Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Book Review: Chesapeake Crimes - Invitation to Murder, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman & Marcia Talley

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Many inventive crime short stories
Cons: A few that were too dark for me.
The Bottom Line:
Story collection
Invitation and murder
Plenty of fun here

Accept this Invitation to Seventeen Murders

The Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime is back with Invitation to Murder, the seventh collection of short stories from their members.  I had a privilege of reading an advanced copy, and as always, there are some fun stories here.

The theme this time is invitations, and each story features an invitation of some kind.  Some of them are obvious and formal, like the invitation to tea in “Secrest to the Grave” by K. M. Rockwood.  Most are less obvious, like the casual invitation to do an escape room that forms the set up to “The Mysterious Affair at the Escape Room” by Leone Ciporin.  Don’t get too caught up on finding the invitation in each story, just sit back and enjoy the rides.

The collection opens with one of my favorites, “The Dame and Thaddeus Birdwhistle.”  This story from Karen Cantwell features a mother whose young son is writing a hard-boiled detective novel.  To say more will spoil the fun, but trust me, you need to read this one.

What do you do when a guest overstays her welcome?  That’s the dilemma tackled in “The Problem with Openended Invitations” by Cathy Wiley.  This was a fun story with a creative plot.

Another favorite was “The Great Bedbug Incident and the Invitation of Doom” by Eleanor Cawood Jones.  I mean, how can you miss with a title like that?

For pure innovation, there’s “Good Morning, Green Leaf Class” by Sarah Cotter.  A story told completely through an email string, this one made me laugh as I was reading.

Over the course of the collection, we head to South America, Hawaii, turn of last century South Carolina, and a retirement home.  The plots are as varied as the locations.  A couple I had figured out early, but many caught me by surprised until the final twist.

As in any short story collection, there are a few stories that won’t be for every taste.  That’s the case again here for me with a few that were darker than I enjoyed.  But they were at a minimum, and with seventeen stories in the collection, the vast majority were completely entertaining.

It’s nice every so often to get to read an entire story in one sitting, something I can’t do with a novel.  If you are looking for bite size stories, you’ll be glad you picked up Invitation to Murder.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this collection.

1 comment:

  1. We appreciate the review, Mark. So glad you enjoyed the book.