This is an impressive collection of short stories. Most of them are horror, but there are a couple of suspense while some crossover with SF. The writing is succinct and well paced while the stories are gruesome.
One suspenseful tale covers porn flicks for the internet and pulls no punches, either about the people who make them or who star in them. The humiliation and dehumanisation is highlighted well, yet the stories of some of the people involved let you feel some pity. But not much.
The title story highlights Grimwood’s ability to crossover Horror and SF and is, frankly, disturbing. The main male character, Rob, gave me the creeps from the outset. Although he seemed a troubled character there was something in the way he was written that led me to believe there was an unpalatable undercurrent to his character.
As Rob embarks on an affair with Miriam his past comes back and finally Miriam finds out about it. Rob keeps trying to justify it to himself as the story ends.
Jar of Flies is another Horror story where the battle between good and evil takes place in a small village. While this may be a trope of sorts, the story telling is superb and is one of the best in the book.
It starts with a murder. A married couple have killed each other in the local church and the new priest, Karen, wants to pray for them there, but is kept away by the police.
More deaths occur and the reason behind them becomes clearer as the story goes on. Each time, flies congregate in an odd pattern.
Karen hears about an older lady who has returned to the village, a woman who left many years ago under a cloud. Karen goes to see her, despite warnings, and finds her not as described. She does find a jar of flies with odd habits.
The ending is as unexpected as it is superb.
The final story of the collection, NM, is one of the most disturbing. Part Horror, part satire, it concerns the death of a princess and people’s reactions to it. Anyone who doesn’t mourn in public is considered an NM and a public enemy. The results are fatal and, given the current political climate, too possible.
All but one of these stories have been published in various magazines and short story collections over the past two decades, including the BFS Journal and BFS Horizons. It’s not an eclectic mix, but there will be something for most to enjoy. Some stories raise questions about life and its meaning, others about the way we are and how we live.
I can highly recommend it.