Friday, July 29, 2011

Indie Author M.T. O'Neil - Break Room Anthology: Mystery and Horror Stories

I've discovered a sure-fire way to get a book bumped to the top of my to-be-read list. Send me a hard copy of the book. Oh, and it helps if it is written well, otherwise, I may put it down and forget about it for a while. At any rate, I love getting books in the mail, so much cooler than getting a file emailed to me. When I open the packages, my two year old likes to look at them, flip through the pages, and then "keep them safe" for me.

I got Break Room Anthology: Mystery and Horror Stories Break Room Anthology: Mystery and Horror Stories (link to paperback on amazon) in the mail a few days ago and sat down to begin reading it yesterday. I finished up with the final story today. I'm not sure that I would classify these stories as horror, but my definition of horror may be too narrow. They are more like stories with horrible endings. I don't mean that the author did a bad job with the ending, in fact, I love the way the endings were never over explained. They didn't seem to be under explained either, which in my opinion, is a difficult task. The actions of the characters, or the circumstances of the endings, were just crazy. I was actually horrified at what some of these characters did and got away with. Stories with a twist ending.

My biggest complaint with the book was the author's use of commas. Commas aren't needed before every use of a conjunction. Overused commas, fortunately, don't typically kill a book for me. (Underused commas, however, can kill a book, IMO.)

The first story in the book is written from the point of view of a child. Probably an elementary school aged child. Poor, too. The author does an excellent job capturing the voice of an underprivileged child in about second or third grade. Having worked with kids in this age group, and socioeconomic status, it was frightening. I could picture some of my former students concocting a plan similar to this child's, even if they would never follow through with it.

The author does a good job throughout the twenty five stories with the characters' voices. I never went from one story to another confused; it was so clear that someone else was doing the telling. Each character had his or her own personality, his or her own voice. (Another author who did this well was Monique Mensah in Who is He to You.)

My personal favorite story was about a grieving husband who is a suspect in his wife's death. It is clear to the police that she had been poisoned with cyanide, but no one seems to know where it came from. By the end of the story, the husband is cleared, the death ruled an accident, but the reader is fully aware of who the killer is. I can generally guess where an author is going with their mystery ending before the grande finale, but this one got me. I had no idea, and that pleased me.

I'm looking forward to more of M.T. O'Neil's short stories. Hopefully, we will see some in the coming issues of eFiction Magazine.

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