A collection of 11 short stories, each one dark, crisp and satisfying.
The stories begin with “The Conviction,” where a good-old-boy Atlanta cop “knows” a killer’s identity without having to leave the police station—he’s dead sure it’s a colored man who’s never up to any good. The collection ends with “What She Offered,” in which a one-night stand with a woman dressed in black results in a noir twist. Throughout, the stories are engaging despite their generally bleak outlook. In “The Odds,” a dying man has been plagued for most of his life by his obsession with odds. What are the odds that he’ll be hit by a bus if he leaves his apartment? Or burn down his apartment building if he lights a match for the gas stove? A boxer throws a fight in “The Fix” and earns the sobriquet “Shameful Shamrock,” but was it truly a fix? In the title story, a man falls in love with a beautiful girl and marries her. But he detests the son she bears because the boy isn’t his. The child seems to mock the man right up to the startling end. (Anyone hoping to read about the ideal father might well look elsewhere.) “Rain” offers the staccato patter of cop dialogue and a sense of futility in the big and heartless city. “What Eddie Saw” imagines a boy whose father was a murderer. All of the stories are filled with misunderstandings, misdirections and misplaced resentments. Cook is a master yarn spinner brimming with imagination.
Probably won’t make you smile, but it will certainly grab and hold your attention.