Undercover: Crime Shorts by Jane Risdon
I’ve had the pleasure of reading many blog posts written by Jane Risdon and quite a few interviews featuring her and her work. Her career has taken some fascinating turns, including rock star management and a stint in the UK government as part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Undercover: Crime Shorts is a page-turning collection of standalone short stories, each of which is totally unique and gives the reader a taste of Risdon’s writerly imagination and wide-ranging storytelling skills.
There are six stories in the collection, not including the tantalizing teaser for the first book in Risdon’s not-yet-released series, Ms. Birdsong Investigates.
On to the stories. Each one is different, but they all share the same voice of intrigue, trickery, and an unsettling sense of danger.
Sweet Sable: The Red Siren is a story of revenge. I would not want to find myself on Sable’s bad side.
Apartment 206c is a frightening and mindbending tale of what can happen when we pry into other people’s business;
Murder by Christmas is an ingenious example of the lengths one person will go to in order to get what he or she wants (and my favorite story in the collection);
The Watchers is an all-too-real glimpse of a stalker’s prey and one that will remind you to keep your blinds closed at night.
The Honey Trap is one of the shorter stories in the book and a terrifying look into the world of international espionage and misogyny;
The Look is another story of revenge, but differs from the first book in the collection because there’s a certain element of poetic justice in the conclusion.
CAVEAT: This is a gritty collection and if cozy mysteries represent the extent of the sex and violence you’ll tolerate in a mystery, most of these stories are not for you.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes short mysteries that explore dark issues, readers who like strong female protagonists, and readers who appreciate morally conflicted main characters. Not all the stories have all these traits, but in general I believe these are solid characterizations.
Until next time,