Month: December 2021

Review of ‘Valley of the Dogs’

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For a writer, getting inside the reader’s mind is the holy grail of the craft. In Valley of the Dogs, a collection of eleven dark short stories, author Jim Musgrave has invaded most of our minds and left an impression that will linger long after we close the book and stick it on our ‘to be read again someday’ shelf.

     These stories satirize the traditional Hollywood endings and poke a little fun at the much-vaunted ‘star power’ that Hollywood loves to flaunt. As topical as the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptions and as classic as the equally traumatic effect the Vietnam War had on our society, Musgrave digs deep into the darkest recesses of the human psyche, exposing our true fears. At the same time, he entertains, and that’s the hallmark of really effective short fiction.

     If you’re looking for a good book to curl up with when the wind’s blowing outside and the sky is gunmetal gray and depressing, this is what I would prescribe.

     I received a complimentary copy of this book for review. I’m not easy to impress, but the author managed to beat the odds. Yes, I was impressed. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘The Mad Days of March’

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Terry March is something of a non-entity. Married to a woman who can’t cook and who also sleeps around, his sex life consists of . . . well, nothing, and their relationship consists of her lambasting him at every opportunity, when she’s not out having fun.

     Life begins to change when Terry helps an old man dump a blood-stained carpet into the recycling bin, then he meets a women at the pub who can’t get her electric lights to work and when he shows her how easy it is, she offers to ‘reward’ him but he turns her down.

     If this sounds like a crazy story, that’s because it is. Philip Catshill’s The Mad Days of March is a murder mystery, madcap romp, and a mind-boggling tale of one man’s miserable, messed-up life during a maniacal month of March. Told almost tongue in cheek, this story will grab you by the curiosity and squeeze until you moan, and then make you explode with mad mirth.  Catshill knows how to give the reader a roller coaster ride on anticipation and keep that reader interested until the ride comes to a gliding stop.

     A fun read that should not be missed. I was provided with a complimentary copy for review. I give it five stars.