Fourteen new short stories in which female authors present women who are disgruntled or worse.
How does S.J. Rozan perk up a bored housewife? By supplying her with handymen to murder in “The Next Good Day.” How to deal with a violently loony wife? Elizabeth Massie keeps moving her out of town in “The Next-Door Collector.” Sharing quarters with one’s mother-in-law gets a close look in Carole Nelson Douglas’s “Lawn and Order” and Suzanne Ledbetter’s “How to Murder Your Mother-in-Law,” while husbands fare badly in stories by Nevada Barr (“GDMFSOB”) and Marcia Muller (“He Said...She Said”). The other woman gets smacked around in Vicki Hendricks’s “Purrz, Baby” and Nancy Pickard’s “Joy Ride”; mothers avenge their daughters in Eileen Dreyer’s “Vanquishing the Infidel” and editor Matthews’s “The House of Deliverance”; and an honorary daughter tries to do in mom in Sara Paretsky’s “Acid Test.” The two most entertaining tales are Julie Smith’s paean to a female con artist who pulls off the same scam twice in “The One That Got Away,” and Barbara Collins’s satirical take on reality-TV celebrity, “Trailer Trashed.” The one that will haunt you, however, is Denise Mina’s “An Invisible Minus Sign,” about a housewife who can’t even commit suicide right.
A so-so collection, but the authors ratchet up their charm quotient in their pithy biographical assessments of their personal domesticity. Try their recipes at your own risk.