Author – Murder Squad and accomplices
Published – Sept 2015
Genre – Crime fiction
The Starlings & Other Stories is a compilation of crime and mystery short stories inspired by 12 photographs taken by David Wilson of rural Pembrokeshire. David takes atmospheric and evocative black and white pictures of the Welsh landscape and these have inspired a series of equally dark and tense short stories. The authors are a collective of six crime writers from the North of England (the Murder Squad) and six ‘accomplices’, and it is edited by one of the authors, Anne Cleeves, who has also written a short ‘Vera’ story as her own contribution. The authors all chose a different one of David’s photos to inspire their stories – and the use of the images provides a theme which links the stories, rooting them in the Welsh setting.
The stories themselves take a mix of approaches, from the contemporary to the historical, from conventional crime to stories with a more supernatural slant. For me the standout story was actually the first one in the book, ‘Homecoming’ by Cath Staincliffe. As I’ve discovered with other fiction I’ve read of Cath’s she does a brilliant job of developing the emotional aspect of a mystery and that’s not an easy feat in the context of a short story.
The collection is accompanied by the glossy photos that were the inspiration and this makes for an unusually beautiful crime fiction book. As well as being excellent photographs, using the set of images as a theme for the anthology gives a similarity between the stories that makes this a cohesive collection making this a worthwhile buy for any crime fiction lover.
Many thanks to Graffeg for the review copy.