or not to develop and use the atom bomb.

Buckley’s writing is clear and concise, he explains complex situations coherently without ever patronising his audience. It did take me a little while to get into the book it’s true, but that was down to A/Getting used to the structure and B/Because the first scenario seems too obvious (and it is, whatever your views of the man, Churchill was always the best option, in any universe.)

The book definitely gets more interesting the further you get into it, and the less you know about some areas the more enjoyable it is. I made very logical decisions with regard to factors that led up to the battle of Midway, but these were totally the wrong things to do. Midway was an especially interesting segment, as was North Africa. The potential of seeing Stalin overthrown is intriguing, and the most interesting part was probably that in relation to Bomber Command, and Buckley has a very interesting view on how things might have gone very differently on the heavy bomber front.

What is fascinating is how, in most cases, the decision doesn’t change the eventual outcome. The Germans and Japanese always lose, it’s the timing of victory and the cost in lives that varies.

An enjoyable and intriguing way to teach history, the only caution is that you need to be very careful not to get real history mixed up with the might have been history!  

By Lawrence Block

Ex-cop come unlicensed private eye Matt Scudder is out drinking, he’s always out drinking, but on this particular night he’s at an after hours drinking establishment called Morrisey’s, run by Irishmen with links to the IRA. When two gunmen stick up the join the owners hand over the cash without a fuss, but later they ask Matt to help them track down the culprits. Matt refuses, but soon finds himself working several other cases. One of his drinking buddies, Skip who co-owns one of the many bars Matt frequents, has his clean set of books stolen and is now being blackmailed for their return, meanwhile a drinking acquaintance named Tommy is arrested for the murder of his wife and his lawyer hires Matt to dig into the killers.

Matt takes on both cases, though he isn’t confident he can be much help in either one. What’s for sure is that he’ll walk a lot of miles, talk to a lot of people and drink a whole lot of booze before he comes to realise that certain events are more closely tied together than he might have imagined.

As I’ve intimated before, this is one of the first, maybe even the first, Matt Scudder novel I ever read thirty odd years ago. This book, along with Eight Million Ways to Die, which preceded it, marked a shift in the Scudder novels (in fact Block had intended Eight Million Ways to Die to be the last Scudder novel, instead he talked himself into writing a short story to finish Scudder’s story off and liked it so much that he turned it into this novel and he liked that so much that he wrote a whole heap more novels!).

The big shift is that this novel is clearly being told in flashback by a now sober Scudder, ten years in the future. Hence it’s gritty 70s setting and the fact Matt is still drinking like a fish. Now I’ll be honest, reading the opening chapter and I did struggle a bit, I think it’s because Block introduces so many characters all at once, but soon the story settles down and it’s a doozey. A robbery, a blackmail plot and a murder, and Scudder is embroiled in all three. More than this though, it’s a meditation of drinking. Scudder isn’t the only character who drinks to excess, there’ Skip for starters, and others too, and even as Scudder trudges the mean streets of New York booze is never far from his thoughts or his actions and there’s a horrible inevitability to his life, and the lives of those around him that’s really quite poignant. It’s incredible to think Block almost cut the character loose right before he became so much more interesting.

As always Block’s prose is fantastic, and the cast of characters he creates is incredible. Even people who wander into a single scene seem fully formed. As for the mysteries, as is usually the case Scudder solves the crimes not through some Holmesian deductive reasoning, but via solid detective work, asking questions over and over again until something shifts, and the ending, though kinda depressing in a lot of ways, is also incredibly satisfying.

As a final point, you have to love the title, taken from a song by American folk singer Dave Van Ronk. Not only is it an incredible poetic line on its own, but taken in context with the rest of the song’s lyrics it serves as a philosophical theme for the whole book, especially the scene were Scudder and another character listen to the song (and relisten to it) while drinking another night away.

And so we’ve had another night
of poetry and poses,
and each man knows he’ll be alone
when the sacred ginmill closes.

Anyway, an excellent book and highly recommended.

by Mark Salisbury (with contributions by Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith.)

Since it began in 2014 Inside No. 9 has surprised and thrilled viewers. Each episode if a self-contained 30 minute story, with the only the number nine (and a small brass hare) as linking features. The seventh series is about to start and Pemberton and Shearsmith show no signs of running out of ideas, the breadth of what they do with the format is amazing, from murder mysteries to kitchen sink dramas, gothic horror to corruption in football.

