Review: Miscreants, Murderers, & Thieves by Samuel W. Reed

FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A collection of crime fiction short stories with attractive titles to read during daytime breaks in your living room is a great way to enjoy your time at home. This special collection of thirteen short stories, which I felt happy to review, is called Miscreants, Murderers & Thieves: A Collection of Short Stories About Devious Behaviour. The reader enjoys a well-formatted book with nice and simple art to support each story. It is perfect for breaks and short intervals from work.

The Temperature at Which Love Freezes by Katherine Tomlinson, which is the first short story, is a cold one. Readers get to learn what frigid Siberian temperatures can do to objects as well as people. Kaye, a brown-eyed woman who herself adores the cold, knows a thing or two about cold-related deaths and for her it is something that is not uncommon. After her and Jonathan’s last anniversary, she received a text from a burner phone in the middle of the night concerning a gift certificate. The story starts off with Jonathan slipping out at night while Kaye is asleep. This story puts the readers’ focus on the mess a lover’s unfaithfulness can cause as Kaye has to deal with things like nude pictures found in her husband’s computer.

For readers who are into insects, Don Bapst’s Equity, will definitely be a great one to read. This author, not judging by his somewhat strange sense of humour, was one of my favorites due to his ability to show readers what a young homosexual couple has to contend with professionally in this day and age. Wood-burrowing bugs is certainly no laughing matter as Sebastian, an intelligent Buenos Aires native who is in a relationship with a man named Carlos, sets his mind on an annoying creature in a new house seen as empty.

In Gabriel Didomenico’s Murder at the Magic Castle, Quinn is troubled by his first case: the victim had been thirteen years old and had been murdered in a violent manner. For twenty-five years he had trouble solving the case, but he had made connections to murders that were similar in fashion and went back even further in time. Initially, I didn’t know whether to like him or not as this LAPD detective is already sixty-five years old, missing a bit of his humanity, and haunted by the type of bad dreams I’m sure readers wouldn’t want. At least his likeable quality for me was that he didn’t give up, which makes him part of a story you just have to see through to the end. If you’re up for an eerie night coupled with a car chase and a disappointing lineup filled with magicians, I’d say that you’ll like DiDomenico’s story a lot. With more than one twist to keep the reader on edge, he doesn’t disappoint.

I usually like stories with nice setting descriptions and if I had to pick an author out of this book who is great with these descriptions, then Don Bapst, whose rendering of a historic district dotted with brightly painted old homes and patrolled by armed policemen charged with keeping tourists happy, would be my number one pick. He has a good way of making readers see the world his story is set in. I came across other authors, like Nicholas Zeman, the author of First Tools, who are also great with this sort of thing. Zeman’s story is about a burglary.

The types of scenes that are to be found vary and, judging by how the stories are listed, makes sense in a way that only editors can understand. For me, Samuel W. Reed did a great job editing this book. Samuel W. Reed’s own short story, The Scoop is number twelve on the list and precedes TADA! by Dane G. Kroll, a story about a city familiar to people with super powers.

One of the likeable things I found was seeing what makes a good detective story and how an author makes his detective come across something scary or unexplainable which made me more interested in the story. Learning how difficult detective work can become was also great and a bonus. Besides detective crime fiction, readers also get a taste of what medical crime fiction, something which I’m always freaked out by, is like. Other than reading a story in this specific genre, you get to learn how to deal with situations like blood loss and trauma. This comes from Mercy in the West by David Beeler, an author obviously rich in medical knowledge. What I liked from this author was that he had a simple way of describing his characters which fit in with the way he wrote his story. Please don’t pay much mind to the disturbing mental images you are bound to have after reading it.

I’d have to say that readers can come across something graphic and creepy; I wouldn’t even want to quote it as it may cause you to make a mess or keep you up all night with thoughts of things that don’t belong on the outside of the human body. If an unfaithful lover’s death is something that can easily be overlooked even though there might be enough reason and evidence to support the other one, then the first story is the one that teaches us something that is wrong with that. An unoriginal idea by an author who had a wonderful writing ability caused me to enjoy that author’s short story only a little bit less, but it wasn’t that big of a deal to me.

Though this collection is an enjoyable read for fans of this often nerve-wracking fiction genre, I’d point out that the human body and the people to meet in life are to be appreciated. Also, that some of the characters in this book shouldn’t be seen as role models. Things get dark, dangerous, and psychologically wrong in this gutsy collection quite quickly. Sameul W. Reed has here with him a fine selection of stories for readers with different types of personalities.

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Reed Press
Date Published: January 25, 2020
Genre: Literary Anthologies & Collections
Pages: 267
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