Death on a Cold Night, by Jess Faraday
It’ s a comforting evening to me when I can curl up in my chair with hot chocolate in one hand and a new book in the other. When I looked up from the fourth short story in Elm Books’ recent publication of Death on a Cold Night, “A Theft of Teapots,” I realized that two hours had slipped by and my own tea was untouched. Jess Faraday has put together a fascinating collection of well-written short stories, and though I’m not usually a fan of mysteries, I was smitten.
One thing that stood out to me was how real, and varied, the characters and locations of the stories were. While every story had deep, well-defined characters, the most notable example is Elvis in Lee Mullens’ “Burnt December.” He is a character that brings life to every scene he is in, and he is very real and very well defined in spite of the story taking less than forty pages.
One thing you expect from a short story is that it will, in spite of taking much less of your time than a full book, deliver a complete plot. None of these stories disappoint. In spite of their length, most of these stories have a twist at the end, as is expected, even hoped for, in the mystery genre. Several of the stories, notably Leonhard August’s “Storm of Mystery,” Mark Hague’s “In the Public Eye,” and Christalea McMullin’s “Club Pandemonium,” could easily expand into longer works. In spite of this, each story is succinct and comes to a satisfying, if unexpected, end.
Overall, Death on a Cold Night is a grand little gem, whether you wish for an introduction to mystery as a genre, or simply desire a short reprieve from your main course of reading.
Senior Contributing Editor
Open Window Review