I already own the scripts for the first three series (reviewed here) and was lucky enough to get this book for Christmas and what a wonderful book it is too. Jam packed full of gossip and info on every episode from the first five series, this is a book for fans of Inside No. 9, but also for anyone interested in the process of making a tv series. Full of behind the scenes photos, interviews with cast and crew and analyses of every episode. Dealing with everything from how Shearsmith and Pemberton get from an original idea scrawled in a notebook to an award winning script, to how the production crew built a multitude of sets, from a French couchette to a 17th century barn, a call centre to a gothic mansion.

A fantastic read. There’s really only one problem, it only covers the first five seasons! Hopefully we’ll eventually get a follow up covering the next five (or maybe the next four as I have a feeling the guys might see nine series as an appropriate place to finish.)

The Shining

Posted: April 1, 2022 in Book reviews, horror
Tags:

By Stephen King

(Finished in March)

<Note the following may contain some mild spoilers for the book and the film>

Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy and his five-year-old son Danny move into the remote Overlook Hotel located in the Colorado Rockies. The hotel has closed for the winter and Jack has taken a job as caretaker. Jack is an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic with anger management issues. Previously he accidentally broke Danny’s arm, and more recently he lost his job as a teacher after assaulting a pupil.

Before the last of the Overlook’s staff leave, Danny meets Dick Halloran, the Overlook’s black chef. Halloran recognises a kindred spirit in Danny, Danny has ‘The Shine’, the same as he does, a psychic ability to read minds and experience premonitions.

Before he goes Dick tells Danny to avoid room 217, and tells him he might see the spirits of people who died at the hotel, but makes it clear that they can’t hurt Danny. He also says that if Danny’s ever in trouble he just needs to call out to him with his mind and Dick will come running.

At first the lonely hotel seems the perfect place for the family to reconnect, and the ideal spot for Jack to finish the play he’s been working on, but snowbound isolation, coupled with the spirits that haunt the Overlook begin to insidiously worm their way into Jack’s mind. Dick Halloran was wrong, the Overlook is dangerous, especially when it finds something it wants, and it wants Danny!

I have a curious relationship with the film of the Shining. I’ve seen it precisely twice and on neither occasion have I particularly enjoyed it. I saw it first in my teens and was left unmoved, and then saw it again a few years ago and had a similar reaction, though in part maybe this is down to how many pastiches of the film I’ve seen over the years (UK sitcom Spaced in particular riffs on it a lot). But then I watched Mike Flanagan’s excellent film version of Dr Sleep, which reawakened my interest in the story of the Overlook, and I had a friend who similarly hates the film recommend the book, so I thought, why not?

So fair warning here, I’ve not always been King’s biggest fan, especially in long form—I do love his short stories though—for every novel of his I’ve liked there’s been one that left me cold, so I began reading The Shining with some trepidation.

The first thing to say is that it’s so much better than the film on just about every level. Clearly a damaged individual, the Jack of the book is incredibly complex. Unlike Nicholson’s film Jack who’s basically nuts before he even sets foot inside the Overlook. Similarly Wendy is more than just the Kubrick demanded hysterics of Shelley Duvall, Danny comes across better too. It’s also wonderful to see that Dick Halloran doesn’t risk it all to get to the Overlook only to be murdered the moment he arrives!

All the characters and fully rounded, though at times a little too fully rounded, and the downside to seeing so deeply inside of them is that sometimes we get to see different perceptions of the same event, and sometimes you just want King to get on with it! The characters don’t even reach the Overlook for some time, and it’s some time later before anything spooky happens.

As for the supernatural stuff, some of it is very affecting, Danny’s visit to Room 217 for example. Similarly some of the imagined conversations Jack has with the guests at the perpetual party, and there is something unsettling about the whole Unmask! Unmask! thing!

Other bits aren’t as disturbing; however well he writes I couldn’t take the topiary monsters seriously.

King can write well though, and even if I wanted him to get a move on at times, I was always engaged (I found Jack’s exploration of the history of the Overlook especially fascinating) and even at a relatively early stage in his career you can see how good he is at what he does.

