A Year of Orenda – The CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour

When is an Orenda Books not an Orenda Book? When it’s published in conjunction with the Crime Writer’s Association. Well, sort of. I first read the CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour back around its publication in 2017, not because it was an Orenda book but because it sounded like a great anthology featuring some really fabulous writers. How could I resist? And how could I resist revisiting it for our Year Of Orenda? I couldn’t, so I didn’t and Mandie joined in too. Here’s the book stuff.

Source: Amazon

About the Book

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood.

Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of contemporary crime-fiction genre, these 28 chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget. Contributions from: Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick.

My Thoughts

Short story collections are not everyone’s cup of tea – I completely get that. For me though they are a brilliant way of getting a taster of each author’s writing style – of potentially discovering new authors, and are, lets face it, a good quick-fix distraction in these trying times. Yes – this is the second time of reading this book and it was fun rediscovering the stories, remembering the emotions, laugher, shock and tension that each of the different author’s has to offer. From childhood memories, to business rivalries and unexpected propositions, there is a little of everything for everyone in this book. I took a look back at my original review, and to be honest my views haven’t really changed. It IS the perfect collection to dip in and out of, and this time around I read it over a matter o days once again, a few stories a day in lunch hours and before work even. You are effectively gifted 28 stories from some of the best writers of crime fiction out there. What’s not to like really?

It’s very hard to review a short story collection without perhaps giving too much away about the stories inside it. Each one of them is very, very different and offers a unique styling to readers. There are many authors in this collection that I recognised and am already a big fan of so the chance to virtually inhale more of their writing was too good to miss. As with all collections of this kind, there were also authors that had been new to me and I enjoyed having the reminder of what they had to offer. From mystery at a writers convention, to a creeping almost supernatural narrative, right through to the ultimate in husband and wife spats and revenge, the stories cover a range of emotions and settings.

The stories vary in length from those which are just a few pages to those which perhaps surpass twenty plus pages in total. There are certainly a few which I feel could happily develop into a much longer story, William Ryan’s The Spoils springs immediately to mind. And Ragnar Jonasson’s A Postcard from Iceland left a rather large unanswered question, keeping the mind whirring long after the last paragraph ended … But then you are spoilt for choice. For Inspector Chopra fans there is a fab short story in here featuring our favourite Detective and his unorthodox sidekick. Maybe you fancy a taste of Ann Cleeves writing, or to see what deviousness SJI Holliday has booked up this time around. I really enjoyed Anna Mazzola’s haunting tale, Return to the Lake and think it would work well as a full length story exploring what really happened that summer long ago. And remind me never to upset CL Taylor, although I’m confident I’d not be guilty of anything as heinous as the bad guys in her short but oh so sweet story. It’s funny how the same stories have stayed with me this time of reading and yet I still discovered something a little different in each of them.

An absolutely cracking anthology which provides a wonderful introduction to the short story, with a mix of crimes to make you smile, cringe, gasp and nod. Nod at the sheer brilliance on offer. These guys fit more into a few short paragraphs than should be humanly possible – a sign of just how good they, and this collection, are. Brilliant.

Mandie’s Thoughts

If like me you sometimes struggle to read quickly enough to take in at least one book by all the fantastic crime writers out there then anthologies are a good way to at least get a flavour of their writing style so it can help you pick at least one or two. They are also a good way to find authors that you may not have heard of before. 

The CWA Anthology is a mix of authors I have come across and read/not read and some that I have not heard of before, and these short stories really kept me going back for more. What’s great is that this is the sort of book you really can pick up as and when, dipping in and out as the mood takes you. With so many stories to chose from its impossible to pick a favourite although I will say that “Three on A Trail” by Michael Stanley certainly did give me the chills, and having previously read a different Inspector Chopra story by Vaseem Khan, I thoroughly enjoyed “Bombay Brigadoon” and getting reacquainted with Ganesh the baby elephant.

If you have been struggling to read in recent times then if you have not yet read it maybe the CWA Anthology will be just the sort of thing that might help get that mojo back.

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