Until about a year ago I had never heard of J. A. Konrath, but then I found out that he had written a short mash-up with one of my favourite authors F. Paul Wilson.
Before I review 65 Proof a little interesting back story about Mr Konrath. He always wanted to be a writer, and never stopped writing. He would submit short stories to every single place imaginable, more often than not receiving rejection. But he persevered, and his writing improved, he honed his craft, and eventually the rejections became acceptances. He then managed to publish the first of his Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels thriller series, which now number in the double figures. Mr Konrath is living proof of never giving up.
Anyway, 65 Proof is a collection of 65 short stories, most of which have already been published in various magazines or anthologies. The collection is split into four distinct sections; Jacqueline Daniels and friends, Crime, Horror and lastly Humour.
I’ve never read any of his Lt. Daniels books, and I’m not a particular fan of generic ‘Crime’, so it took me a while to read the first half of the collection. However there were a couple of real gems hidden among the horror shorts. One with a werewolf who meets a weresquirrel and a weretortoise, who are being hunted by a red suited nemesis known as Satan’s Claws. Thoroughly entertaining, as was the story of two serial killers. One who kills hitchhikers and the other who is a hitchhiker and kills the people who offer her lifts. Who will gain the upper hand when they meet?
What I like about short story collections is that I can read one at night and then put it away to read something a bit meatier. As a few of the stories didn’t really work for me I gave the collection 4 out of 5 on Goodreads, which was probably a little generous, but as I said, there were a few absolute gems.