Could have been shorter, and could have been spookier, but I still enjoyed it and it’s a damn sight better than the film!       

Cage of Souls

Posted: February 12, 2022 in Book reviews, science fiction
Tags:

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

It is the far future, the sun is swelling, and beneath its bloated gaze the earth is dying. Shadrapar is the last city on Earth. A city built upon the ruins of multiple previous societies, a civilisation where nothing new is created, where only the past is mined. Stefan Advani is a rebel, a heretic, driven to hide in the world beneath Shadrapar before being arrested and exiled to The Island, a floating prison deep in the humid jungles far from Shadrapar.

Beaten, humiliated, fearing death on a daily basis, Stefan begins to document his incredible tale of survival, but at the end of history can there still be hope for humanity, or is it time to make way for something else?

I actually bought this book about nine months before I actually got around to reading it, the curse of a large ‘to read’ pile. All I can say is that I wish I’d read it sooner because it’s superb!

As ever Tchaikovsky’s world building is off the charts. The city of Shadrapar feels very real, as does the world beneath it, but they pale into comparison next to The Island and the jungle around it. His descriptions are vivid, I saw the place in my mind’s eye, I smelt the place too, experienced the oppressive humidity of it, and felt like I was sharing a cell with poor Stefan. 

The story is told in the form of a memoir written by Stefan, and as such it bounces around in time somewhat, and there are several flashbacks to his before The Island, and despite knowing he will end up in prison, it is interesting to see how he got there, and the curious things he encountered beforehand, some of which have relevance for his new life.

There’s a bunch of interesting characters, including a sadistic marshal, a dashing duellist turned prison warden, and even a man who claims to have come from Earth’s past, and at the centre of it all is Stefan, not perfect, not a superman, he’s often weak and cowardly, and at times you might wish he had a trifle more agency, but he is a prisoner for much of the story don’t forget, and he never feels less than real.

Though there are moments of triumph, this isn’t the cheeriest of novels, there’s a melancholia that hangs over the story that’s as palpable as the mugginess that hangs over The Island, but there is perhaps some hope, even here at the end of history, even if that hope might not refer to humanity.

Tchaikovsky’s prose is always excellent, and despite its big ideas, this story rattles along at a decent pace. It might meander here and there, but the world and characters he’s created are so interesting you probably won’t mind too much.

Highly recommended.

The Thursday Murder Club

Posted: January 12, 2022 in Book reviews
Tags:

By Richard Osman

(Read in 2021 I’m just really slow at updating my blog!)

The luxurious retirement village of Cooper’s Chase might seem like a place where old people go to be forgotten and to wind down before they die, but this certainly isn’t the case for the Thursday Murder Club, a foursome of pensioners who meet to discuss old murder cases (they have to meet on Thursdays because it’s the only day they can get the room). There’s Elizabeth (a former intelligence agent) Ron (an ex-trade unionist and all-around rabble rouser) Ibrahim (a psychiatrist) and newbie Joyce (a former nurse).

When people connected with Cooper’s Chase start being murdered it’s up to the Thursday Murder Club to find out whodunnit.

It’s probably fair to say from the off that the cosy is not a subgenre of crime novels that I’m that familiar with, or usually drawn to (as you’ll know if you’ve been following the kind of things I read, I lean more towards the hardboiled detective fiction) but Osman is a likeable presence on TV and this book has had phenomenal reviews. So, is it very good?

Well yes and no, and obviously my own prejudices may have counted against me enjoying it as much as others might. In simple terms I think Osman’s characterisation is top notch, his prose about average and his plotting…well that’s where it kinda falls down, in fact at times he seems so enamoured of his fearless foursome that he lets them meander around on various side quests, and the central mystery be damned.  

The premise is a doozy though, pensioners written off as old duffers prove they’re much more switched on than people think, and it’s nice to see characters in their twilight years still being shown to be useful, still being shown to be fully functional human beings rather than old dogs who can’t be taught new tricks of people with dementia. As an elevator pitch it’s great.

