Anthologies are always tough to pull off. The biggest difficulty is navigating the space between the different voices – this occurs whether one reads a short story anthology or an anthology of novellas such as “Third Degree: 3 Authors, 3 Novellas” by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara, and Charles Salzberg (Down & Out Books; 2020). Add to that that a novella itself is a difficult beast – does it have the room of a novel or the urgency of a short story? I lean toward the latter. Oddly, all three novellas – “Cut Loose All Those Who Drag You Down” by Ross Klavan, “Beaned’ by Tim O’Mara, and “The Fifth Column” by Charles Salzberg – are told in the first person which forced me to have an extended paused between readings, sort of a palate cleanser between voices.
Klavan’s novella, which was my favorite of the three, is told by a narrator who seemingly can’t keep a coherent thread going. Klavan’s seemingly disjointed tale works well mainly because of a staple of crime fiction – the unlikeable character. Ex-Doctor Solly is so unlikeable you wouldn’t want to buy him a beer, but Solly kept my interested through out.
I did have problems with O’Mara’s and Salzberg’s novellas for different reasons. In “Beaned”, nothing happened in the first several chapters, not few or a couple, but several chapters. As a reader, I need to be grabbed at the beginning and not teased with something that may or may not happen in the future. “The Fifth Column” uses the a crime fiction trope usually found in police procedurals or detective stories – I call it the gut trope. The gut trope is one where the protagonist, against all logic, follows a path to a crime and its criminals that no one would have thought of. I’m not a huge fan of the gut trope, but if you are an aficionado of police procedurals, you will probably enjoy Salzberg’s novella.
This review was part of a blog tour. To see other reviews of “Third Degree” click here.
I’m on vacation in the land of the Hatfields and McCoys. Cell phone connectivity is non-existent and wi-fi is spotty at best. This is my last post this week, except a review that will magically get posted on Friday.
Here are several sites that I go to on a regular basis to get a run down of crime fiction news and reviews. You should too.
Kevin’s Corner, which luck has it is run by a Kevin, specifically KevinTipple is an indispensable website if you follow crime fiction. Kevin covers all sorts of crime fiction on his website and it should be a daily stop for you.
Next up is dru’s book musings by Dru Ann Love. It focuses more on the cozy side of the tracks but police procedurals and psychological thrillers make the presence known.
J. Kingston Pierce’s The Rap Sheet is also an important website to visit regularly. Pierce also runs Killer Covers, which focuses on, you guessed it, book covers.
Another important crime news and reviews site is Kristopher Zgorski’s BOLO Books which was received the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 2018.
Yeah, I know these are all sites based in the US, so I’ve got some work to do next time I post something like this again.
If you haven’t watched “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix, please do so. A lot of what is covered is stuff we already know, specifically we all live in a social media bubble, but there are some scary tidbits. Though the documentary peters out towards the end as it tries to wrap everything in a nice red bow, it’s still worth the 94 minutes of your life. I also wasn’t a fan with after-school special style of the docudrama that was interspersed throughout the more important interviews, but I get it – maybe that’s an effective way to get the message out to more people.
The big takeaway that we all tend to forget as we scroll through our social media addictions is that these companies are selling our attention to advertisers as well as manipulating what we see.