I've read Mark LaFlamme's work before, so I thought I knew what I was in for with his BOX OF LIES. Shivers at the back of my neck, furtive glances over my shoulder, a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach... delicious! But I didn't bargain on the cumulative effect of more than two dozen stories, each with its own chilling atmosphere. LaFlamme is like a graffiti artist sliding around a corner in the dark with his collar turned up, a few bold strokes and he's moved on--but the territory of your mind has been tagged with his distinctive images.
If you're about to say that short stories aren't your thing, put that opinion on hold for a day or two and peek under the cover here. See if you really can resist. Each story opens with a line that yanks you in: "Trevor Garbo liked dead things." "My name is Rudy Weather and I can read your mind." "It was two days after the world ended when the old van rumbled up Route 4." "'Do you ever worry,' Randall Albee asked him, 'That they might come for you?'"
I wouldn't know where to start, telling you about these stories. Read a few here, a few there, put the book down and think about them for a while, go back and read a few more. One thing you know for sure is that, whether you're reading about a band of murdering fourth-graders, a shopkeeper defending his territory after the apocalyse, or a man who made a very poor bargain for eternal life, the characters are so real you can reach out and touch them, if you only dare.
Many of these stories spoke to me of some truth I don't quite dare to believe. For example, if you were moving into a new house as I am this week, what would you think of a story like "Our House," about a home that nurtures one of its new tenants while abusing the other? And do you hope that we'll adopt a gentle new paradigm when the oil is gone but fear that, instead, as it does in "The Neighborhood," it will come out of our hides? And perhaps creepiest of all, do you ever think about what could happen--or not happen--because you stopped to pick up a penny (or, perhaps, didn't)?
If you've let your imagination get a little rusty, prepare to be challenged by Box of Lies. Stylish writing, great characters and some wildly skewed concepts; it's a whole lot of entertainment with the mind-bending thrown in for free.
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About the reviewer
Linda Bulger (Linda_in_Maine)
When I love a book, I want to wave it in somebody's face and say "Look! Read this!" The internet was made for people like me, don't you think? The lunch.com crowd seems friendly enough... … more
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