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Eighteen Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2004
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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From Publishers Weekly
The acclaimed author of the Irene Kelly mystery series (Goodnight, Irene, etc.) and the Edgar award-winning novel Bones delivers this superb collection of short stories, hitherto available only in a limited trade edition from A.S.A.P. Publishing. These early works, which appeared in publications like Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, display an impressive range of styles, voices and settings. Burke offers ghost stories ("Ghost of a Chance"), romantic suspense ("The Muse"), a whodunit ("A Fine Set of Teeth"), a tale of revenge ("Miscalculation") and a humorous intrigue ("The Man in the Civil Suit"), and the voices she adopts are as disparate as an abused wife and an aristocratic gentleman (and, at one point, even a non-human narrator). It would be a challenge for readers to choose their favorite, as all the stories are carefully crafted gems: "Mea Culpa" follows a crippled boy as he deduces what his stepfather has in store for his mother; "Miscalculation," which is based on the wartime service of the Queen Mary ocean liner, effectively transmutes history into mystery; and "Unharmed" tells a surprising tale of domestic strife. Several of the stories won or were nominated for awards, and virtually all of them repay the reader handsomely.
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Jonathan Kellerman A delightful collection of page-turners. At turns chilling, funny, poignant -- and always insightful. With these stories, Jan Burke's at the top of her game.
Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) The consummate storyteller.
Jeffery Deaver Astonishing...wry...these stories are sure to delight.
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characters...Irene Kelly and her husband Frank.
I evaluated each story individually, and all of them received a rating between four and five stars, with the average being 4.5. Eight of the stories received five stars from me:
1) The Mouse: Looks at how things are for kids in school, how peer pressure may prevent someone from being proud of her actions, and how this changes in adulthood.
2) Revised Endings: Harriet feels miserable when she is assigned a new editor, who is obnoxious and demands changes in the ending of her latest novel.
3) Ghost of a Chance: A ghost visits a woman shortly after the death of her husband, who was murdered on a shooting by.
4) Unharmed: In this story, winner of the Readers Award from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and the Macavity Award, Alex recounts the death of a woman calibrating his involvement in it.
5) Mea Culpa: A boy tries to deal with the death of his father in a car accident and with a confession he listens his stepfather make acknowledging he wants to abandon the kid's mother.
6) An Unsuspected Condition of the Heart: Rossiter writes a letter in which he relates the vicissitudes he went through when he found Lord Dallingham on the road with his phaeton overturned.
7) The Abbey Ghost: In this Edgar Award Nominee story, Edward and Lucien scare their bad side of the family away using the legend of a ghost protecting a treasure in the abbey over which their castle was built. Years later when one of them dies, he becomes a "real ghost" in order to help the other one in dealing with a murderer.
8) Devotion: Frank Harriman, Irene Kelly's husband, along with some of the characters from "Bones" takes part in this story where a young boy goes missing after his father is murdered.
Besides the eight stories listed above, the collection includes the first Irene Kelly short story, "A fine set of teeth" and an Agatha Award nominee, "The man in the civil suit". Jan Burke displays an amazing variety in the stories, dealing with different time periods, types of characters, plots and viewpoints. This is a collection of stories you cannot miss! - 4.5 stars
Fans of Bones will want to read "Devotion" which showcases some of the same characters. After Detective Frank Harriman finds the murdered body of Victor Toller and learns his son is missing, he calls Ben Sheridan and asks him to do a search with his two SAR dogs Bingle and Bool.
The very popular Irene Kelly stars in "A Fine Set of Teeth". Irene and her husband Frank give musician Buzz Sullivan a lift to his music gig. They stay to hear the performance only to be awakened early the next morning to find out the lead singer has been killed.
In "MEA CULPA' a crippled young boy finds ways of protecting himself from his abusive step-father. However, when he discovers that the man is going to kill his mother, he must find a way to stop him. This intriguing story has a feel of Charles Dickens Victorian England even though it takes place in the United States.
Vampire lovers will want to read "The Haunting of Carrick Hollow", an atmospheric tale that is quite scary while ghost lovers will find "The Abbey Ghosts" actually enthralling.
The above is just a sample to whet the appetite. Readers will find themselves totally immersed in each and every story.
First time I was in college, I majored in English Literature. I really enjoyed all of it including Chaucer, Shakespeare, Twain, Dickens, poetry by John Donne and Emily Dickinson...but I must have had a lousy teacher when it came to short stories. I hated the things. They were so often dark and I could not relate to the stories at all. I think there is one short story I still remember from that time about a boy on a rocking horse who couldn't stop rocking because as long as he did it his father/family won money. It was a really dark story...
I almost tossed this book aside when I realized it was a collection of short stories. I am glad that I didn't. I mowed through this book in two days straight and probably would have done it faster if I hadn't had other things to do. These stories are not all mysteries, and when they do involve mysteries, they are mysteries about what makes people tick. The last story was about a small boy whose abusive father dies. The local law enforcement wade through the evidence and a story is told in what is found about this boy and those people, such as his neighboring young teenager, who want to keep this boy safe.
All of these stories show great thought, and great effort, and great knowledge of humanity.
A really great addition to our American literature that will be missed by many unfortunately, the same way I almost missed it...