The four central characters are mostly well realised, as are several supporting characters, though others are pretty flimsy. You’ll have to suspend your disbelief a lot here, especially with regard to the latitude the police will give the Thursday Murder Club members, and the pensioners do manipulate the coppers quite easily. All four main characters have skills that prove useful at various points, even if in Ron’s case that just seems to come down to getting under people’s skin and organising a good protest. Elizabeth proves the most useful, her contacts from her former life give her access to information even the police don’t have. Useful.

There are plenty of red herrings, and most are fairly obvious (though fair dos to Osman there’s a moment later on where, for a moment, I thought he was about to completely pull the rug out from under me.) The murder resolutions are a little unsatisfying, but again this might just be me, certainly the huge success of the book, with a film or TV series on the way, suggests most people like it.

A lightweight, amusing and altogether cosy read, but there’s enough to enjoy that I’ll probably read the sequel at some point.  

The Big Sleep

Posted: December 15, 2021 in Book reviews
Tags:

By Raymond Chandler

When PI Philip Marlowe is called to the house of the wealthy and elderly General Sternwood he can little imagine where events will lead. Initially Sternwood hires him to deal with a bookseller named Arthur Geiger, who is trying to blackmail his wild youngest daughter, Carmen.

Marlowe agrees to take the case but on his way out is accosted by Sternwood’s eldest daughter, the only slightly less wild Vivian. Vivian believes her father has actually hired Marlowe to track down her missing husband, Rusty Regan. Marlowe doesn’t confirm or deny her suspicions.

Quickly Marlowe finds himself embroiled in mayhem as he becomes entangled in the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, in pornography and murder, but just what is going on?

I’ve always loved the film of The Big Sleep, and it’s not a lie to say that for much of my reading of the book I had Humphrey Bogart’s voiceechoing through my mind. Much as I enjoy the film I’m never entirely sure what exactly transpires in it, and having read the book, and done some research on the Wikipedia page, I can see that the convoluted plot of the film was lifted pretty much from the book, and I also discovered that I’m not the only one to find it a bit of a headscratcher, though to be fair now I’ve read the book I think the film should seem a little more coherant.

In some respects the confusing complexity of the plot makes sense. My reading of Chandler has made it obvious that he was a writer who rated characterisation and atmosphere over plot, and given The Big Sleep, like most of his novels, was a hybrid of several of his short stories (at least four apparently) then that confusion makes even more sense. There’s one clear loose thread still left dangling at the end.

But I don’t necessarily read Chandler for the plot. I read it for the characters and the prose, for the ambiance of the world He’s writing about.

As usual Chandler is great at this, and populates the book with a slew of memorable characters. Carmen and Vivian for starters (though it’s hard to separate Vivian from the wonderful portrayal of the character by Lauren Bacall) then there’s General Sternwood, an infirm old man who spends his days in the hothouse so he can feel warm, and who enjoys his old vices vicariously through others. The servants, particularly the butler, are also great. Then there’s Harry Jones and the killer Canino who don’t show up for long but who make a strong impression. Pretty much everyone Marlowe meets makes an impression.

It’s also interesting to see how racy the book is, it had to be toned down for the film. There’s sex and nudity and homosexuality, most of which never made it into the film. Hence when Bogie finds Carmen in the film she’s oddly fully clothed, despite having been just photographed for pornographic material, whereas in the book she’s naked.

Anyway, a wonderful book, just don’t expect it to make a whole lot of sense!

Time to Murder and Create

Posted: November 24, 2021 in Book reviews
Tags:

By Lawrence Block

When small time crook turned big time blackmailer Jacob “Spinner” Jablon turns up dead the cops aren’t much interested in solving the crime, but unlicensed Private Investigator Matt Scudder has already been hired to bring Spinner’s killer to justice, by Spinner himself! Months before Spinner gave Matt a sealed envelope and told him to only open it in the event of his death. Matt opens the envelope to discover his fee, and details on the three people Spinner was blackmailing, along with instructions to figure out which one killed him, and then to let the other two off the hook.

Scudder didn’t much like Spinner, but he has a thing about murder, and his innate sense of honour means he takes Spinner’s case. But who is the killer? The father whose daughter killed someone in a hit and run? The pederast politician? Or the society wife who was once a hooker/porn star?

One thing soon becomes clear, whoever killed Spinner now has Matt Scudder in their crosshairs!

