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Jacobs’ (Chow Time!, 2017, etc.) collection of five short stories finds some characters pursued by pirates or incensed relatives while others make time for romance.

In “Hi-Jinks on the High Seas,” a yacht cruise around the world offers grand opportunities for a photojournalist. But things take an unexpected turn when he has to fight off pirates trying to force their way aboard the ship. However, it’s not the only story of a personal journey that takes a surprising detour in this collection. Caleb Watters in “A Boy Too Many,” for example, leaves home to look for work when his farming family decides that they’d be more financially stable with one fewer mouth to feed. He gets a job as a store clerk and eventually lends a helping hand to a man named John Palmer and his sister, Emma. He then winds up falling in love with the latter, which incites the wrath of her lawbreaking kin. In a similar vein, the title of “Spies R Us” teases potential action, but after Alph Furlong and Fred Worthington, two card-carrying, self-described “Professional Spize,” rescue a woman from the clutches of a gang, the plot goes in a different direction. It turns out that the woman is a producer who wants to buy the rights to their story—and the men go on to play themselves in a TV series. Jacobs delivers more humor in “The Case of the Granite Stone or Trouble in the Gardens of Eternal Peace,” a tale of melodrama at a funeral caused by the deceased’s former affairs with numerous women. The author even makes room for a love story in “A Different Kind of Recess”; in it, Carl Anderson is upset that his pal Don can’t join his fishing trip, but he forgets all about him when he gets closer to Jennifer, the cook he brings along. Overall, Jacobs excels at molding his characters—including the villainous or even seemingly insignificant ones, such as a stowaway in the aforementioned “Hi-Jinks.” But despite all the humor, surprises, and effective characterization, readers may find it hard to ignore the abundance of misspellings in the text, and they may also find the author’s choice to bury lines of dialogue within paragraphs to be distracting.

Uncomplicated, enjoyable, and often surprising tales hampered by distracting errors.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-68256-366-3
Page count: 236pp
Publisher: LitFire Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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