What Leads A Man to Murder by Joslyn Chase is a collection of twelve short stories in a different format from what I usually see. I am one of those annoying readers who will even comment on a Table of Content page, as I am about to do. The structure of this TOC page is unusual. There is a story title, followed by a passage of several lines that gives the reader an idea of what the story will be about. The way this passage is broken into jagged lines made me think that at first, I was looking at poetry. That did not turn out to be the case, but if the reader keeps the words in mind, they contribute an element to the story. Following this introduction comes the story, which is then followed by an author’s note describing where the muse for the story was hiding. Joslyn Chase is deprecating as she informs readers of her success, or lack of it, as far as story publication. This review will look only at the stories, but if you get a chance, read the notes. They are also good.
A brief, perhaps unnecessary aside to the Politically Correct Police might be in order. Let’s agree to not target the title of this collection with meaningless barbed rants. We should be able to accept that a woman can also be led to commit murder. Happy now? This kind of disclaimer ranks right up there with meaningless trigger warnings and pandering acknowledgments of potential micro-aggressions. If it bothers you, turn off the TV, close the book, and go out to a bar. Authors cannot consider the sensibilities of every reader in advance. Snowflakes melt too slowly. End of rant.
What Leads A Man To Murder ***** This story left me thinking. As I read it, I kept changing my mind as to who the murderer was. Despite my changing views, at the end of the story, I was wrong.
Adalet ***** Some siblings go all out in support of each other. Then there is Adalet. She went further than I can imagine anyone going in favor of a family member. But there was a cost; it changed Adalet.
Furrows ***** If you hang around the planet any significant amount of time, you will most likely have a hospital experience. We can discount for a moment that many people experienced birth in a hospital. The hospital in this story is a mental hospital, but I predict that this type of hospital has one thing in common with any medical facility. The food is horrible. Along with death, taxes, and the inevitability of change, lousy hospital food occupies a place on a list of verities. This story might be pushing that idea further than it needs to go.
A Simple Glass of Water ***** Ruben was poor and not all that intelligent. But he knew the parents of Iris were rich. Kidnap Iris, collect a ransom, and Ruben was out of here. He would run far and hide well. But the plan did not work out as Ruben had worked it out. Now he is not going to run nor is he going to disappear. What happened? It might have been the chocolate milkshake.
Tickling The Tiger ***** Some use the word serendipity when things seem to come together and work out. To reach that goal of things working out, a lot of unfortunate events would have to happen first. A death that was a murder. Who was the murderer? Lifetime oaths would be broken in a way that guaranteed a ruined future for otherwise good people. Everything is somehow tied together by the story’s title; read to find out the meaning of the title. The following statement is from the author in notes, and thus I don’t consider it a spoiler. This story is based on actual events.
The Sodden Spectators ***** Margot’s best friend Belinda was engaged to Abel Grandy, a partner of Jordan Phillips. John was a man deeply depressed who had killed himself. The problem was that the body had not been found. Any investigation as to whether the death was a suicide, or homicide would focus on partner Abel. Margot seems to take the view that Abel was innocent, although that may have come from blind loyalty to her friend. Luckily, Margot had an elderly Aunt Cathryn, a writer of crime novels. Maybe Cathryn could prove that Jordan committed suicide so Able could marry Belinda without worrying about going to jail soon after the honeymoon. Cathryn had a solution, perhaps more than one. The elderly Aunt should surprise readers with her findings. Readers who appreciate writers (and what would we do without them) will appreciate some of the wordplay in this story.
Blessings and Curses on a Calico Cat ***** This story is humorous on several levels. An unnamed Southern Belle (SB) uses language in a way that will amuse may readers. Then there is the dead cat. While burying it, SB had found a gold coin. Thinking there was more to be had she dug until the sun was “thinking on going down” (loc 1383). A sentient sun. A setting sentient sun. Alliteration runs wild. SB then digs up the cat to find it was pointing in the opposite direction to where she was digging. Think about that a moment. Then SB changed the course of excavation. Read this amusing story to find out what she did, and didn’t, discover.
Bedtime Story ***** Adam didn’t have many friends. They didn’t appreciate the notebook he carried everywhere to record data. Everything was data to Adam. He recorded the times when their mothers called them all home for dinner. Then a huge event happened in the neighborhood. Adults didn’t get it, but Adam did and began to record data. All his friends were now data.
Rachmaninoff’s Peasant ***** Georgia is a sad girl determined to break from an impoverished past into a world filled with fame and recognition of her talent. It seems she got stopped on the way. Her story didn’t matter much to me because I got caught up in the music, or at least the descriptions of it.
Absolution ***** A man approached a priest wanting to confess. He wanted to admit to helping a man and his family. In assisting the family, he had condemned them. The confessor had somehow worked through his guilt. Think of the plight the priest must feel himself in.
.A Touch of Native Color ***** On the birth certificate the name was George Henry. Due to lineage and age, he became Chief George Henry. Due to fishing skills, his name morphed to Chief Redfish. George knew himself to be a con man, but as he thought, sometimes out loud, it beat working in the casinos. Just because he was a conman didn’t mean he could recognize similar talent in others. Joe and Alexis taught the Chief a few tricks, some of which he would never admit as tricks. Doris woke him up to a new way of looking at things.
Song of The Gondolier ***** Joslyn Chase describes this as a ” backward-told” tale. The form is as entertaining as the content. Several deceptions are going on. The story is fast-moving, even if it is in reverse.
The story collection is a five-star Amazon read. It is USD 3.49 on Amazon and is not available on Kindle Unlimited. The quality and presentation of the stories are worth the purchase price. I will look for more books by Joslyn Chase.