“A Baker’s Dozen: 13 Tales of Murder and More” is a compilation of short stories created over 30 years, written by a former journalist and including contributions by her mother, a professional proofreader.
From murder in the mountains of Tennessee to the adventures of an all-woman air conditioning repair crew in Northern Virginia, a trip down the runway of a senior citizen beauty pageant, and the secrets revealed in the aftermath of a violent tornado, this page-turner is a blend of psychological suspense, surprise endings, satire, tearjerkers, and laugh-out-loud fun.
Stories include: “Dog’s Best Friend,” where a farmer’s wife is forced to make the ultimate decision between life and death; “Mrs. Gallagher,” the tale of an active 85-year-old who is not exactly what she appears to be; “The Sampler,” the co-author’s award-winning short story about a happy retired couple with a really big secret; and “What Do I Know?,” a first-person account by a very intelligent house cat who witnesses a brutal murder and lives to tell the tale.
“Now dad, you don’t have anything to worry about,” said Fanny. “All my friends will be there to keep me safe. Besides, if I don’t get involved in a mystery, however will I get to use my favorite word, ‘intrigued’?”
At times I will rethink my rating criteria and ask myself a specific question;” am I really asking for too much when it comes to aspiring writers and independent publishers?”Upon contemplation of these thoughts, will simultaneously read a book like A Baker’s Dozen and realize “man was it really that hard to come up with a captivating book.” This up and down and sporadic temperament makes me appreciate the literary world more and more each day. Right when you start feeling down about the quality of books you are reading or doubting the way you assess, you hit a stretch that makes you realize why you read the lesser known’s. With A Baker’s Dozen there really is no reason to believe that this book will be anything special or subsist in my extended memory. However; with the eclectic mash up of these stories I was left impressed with the breadth of narrative and utter creativity undertaken in A Baker’s Dozen.
Here are some of the thoughts I had while reading this collection, if you don’t get it, don’t worry it’s not you it’s me. This book is filled with subtle gems of suburban mystery: typewriters are not left only for the modern lives and paranoid minds of Russians, a memorable scene from French film Le père Noel est une order (let’s just say corpse defilement not in a necrophilia way but a get rid of evidence sort of way), all-to-real reality tv, precocious yet fallible teenage sleuths, animalistic redemption, the guile of the elderly, farmhouse is for the dog’s, no-cane no-able, sociopath; a psychologist’s nightmare, lower-level employees are not always on the level, who needs the Kwik-E-Mart?, and truth be told I myself have always been skeptical of chicken.
“Now, remember, Molly,” Pegz said sternly. “Don’t go out of the yard. And you can’t die for a long, long time, because funerals are a whole lot of trouble and they aren’t really much fun.” There was a moment’s hesitation. “But they are very moving.”
My favourites within this anthology were Exit 36, The Mystery of the Missing Tab, Burying Toby, Mrs.Gallagher, What Do I Know?, and The Sampler. If you notice the majority of these stories were at the start of the book. Typically this would influence my rating of this book in a negative way, but these stories were very well done that I couldn’t bring myself to hold it against the overall perception of the book. My least favourites were The Great Milk Quest, and Contestants Must Walk. These stories do showcase the writers versatility, but for me they were…
Overall, I found A Baker’s Dozen by The Cawood Jones sisters to be surprisingly well-orchestrated and abound in its variety. I was expecting some sort of more mature tales of mystery aimed more towards the elderly that would leave a lot to be desired for the more younger attention-deficient mind. Boy was I wrong. These stories had a very light-hearted and cozy feeling to them. For being a short story collection it kept your attention from beginning to end with each story going in different direction it was difficult to determine where are final destination would be, knowing the only surety would be an absolute gripping read.
I would recommend this hot batch of salty yet unsavoury stories to anyone interested in mysteries with some violence, some coarse language but long on fun, humour, and INTRIGUE.