Few crime writers these days have the time (or publishers’ will) to produce sufficient short fiction to make an entire volume available to readers in book form; even for the once-prolific Ruth Rendell, it has been over ten years since her last collection was published.
Proving that crime is alive and well in the short story format, Robert Barnard’s latest compelling collection, Rogue’s Gallery comprises 14 short stories written mostly over the last decade. Short stories can be very hit or miss, but these are diamonds amongst the rough. Whilst perhaps not seeking to address big issues, they provide highly entertaining asides and come with some of the very dark twists familiar to readers of Barnard’s fiction. In “Family Values”, a mother and son display a loving public relationship that fuels the suspicion of those around them, the story coming with an unexpected take on affairs; and “A Political Necessity” has the reader rooting for the wronged – but do we really know who that is…?
It is good to see the current resurgence (and success) of short crime fiction in e-book format, giving new readers the opportunity to discover some old treats. It is also a pleasure to see this, Barnard’s third collection, released, in both traditional and e-book form. Short fiction is a format which Barnard embraces as ably as he does his full-length novels, and this collection is perfect for either curling up with on a cold Sunday afternoon and reading from beginning to end, or equally ideal for those shorter moments when time is of the essence.