I think I was a teenager when I read my first Matt Scudder novel, borrowed from the library in the late 1980s I think (could have been early nineties I guess which would make me not a teenager!). It was, I think, either When the Sacred Ginmill Closes or Eight Million Ways to Die. What matters is that I loved it and, I think, I’ve read every Scudder novel since, or at least most of them, because I don’t hold onto many books anymore, not like I used to, it’s hard to recall which books you’ve read and which you haven’t. Anyway, I’ve been considering a reread for a while and as luck would have it I found a second hand bookshop with quite a stash. I picked up three, but really should have nabbed the other three they had, but much as I love adding to my never ending reading pile, one must have limits!

Time to Murder and Create is the second Scudder novel, though I think around this time they’re fairly interchangeable. Scudder spends a lot of time thinking about the child he accidentally killed when he was still a cop, he spends a lot of time sitting in churches despite not being religious (even going so far as to tithe ten percent of everything he earns into church poor boxes) and he spends most of his time drinking, no matter the time of day or night. Of course, it could be argued that Scudder becomes really interesting, and shakes off a few hard boiled tropes, once he stops drinking, but that’s a few books away, and there’s still much to enjoy here.

Scudder is no Poirot, he doesn’t do deductive reasoning, what he does is get in people’s faces, ask questions, shake the tree and see what falls, and he’s very good at it, even if his plan to pretend to be taking Spinner’s blackmail operation over yields some tragic consequences.

The plot is slight, but that just makes for a fun, quick read. There’s all you’d expect from this kind of story there’s a vicious killer, a lascivious femme fatale, and all manner of lowlifes and decent people caught in difficult situations, oh and Block’s prose is always a joy, and slips off the page as easily as the booze Scudder drinks slips down his throat.

Always highly recommended.    

By Charlie Kaufman

When Joel Barish discovers that his ex-girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski, has used a radical new process to erase any memory of him from her mind, he employs the company behind it, Lacuna, to perform the same procedure on him, but as his memories are erased Joel begins to realise that he doesn’t want to lose Clementine from his life after all, but trapped in his own head can he somehow keep the memory of the woman he loved safe from Lacuna’s invasive procedure?

It would be fair to say that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of my top ten films of all time, a film I’ve adored since the first time I saw it at the cinema way back in 2004. A thoughtful meditation on romance and memory, and in many respects one of the most honest films about love there is. A film that manages to be melancholy and happy, nihilistic, and yet hopeful. It could have failed miserably, it could have been too sappy, or too cynical, but it isn’t, it walks a tightrope between the two which results, for me, in one of the most beautiful films ever made.

Having recently re-watched the film for the first time in many years (and reminding myself not to leave it so long next time!) I wondered if the script was available to buy and was thrilled to see that it was. That the book came complete with a foreword by director Michel Gondry and a Q&A with screenwriter Kaufman, plus on set photos, was the icing on the cake.

It’s always interesting to read a script because you can see how a film changes what’s on the page, and despite this being the shooting script there’s a lot in here that we didn’t see in the film, and I have to say it’s hard to see anything that would have made the film any better, and certain scenes happen in a different order to the finished film. Did we really need to see Joel’s ex, Naomi? No, we didn’t, and many speeches are snipped, which helps the film flow—in particular it appears Mary’s use of Lacuna to erase the memory of her love for Dr. Howard Mierzwiak was originally even more fucked up than in the finished film.

There’s interesting anecdotes as well, like how Kaufman originally intended for there to be a prologue and epilogue set in the far future (which seems like a terrible idea) and the fact that the parade scene was a chance occurrence, the parade went past as they were filming and they decided to film Carrey and Winslet in character watching it. Given the parade features elephants, who of course never forget, this seems like a wonderful example of serendipity.

 A treat not only for fans of the film, but for those interested in the mechanics of screenwriting too given how labyrinthine and non-chronological he plot of the film is, and it’s a salient reminder of the strange alchemy that goes into making a great film, because while on the whole Kaufman’s script is fantastic, there are plenty of moments when what’s on the screen is far superior to what’s on the page, and however good Kaufman’s words are, it took Gondry, Carrey, Winslet and a whole raft of other people to create pure gold.

