This is a collection of short stories that I received from the Library Thing Early Reviewer Program in exchange for a review. The book is Dangerous Obsessions by Bob Van Laerhoven. My comments are about each story. Some of them are translations; some were written in English by the author.
HEARTS DON’T BEAT ON LETTERS
Jean-Claude recounts his experiences of a war in Algeria while a member of the French Foreign Legion. Many fellow soldiers came from varied backgrounds; some were escaping from their past deeds. His German friend Bisserund was one of them. Bisserund would pay a terrible price while helping our storyteller.
CHECKMATE IN CHIMBOTE
Willi the amateur jewel thief played chess with Marina even though he was unsure of the rules. He should have stuck with his job on the TV crew that was making a documentary at the house of a Peruvian arms dealer. But he had met Marina, a worker at the villa. He had fallen in love. He would have stolen the diamonds and run away with Marina without the blackmail threats from her brothers. The theft was a success. Now he just had to meet Marina, but more and more things were looking like a set-up. Somebody was following him. There were police in places where normally there were none. Was Marina playing the game as the Queen and he the King? Or was he just a pawn to her Queen?
THE PRODIGAL SON
There are dangers in keeping a diary. Who might read and discover your secrets? And this particular diary held a huge secret. There are two lives at stake. But only one of the children can live. Their mother must choose. Mother has long since disappeared into the darkness of Alzheimer’s Disease. But the diary survived. Which child survived? A story derived from experiences in the Congo.
LILIES OF THE VALLEY
It wasn’t only Jews that went to the ovens during the holocaust. And not all Gypsies belonged to the same tribe; each tribe had a unique talent. Kori’s sister does what she has to do to survive. This means becoming a whore for Franz Maurer, the camp commandant, but she only does so to assure Kori’s survival, get him more food, guarantee that he will not go to the ovens, and get him a violin. When assurances are broken and Kori is sent to the ovens, Sister plans revenge. Exposing Maurer’s shortcomings in public to senior commandant Holle, she gets revenge on Maurer and a job outside the barracks for herself. Her revenge will continue as she promises a magic beauty potion to Holle’s daughter, Lotte, and then does not deliver it. But she has described to Lotte how to make it.
THE BOGEYMAN AND REGINA THE STREET-WENCH
The Bogeyman is a freelance combat correspondent. He travels with marines into Monrovia, Liberia. When the action gets chaotic and people are fleeing for their lives, he becomes detached from his escort. He knows where they will be in a couple of days, he just has to survive until then. There are many factions fighting in Monrovia: government troops, opposition groups, and even a well-organized group with a leader who believes those fight best who fight nude. Fleeing from unidentified gunfire, Bogeyman meets Sister Spinoza, a nun dedicated to rescuing child soldiers from becoming experienced child soldiers. Regina, a former child soldier who has already lost a leg, doesn’t quite understand why she can’t seduce Bogeyman and get a ride out of the conflict zone when the marine helicopter arrives. Sister Spinoza wants Bogeyman to get out. With her and her child soldiers if possible. Ok, maybe without her. Ok, maybe just with pictures to prove the atrocities. Ok, maybe just get out as a personal witness. But how about Regina?