Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Shot to Death by Stephen D. Rogers

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Shot to Death by Stephen D. Rogers. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Shot to Death by Stephen D. Rogers

Short Story Collection

Mainly Murder Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9825899-0-5 (0982589905)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9825899-0-8 (9780982589908)
Publication Date: February 2010
List Price: $14.95

Review: Author Stephen D. Rogers gathers 31 of his stories of murder and mayhem into one collection titled Shot To Death: 31 Stories of Nefarious New England.

Ordered alphabetically by story title (as good a way as any), these stories are told from the perspective of both good guys and bad guys, sometimes in third person but mostly in first person, and yet they all have a similar "voice". It's an easy-going style that subtly draws the reader in to the story's premise, then suddenly springs an unexpected twist. Though it may seem to get repetitive, and to be sure, not all the stories have one, it really isn't. The author always plays fair, with the twist often foreshadowed but frequently in an unforeseen manner.

** SPOILER ALERT (for just one story) **

For example, in "C.O.D." (a really clever title, incidentally), a man is tormented by a couple of kids who repeatedly knock over his mailbox with their truck. The sheriff doesn't care, boys will be boys he says, and brush it off. That the boys are the sons of the sheriff is an incidental fact. The man goes home to repair his mailbox yet again, as described in this rather innocuous paragraph:

I spent this afternoon digging a deep hole, building a temporary support for the steel shaft, pouring in quick-dry cement. Four hours later, I slid the plastic mailbox post over the shaft, disassembled the support, and replaced the sod.

When the boys hit the mailbox later that night, "[their] pickup was wrapped around the steel shaft, the engine dead but ticking from the heat." The driver is killed, his passenger severely wounded. The story ends as flashing lights approach the man's house.

"C.O.D." is typical of the stories in this entertaining collection, written by an author who clearly knows his craft and, more importantly, his audience. Two minor quibbles: some of the longer stories (those over 10 pages) are really too long and could have been shortened; and though subtitled as stories set in New England, there's very little of this region in most of the tales, which often have no geographic reference at all.

Special thanks to Stephen D. Rogers for providing a copy of Shot to Death for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Thirty-one thought-provoking mystery stories by acclaimed author Stephen D. Rogers, all set in the cities and small towns of his native New England.

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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