3 August 2009

Review: MALICE DOMESTIC 5, various authors, Phyllis A. Whitney (edit.)

A collection of 17 short stories, some of which were shortlisted in 1996 for the Agatha award for short stories. ISBN: 0671896326
There are a variety of readers.

Contents: courtesy IBL

  • Mysteries of Manners, Labors of Love by Phyllis A. Whitney
  • Conventual Spirit by Sharan Newman
  • Double Jeopardy by Eileen Dreyer
  • Shelved [Susannah Maria “Suze” Figueroa] by Barbara D’Amato
  • Takeout by Joyce Christmas
  • Crossed Keys by Patricia Moyes
  • Ham Grease Jimmy and the No Shirt Kid by Sue Henry
  • The Death of Erik the Redneck [Laura Fleming] by Toni L. P. Kelner
  • The Bun Also Rises by Jill Churchill
  • Hill People by Dean Feldmeyer
  • Barbecued Bimbo by Susan Rogers Cooper
  • Honeymoon by Nancy Atherton
  • Vivian by Moonlight by Medora Sale
  • A Parrot Is Forever by Peter Lovesey
  • Married to a Murderer by Alan Russell
  • Bugged by Eve K. Sandstrom
  • Accidents Will Happen by Carolyn Wheat
Edited by: Phyllis A. Whitney and Martin H. Greenberg

I downloaded this collection from audible.com and began listening at a bit of a disadvantage, when the copy I transferred to my iPod Nano refused to begin playing with the first story. In fact it began playing about 80 minutes in, so I was anchored to my computer for the first stories. This had the additional impact of me being uncertain that I had listened to them all.

The first couple of stories at least are a bit longer than short (or at least my definition of short).

The best stories:
  • Accidents will Happen by Carolyn Wheat. A night nurse makes life for an elderly woman confined to bed utterly miserable, to the point where the old woman, once a professor of art, wants to kill her.
  • A Parrot is Forever by Peter Lovesey. This was the reason I got hold of this collection in the first place. Peter Lovesey is one of my favourite authors. Roger is a large and racous blue and yellow macaw left to the narrator by an uncle whom he had had little to do with. Roger is rather unexpectedly stolen and turns out to be the guardian of the narrator's true inheritance.
  • The Bun Also Rises by Jill Churchill. Two elderly friends are distressed when a third, immobilised by a broken leg, dies from a stroke. They are dismayed to find that their friend has changed her will, or rather, written a new one, disinheriting her daughter, and leaving all her wealth to her nurse. They feel convinced their friend would not have done this voluntarily, but how can they prove it?
I found it difficult to know which story I was listening to. The collection could have been put together a bit better, with better spacing between the stories. Each story is read by a different narrator, and the title of the story, and the name of the author, is often read rather quickly just as you are getting used to a new voice. Some of the readers were better than others, and there was a wide disparity in reading styles. Nevertheless it is an enjoyable collection.

Listen to an excerpt from the first story.

My rating: 4.2

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