on 6 May 2004
I am a big fan of the Irene Kelly series and have always enjoyed reading the work of Jan Burke. She has a very special ability in getting the reader immersed in her stories, this being one of the reasons why she has won so many writing awards. In this collection of stories she displays her ability with confidence, taking the reader through a myriad of experiences.
I evaluated each story individually, and all of them received a rating between four and five stars, with the average being 4.5. Eight of the stories received five stars from me:
1) The Mouse: Looks at how things are for kids in school, how peer pressure may prevent someone from being proud of her actions, and how this changes in adulthood.
2) Revised Endings: Harriet feels miserable when she is assigned a new editor, who is obnoxious and demands changes in the ending of her latest novel.
3) Ghost of a Chance: A ghost visits a woman shortly after the death of her husband, who was murdered on a shooting by.
4) Unharmed: In this story, winner of the Readers Award from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and the Macavity Award, Alex recounts the death of a woman calibrating his involvement in it.
5) Mea Culpa: A boy tries to deal with the death of his father in a car accident and with a confession he listens his stepfather make acknowledging he wants to abandon the kid's mother.
6) An Unsuspected Condition of the Heart: Rossiter writes a letter in which he relates the vicissitudes he went through when he found Lord Dallingham on the road with his phaeton overturned.
7) The Abbey Ghost: In this Edgar Award Nominee story, Edward and Lucien scare their bad side of the family away using the legend of a ghost protecting a treasure in the abbey over which their castle was built. Years later when one of them dies, he becomes a "real ghost" in order to help the other one in dealing with a murderer.
8) Devotion: Frank Harriman, Irene Kelly's husband, along with some of the characters from "Bones" takes part in this story where a young boy goes missing after his father is murdered.
Besides the eight stories listed above, the collection includes the first Irene Kelly short story, "A fine set of teeth" and an Agatha Award nominee, "The man in the civil suit". Jan Burke displays an amazing variety in the stories, dealing with different time periods, types of characters, plots and viewpoints. This is a collection of stories you cannot miss! - 4.5 stars