Saturday, 17 May 2008

Modus Operandi

The new anthology from the Crimewriters’ Association, M.O. - subtitled ‘Crimes of Practice’ - is a collection of nineteen short stories on the theme of modus operandi.

I’m afraid that I do very much neglect short stories in my reading diet (apart from Katherine Mansfield, Carol Shields and William Trevor, whose complete collections are my constant bedside companions) – so this was a very welcome reminder of the unique piquancy of the form.

And there are some absolute crackers in M.O. The variety is astonishing – from traditional Victorian mysteries to cutting edge modernity, from the comedic to the deadly serious. Two or three are definitely not for the squeamish!

Personal favourites were: ‘Ann and Clare’ by Liz Evans, an intense page-turner hinging on pregnancy, jealousy and betrayal; ‘Bedside Manners’, medical ethics with a twist, by Martin Edwards; Robert Barnard’s ‘The Last Get-Together’, with a famous painting at its heart; ‘Going Back’, an atmospheric story by Ann Cleeves, in which a middle-aged woman revisits her primary school and ponders the fate of a missing schoolfriend; Inglenook, by Douglas Stewart, the tale of a newly married couple who renovate a quaint old cottage with unforeseen results; and a heartrending account by Martyn Bedford of a small boy's own investigations into his mother's sudden disappearance in 'A Missing Person's Inquiry'. Heartily recommended.

M.O. doesn’t seem to be on Amazon yet, but the publishers, Comma Press, will despatch it in double-quick time if you purchase from them direct.

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