The Night of the Mange Tout (and other stories) by Sally Quilford

I’ve downloaded a lot of books by Sally Quilford, since I first came across her writing several years ago now. She mainly writes for magazines but also produces a large number of ebooks, inexpensively, in a variety of genres. Better still, she regularly offers selections of them free for the Kindle.

‘Night of the mange tout’ is an intriguing title for what is in fact a collection of short stories in the light crime genre. Some, as the author notes where relevant, were previously published in magazines or elsewhere, but not all of them. Three or four feature a specific young police officer called Dandy McLean; a handful are set in a particular place involving the same characters; some are one-off stories. Each is complete in itself.

There’s quite a mixture of style within these short stories. The one giving the unusual title to the collection is light and satirical, featuring a young man who would like to be a mafia hit man but finds himself growing organic vegetables... Others are more traditional, with a body at the beginning and a bit of a mystery. And one features an apparent runaway with a thoughtful message about being a parent.

These made ideal reading while I was on holiday. I keep my Kindle in my bag, and can pull it out at any odd moment, with five or ten minutes being sufficient to read any of these stories. There’s nothing particularly gory, and each story is different enough that there was no feel of them being ‘samey’.

In some cases it was not difficult to predict the ending; in others, including one particularly surreal story, I don’t think it would have been possible. But that’s okay; I’m not one to worry obsessively over details and clues, and I enjoyed each story for what it was.

Recommended if you like light crime stories. Only available in Kindle format.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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