New Fears 2

Posted: October 27, 2021 in Book reviews, horror
Tags:

Edited by Mark Morris

Having read the first New Fears back in 2017, when I saw a follow up I quickly pounced. There are 21 stories so as I did with New Fears I’ll say a little about each of them. As usual with any anthology I enjoyed some stories more than others, but all were interesting and likely other readers might like some I didn’t and vice versa.

The book opens with Maw by Priya Sharma. A Shetland based folk horror, interesting environment and characters, but the horror was a little too nebulous for me.

Airport Gorilla by Stephen Volk is a trull horrific story, more so because it’s obviously based on fact (to an extent). Well written but not sure is in the best taste. The shooting down of an airplane is told from the perspective of a cuddly toy.

Thumbsucker by Robert Shearman is an unsettling tale of a character’s father’s extracurricular activities. Has the feel of Tales of the Unexpected about it, not to mention a very curious eroticism.

Bulb by Gemma Files has an interesting concept around technology and electricity but after a good start it didn’t really work for me.

Fish Hooks by Kit Power is a genuinely disconcerting story about a woman who starts seeing horrors in everyday life. Good story with a great dénouement

Emergence by Tim Lebbon is one of my favourites in the book, an excellent story involving a man who travels through a tunnel to what appears to be an alternate earth. Grim tale about inevitability, time travel and paradoxes.

On Cutler Street by Benjamin Percy,  a very brief story that didn’t make much of an impact on me.

Letters from Elodie by Laura Mauro, a young woman grieves for a woman she loved, it begins as one thing but by the end has morphed into something much more interesting than it initially appeared.

 Steel Bodies by Ray Cluley, this has an interesting premise about a ship graveyard in Africa but it didn’t grab me for some reason

Migrants by Tim Lewis, a story that intrigued, even though I’m not entirely sure what occurred. In an ordinary housing estate, a man is approached to escort a mysterious person from one house to another, apparently his neighbours have been doing this for a while.

Rut Seasons by Brian Hodge. A good story about a woman’s relationship with her aging parents, particularly her mother with whom she has a very fractious relationship.

Sentinel by Catriona Ward. Another aging mother, this time one determined to protect her daughter and granddaughter from a vengeful entity from the old country that’s followed them to America. An interesting story albeit one that didn’t deviate from an obvious conclusion.

Almost Aureate by V.H Leslie. A young father on holiday abroad becomes obsessed with a heavily tanned man he sees watching him from atop the hotel they’re staying at. An odd yet certainly unnerving tale.

The Typewriter by Rio Youers. A man buys an old typewriter with the intention of renovating it but he finds himself possessed by the spirit of it’s former owner. A well-worn tale but handled well which made it an interesting read.

Leaking Out by Brian Evenson.  A homeless man breaks into what he thinks is an empty house but finds someone is home after all, or rather something.

Thanatrauma by Steve Rasnic Tem. An old widower grieves for his lost wife while struggling to find meaning in life. Well written but another that didn’t grab me.

Pack Your Coat by Aliya Whiteley. A tale about viral stories, in particular an urban legend and the affect it has on one woman. A very interesting and well written tale, though I have to admit the ending let me down somewhat.

Haak by John Langan. Probably my favourite story in the entire collection and a great example of a story within a story (within a story?). A teacher recounts a tale to his students of how the writer Joseph Conrad encounters a mythical land after befriending a steamboat captain on a Swiss lake. An incredibly imaginative, fantastical tale that merges fact and fiction, mythology and horror, and the moment when I realised just where the mythical land was, was joyous. The book is worth if for this story alone.  

The Dead Thing by Paul Tremblay. There’s probably a decent story in here somewhere, but the stream of consciousness format with no paragraphs just several long unbroken blocks of text   interspersed with occasional text conversations, put me right off. A young girl struggles to protect her younger brother from a mysterious box he’s found

The sketch by Alison Moore. A woman in an unhappy marriage, possibly suffering from post-natal depression finds escape in an old sketch book from her teenage years before she gave up on her dreams.

Pigs Don’t Squeal in Tigertown by Bracken MacLeod, it’s debatable whether this is horror or thriller, but this story of a biker gang member travelling to a poorly maintained tiger park is certainly a fun read.

All in all a decent anthology with something for everyone…well, so long as they like horror.