Poetic Justice by Mark Tilbury

Today I’m delighted to join the blog tour for Poetic Justice by Mark Tilbury, a collection of crime short stories inspired by some poems written by the author. I’m a fan of the author’s often dark and always twisted writing, so was very intrigued to see what he had made of this collection. My thanks to the author for the gifted copy of the book for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 18 November 2021
Publisher: Tilbury Publishing

About the Book

Five twisted tales of murder and revenge.

Time doesn’t heal; it just incubates old wounds.

Lucy’s return – No one remembers Lucy at the school reunion, but she remembers them. Especially one boy who made her life hell, and now she’s going to do the same to him.

The Tallyman – Donna is in debt, and the loan shark is making her life unbearable, with increasingly vile demands when she can’t make her payments. But her elderly neighbour, Elsie, has the perfect solution to get rid of the tallyman once and for all.

Last Orders – Jeff Tully’s wife has left him. Trying to run his pub single-handedly, he increasingly turns to his barmaid, Alyson, for help. But when Alyson tells him of her own troubles, they hatch a plan to get rid of Alyson’s violent, abusive husband. But will Jeff live to regret he ever got involved with his barmaid?

Ballad of the Unsung Hero – Retired shopkeeper Jennifer Price is at her wits end. Her husband Kenneth thinks more of his fishing than he does of her. But when she meets the man of her dreams at a spiritual church, Jennifer is hell-bent on getting her man – whatever it takes.

Private Museum – Mandy Rostron never thought she’d find love again at seventy-two, but in Anton Smyth she’s found the perfect gentleman. Or so she thinks. Anton has some very dark secrets in his basement, or his Private Museum as he calls it, and Mandy is about to discover the truth about the man of her dreams.

My Thoughts

Poetic Justice is fabulous collection of short stories, tales of revenge, failed domesticity and the brutal truth of living below the poverty line. Each one offers readers something a little different, and although perhaps not as dark as some of the author’s normal offerings, each tale comes with a little sting in its tail. A small element of surprise. Something that you really won’t be expecting.

Each of the stories is preceded by the poem that inspired their content. These on their own stand as a testament to the authors ability to create deep feeling and emotion from a few short sentences. Poetry is not necessarily an easy style to master but Mark Tilbury has done a superb job, and each poem really set the tone of the book up perfectly. They would work well in their own right, but certainly do add a touch of meaning to the tales that follow in their wake.

I really enjoyed the variety of stories that have been offered in this collection. Most of the tales are centred around the home, three of them, Last Orders, Ballad of the Unsung Hero and Private Museum, looking at three very different, very complicated marital relationships. The fourth story, The Tallyman takes readers on a journey with young Mum, Donna, a woman who has fallen on hard times and is struggling to make ends meet, causing her to make a very unsafe and unwise decision. The final story, Lucy’s Return, is a situation that many people may relate to in some way, although I would hope that no matter how much you loved or hated school, none of us would approach the impending reunion with quite such dark intent.

I do really enjoy the way in which the author draws you into each individual story. They all vary in length and in pacing, but. Mark Tilbury is quick to establish character and circumstance, and manages to elicit a range of emotions in a short space of time, from empathy to rage to just plan disbelief at the blind stupidity of some of the characters. Mandy Rostrum especially in Private Museum is the kind of person you would probably have to question why she cannot see the blindingly obvious when her best friend and us as readers can, but then this is so reflective of real life where the abused cannot always see the wood for the trees.

It is this kind of echo of reality that permeates many of the stories. Similarly, Donna’s story is quite a common tale, especially now, and could equally have been ripped from the headlines. Don’t worry though – whilst there is a cautionary tale in each, and even in some a kind of social commentary, this is true Mark Tilbury fare and each story comes with a twist. A twist that left me with a smile on my face. Even if these tales are on the gentler side of Mr Tilbury’s fiction, they don’t call him Twisted Tilbury for nothing – it’s as much about his dance with the unexpected as it is his dark prose.

If you like Mark Tilbury’s work and you enjoy a good short story then I’d urge you to give these are try. It’s a perfect collection to dip into over your lunch.

About the Author

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing and after being widowed and raising his two daughters, Mark finally took the plunge and began self-publishing. Mark’s writing has earned him the name #TwistedTilbury due to the dark and twisted nature of his books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.

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