Crueler and More Unusual by Erik Dean is an anthology of stories about the judicial system and how it may develop in the future. Dummy is a chilling tale of how, despite the barrage of information available, there are still people who think it is okay to drink and drive. Robert Holman is such a person and he has consistently offended and chose to ignore the warnings. Many people believe that the punishment should fit the crime. Dummy is a tale of what happens when that belief is adhered to. Early Release is the story of a young man who has been caught up in the justice system but is given the chance to gain his freedom with the Early Release program. His victim's family have a limited amount of time to exact their punishment, but Kelvin receives help from a most unlikely source.
Public Pool is a story about the crime of passion and greed. Business partners who have overcome many obstacles to make their business successful are halted by a final twist in their relationship. This classic tale is cleverly told with a jaw-dropping finale! Broken Justice is a chilling look into what could happen if the courts were dehumanized. All manners of crimes are dealt with by technology, and justice is meted out swiftly and brutally. What happens though when Mother Nature has taken center stage and threatens to disrupt the system? Can justice compete with Nature or will it be found wanting?
I loved this book! Erik Dean is a storyteller of the highest caliber and I was gripped by Crueler and More Unusual. His vision of a judicial system of the future is especially terrifying as it is so plausible. The subject of capital punishment is a contentious one, whatever your beliefs, and the subject is handled perfectly. I cannot wait to check out Erik Dean's other titles and will highly recommend this book to friends. This is a great read and would look amazing on screen! Watch out for those twists; they will leave you open mouthed!
You'll find intrigue, love, betrayal, gore and intense action in these stories, each written to entertain readers and make them feel chills at times. I love this author's ability to write clearly and in a concise manner. In very short paragraphs, readers are offered a whole story with a beautiful structure and characters that actually undergo some form of transformation. The art of the short story demands a certain skill and Erik Dean seems to have it in abundance. This author is a great storyteller who will entertain you in few minutes. And you don't have to stay up the whole night reading to reach the climax -- it came faster than I could have expected. Crueler and More Unusual: Four More Short Stories of Judicial Horror features focused writing, great economy of word, and prose that sings to the reader's ears. I loved each of these stories, from plot structure to conflict to character.
Using a very simple style of writing that won't tax your vocabulary, Dean uses lots of dialogue and the stories are propelled by plot and action, rather than character. He presents four different scenarios set some time in the future to address current social issues and technological developments like self-driving cars, reliance on cell phones, digital reporting on social media and more. At the same time, Dean's future world still grapples with drunk drivers, felon punishment and the age-old problems like adultery, business competition, greed and murder. Yes, it's a mixed bag of good and evil, a touch of the paranormal, and some really peculiar and unexpected twists.
Dean's thrust in these stories is to present some possible nasty outcomes for those who disobey the law in a future society and how justice might be meted out. It's frightening to say the least and it's not the kind of world you would want to live in. No story captures that as well as the last one, where you can be vaporized for something as minor as a speeding ticket! Add to that the nightmare of how something as commonplace as an electrical storm could result in vaporizing the wrong person when computerized circuits might suddenly blow at the wrong time, and you have a real horror story. Suspend your own disbelief and read Crueler and More Unusual at your own peril and pace. Chilling!
My personal favorite from the four stories presented was Early Release. Without giving the whole plot away, in the near future the system has changed for prisons. An unlucky inmate is chosen for something called Early Release. It seems like a dream come true, however, that's not the case. Early Release gives the family of the victims the lawful right to kill the inmate. They only have twenty-four hours to hunt the prisoner down, but to keep it fair the inmate can't skip town or else they face being shot down by drones. If they survive, they're a free man. I was honestly taken aback, it was such an original premise to me. Not only are we given this premise, but the point of view will give readers the feeling of empathy as the inmate became the hunted. Erik Dean did a fantastic job and I would urge others to give Crueler and More Unusual a read.