What’s this? Another Wednesday and I’m reviewing something that isn’t my current read? Yep, yet again, I’ve had to resort to reading a short story in order to stick to my upload policy. There’s something about Shakespeare: The World As Stage by Bill Bryson that is making it difficult for me to finish. Although, I am in the midst of birthday week so I’ve had other things on my mind. So, what was I to do? Check Kindle Unlimited for an interesting sounding short story that I could finish in less than an hour today, obviously. There really was no thought beyond that. It was basically the first short story I came across that sounded interesting. I’d never heard of the author before or the short story collection that it came from. But I guess that’ the joy of having to read something for a review. You pick up things that you’d never have considered before. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.
He Did It by JT Lawrence is a short story taken from her collection Sticky Fingers 2 and describes itself as something for fans of Roald Dahl and Gillian Flynn. I’m not entirely sure that I’d have linked Roald Dahl and Gillian Flynn myself. For one thing, I’ve enjoyed so many things that Dahl has written and hated Gone Girl so much that I vowed never to read anything by Flynn again. Although, I guess, clutching at straws, both writers can be linked to dark and macabre tales. And maybe the rest of the short stories would make the connections clearer? If I’m being super cynical, and I almost always am, it feels like a way to just jump on the back of two popular writers. Like writing a novel and claiming it would appeal to fans of Charles Dickens simply because both writers wrote books.
But, this isn’t one of my rants so I’d better change my approach before it’s too late. He Did It is a short story set in Johannesburg, that starts with a detective discovering a murder. The body of a man has been left in his car and there is a suspicious lack of clues. Whilst investigating the murder he uncovers clues that link this to a much bigger operation. We never learn much about the detective but it becomes clear that he is, for some unknown reasons, hallucinating. Hallucinating the figure of a man to be exact. This figure follows him as he looks into the murder and offers his own insight.
The basic murder mystery of the short story is fine if nothing very new or original. It’s the kind of run of the mill crime story that doesn’t really excite but is entertaining enough. But it feels as if there are too many weird aspects of this story that only seem present to make it seem weirder. The imaginary figure would have been an interesting concept if only it had been explored further. I know it’s a short story format but it all feels quite superficial. Nothing really adds to the story, which makes me think it’s desperate attempt to stand-out. A simple way to be able to describe her stories as strange. But, really, serving very little literary worth.
It’s only a few pages long, however, so He Did It is perfectly readable. I just don’t think the short story format is particularly good for this type of narrative. Everything is rushed so you don’t get a sense of the investigation. And the big reveal at the end is so quick and essentially meaningless. This story might push me to read more work by Lawrence but it doesn’t fill me with much confidence. This story feels like a pastiche rather than an original story. Like it’s trying to break a mould that it is never fit into anyway. It was an odd and speedy reading experience that won’t really stay with me afterwards.