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13 April 2013

Published by Whortleberry Press USA. Fifth in a series, 16 stories, 1 poem.

Guest Reviewer Steve Johnson

I was really pleased when Lyn emailed to say this was in. She’d promised I could read and review it and as my experiences with this publisher’s anthologies have always been pretty possitive I was keen to get my hands on it. I wasn’t disappointed either. Of the sixteen stories I really enjoyed eight. Of the eight I didn’t like so much this wasn’t any defect of theirs, but personal preference on my part.

And friend or not I have to say this time that I honestly enjoyed Lyn McConchie’s story the most. It’s the tale of two kids, their coldly dominating father, and the puppy the younger boy gets for his birthday. It says a lot about what receiving or having love withheld can do to a child, and how resentments can hang on for years. And yet, in the end the Mystery of Lucky is solved and that leads to a happier outcome. My equal favourite was Marion Powell’s Fluffy Goes Out. A clever tale of a cat, an alien investigator, and how Fluffy has a part in the resolution of the problem that is Earth’s humans. I smiled and enjoyed, and will make a note of this writer. After that I liked Warren Bull’s, Luck of the Irish and Lee Hammerschmidt’s Urgent Care. An excellent duo, with the former covering the nature of luck and what can happen to those who become involved with the wrong person, and the later dealing with greed, jealousy, and a not-unexpected outcome of both. Followed by John Rust’s very good Nick of Time, in which the Bermuda Triangle comes to the rescue of a sailor who can’t seem to get to his job in time. Satisfying and intriguing.

James Hartley’s Lucy Lucky was clever, I was wondering through most of the story where it was going, but the ending was neatly tied off. No disappointment there. Ditto Bruce Markuson’s Speak Easy of Murder, which took a cold case killing and resolved it in a way that made good and gratifying sense. I tend to like short stories better than a full-length book and Whortleberry Press’s anthologies have been a very pleasant addition to my reading list. Somewhere this publisher finds an ever-lengthening list of competent contributors and editors, and I can only hope that her good fortune in this and mine as one of her readers continues.

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