Lies I Never Told by Martin Crosbie is a collection of five short stories and five samples from longer novels. The novels begin with My Temporary Life Book One. The last short story, Afternoons with Angela, appears at the end of this collection, I moved it for this review. If you open the sidebar of Kindle to look at the table of contents, the information displayed is confusing as to the order of presentation and content. But that doesn’t take away from the excellence of the writing. This, and all of the novels Crosbie refers to can be read on Kindle Unlimited for “free.” This collection displayed writing so impressive I bought it after I read it so that I can keep it in my collection of writing that will impress my students. There is a great diversity of perspectives revealed in this collection. Geographically, the writing perspectives cover England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the US. There is writing from the perspectives of youth and military service. There is an almost paranormal perspective where the narrator is a woman. This is a collection with something for all readers. Brief summaries follow.
The Absence of Guilt
This is a story about regrets for things missed while young. We may be familiar with attempts to recapture youth, to go back and have a “do-over.” William felt that way. He made the attempt. However, there are things that don’t change. He would always be William.
Blind Men Don’t Cry
Here is a story for parents. There are children we knew who have grown into adults we don’t know. Since they are our grown equals now; leading lives as busy, diverse, and filled as our own, we literally don’t have time to really know each other in our new, changed relationships. So we return to a default view. Our children retain their identity as our children, the twenty-year-old child that was eleven years old only ten minutes ago.
Any Night but Friday
Uncle always came on Friday night to get his weekend money from the boy’s mother. The work week was a standard five-day week that demanded a conscious presence to get the job done. The weekend was for drinking. This routine was fine for Uncle until payday was changed to Monday. How could a man keep his pay intact for five days so the important weekend work could be done? He couldn’t. Mom, his sister, would have to fill the temporary financial hole with just a few small contributions, ones made every week. Mom understood. After all, it was her brother. But Dad never got it.
Wendy isn’t Coming Home
Wendy left but there was still Spock, the cat. Wendy had arrived with Spock but left without him. The Man was at a loss to define his new solitary existence. One way to define it was what was left, by what Wendy had not taken. Why was the picture frame gone but not the picture? The Man is at a loss. It is up to Spock to begin a slow step-by-step series of moves to define the new relationship.
Afternoons with Angela
This is different from all other short stories here in that there is a sexual component. It is good, not unnecessarily graphic but it is necessary to the story. Just a warning for those sensitive to that sort of thing. This is a very sad, depressing story; so much so that I won’t go into further details here except to say that it is very well written. It invites the reader to use imagination to complete details.
My Temporary Life Book One
This is a sampler and an introduction to a place where the reader can buy the full novel, My Temporary Life. Based on this beginning, an account of the difficulties thirteen-year-old boys have tried to cope with in school life, I will read the rest of Book One. The boys in this account have more problems than most. Gerald and Malcolm are best friends in class 2B, a class of misfits. Class 2A has the regular kids. Everyone in class 2B has some kind of special problem. Malcolm’s parents are divorced and he shuttles between them to live for temporary periods of time based on his school schedule. Gerald drinks alcoholic mixtures of his own making. Others in class 2B have relatives in prison or criminal relatives yet to be caught. Classes 2A and 2B have always been kept apart unless a teacher is absent. When the two classes are forced together problems explode as an insecure teacher fights for student acceptance.
My Temporary Life Book Two
This is a sample short story from the author’s longer novel My Name is Hardly. In this sample we meet Hardly, the assigned nickname of Gerald from Book One. It is much later, Gerald (Hardly) has already served twenty years in the Army. He is on “attic duty” in a cramped and by now smelly location with Malcolm. The two are on protection duty for the Gallagher family living in the lower part of the house. The Gallaghers are providing information to Hardly’s superiors about the Provos. It seems the IRA may have figured out the true loyalties of the Gallaghers. But do they know of the existence of Malcolm and Hardly?
My Temporary Life Book Three
In this prequel short story to All Good Men Must Fall, the reader again meets Malcolm, who is away on a mission to Hardly’s house to make sure Hardly is coping with Flora’s desertion without an excessive reliance on alcohol. Mom and fifteen-year-old daughter Emily are alone in the house. Except for the ghost. Ghosts aren’t real for Emily but, as we see here, for Mom it is a different story.
Believing Again: A Tale Of Two Christmases
Here is a prequel to the novel with the same name (above). Brother and sister Stephen and Allyson experienced tragedy when their parents were killed shortly after their high school graduation. Allyson got married, had children, and built a family life that Stephen envied. Stephen joined the Army and on one of his returns to Seattle for a tour of duty as a training officer, met Myra, a co-worker with Allyson at a mall supermarket. After a six-month relationship, Stephen was scheduled to return to Afghanistan. Myra and Stephen were married days before his departure for a one-year tour. But there was something about Myra. Allyson had told Stephen to be careful but had only hinted at something in Myra’s background. What would happen when Stephen returned?
The Dead List
Drake is a cop barely above rookie status. He only has four months job seniority on Van Dyke but he is fifteen years older. But that four months made him first officer on the scene and in charge of an investigation into what or who killed Michael Robinson. His body had been found on the street just blocks from the police station. It looked like he might have fallen and split his head open in an accident. The strong smell of alcohol supported that. But a feeling of “something not right” caused Drake to stop the paramedics as they prepared to transport the body. Drake called in resources for a wider investigation as paramedic Rempel complained about the time they would have to wait in the steadily increasing downpour of rain for resource arrival. But almost rookie police officer Drake was in charge as he attempted make up for the weaknesses of all others who responded to the crime scene.