Many Deadly Returns: 21 Stories Celebrating 21 Years of Murder Squad

Today I’m bringing you my thoughts on a brilliant short story collection from the Murder Squad Team. I do love a good crime story and this book is filled with some of the best. The brilliant thing is that its the perfect book to fit into your lunch breaks too. My thanks to the publisher Severn House for the advance copy via Netgalley. Here’s more about the book:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 01 October 2021
Publisher: Severn House

About the Book

Murder Squad, a group of award-winning crime and mystery writers, celebrate their twenty-first birthday with a bang in this criminally good collection of short stories.

A dawn swim turns deadly in a brand-new short story starring DCI Vera Stanhope . . . Two bored cell-mates play a game with chilling results . . . A hen night in an isolated cottage brings new meaning to ‘I will survive’ . . . A train traveller teaches a valuable lesson in reading labels . . . A day at the seaside turns stormy for a woman who doesn’t care for foreigners . . . A wealthy retiree makes a new friend who connects her to the Other Side . . . and much much more.

Short, sharp and packed with twists, these 21 unputdownable tales showcase Murder Squad’s range and talent throughout the years. So why not treat yourself to a slice of murderously moreish fiction, and join us in wishing the squad ‘Many Deadly Returns’.

With stories by Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Margaret Murphy, Chris Simms and Cath Staincliffe, as well as John Baker, Chaz Brenchley and Stuart Pawson.

My Thoughts

I do like a good bit of crime fiction and with the wonderful team at the Murder Squad, we are gifted more than a good bit. 21 stories which run a whole gamut of crimes and emotions and which are pretty well guaranteed to give you at least one tale to make you ponder, or maybe even chuckle.

As with any short story collection, I found myself immersed in a myriad of mini adventures, some of which I have to admit I have read before (one of the perils of reading almost exclusively crime fiction I suppose) but the majority of which are new to me. Short story collections are perfect for me as it’s a quick lunchtime fix of fiction, or a way to act as a bit of a pallet cleanser between full length crime novels, when you don’t want to go cold turkey but haven’t the time or start a big tome. The real bonus of this book is that it also introduced me to some authors who I was aware of but had never actually read before. I like that about these books. It’s like a literary taster session, only with less calories.

This book has everything to offer, as you’d expect from the very experienced and talented team behind it. A variety of characters, settings and various deadly encounters and motives to keep you fully entertained. Some of the names may seem very familiar – there is a wonderful Vera short story from Ann Cleeves for example, but that’s not the sole draw of this book. Some of the standout stories for me included Kate Ellis’s My Oleander, a brilliant locked room mystery with a smile inducing twist in the tale, and Chaz Benchley’s For Kicks, a story which is a fabulous commentary on modern life and definitely provoking. Then there is Chris Simms, The Passenger. Definitely one to make the blood boil, at least if you have any kind of conscience. All perfectly pitched and fast paced stories, self contained but making me curious to read more from the respective authors.

If you like crime fiction then this really is a great collection and one I’d heartily recommend.

About the Authors

Murder Squad was the idea of Margaret Murphy, who went on to chair the Crime Writers Association. Margaret was getting good reviews, but sales were disappointing and in publishing the marketing budget tends to follow success. She realised it was vital to promote her own work and thought that it would be much easier to do that collectively than as an individual. So she invited six other crime writers living and writing in the north of England to join forces.

Two of the original line-up, John Baker and Chaz Brenchley, have since stepped down from the Squad, and Stuart Pawson retired due to ill-health. Stuart died in February 2016 and is sorely missed, though his Charlie Priest books live on. John and Chaz have put forward a story each, and one of Stuart’s stories will also appear in the new anthology.

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