Since May is Short Story Month, I have read a few titles that fit into the short story category. My first selection is “The Text” by Claire Douglas. A contemporary crime thriller written with skill, it has all the trademarks of a full size thriller packed into only forty pages. Quite a feat!
Our protagonist is 26 year-old Emily Latimer who works as a junior accountant in an office. Disappointed that her boss, Andrew Burton, will not let her have the weekend off to travel to Edinburgh with her girlfriends, she writes a quick text to her live-in boyfriend, Stuart, in which she vents her frustration. Andrew (whom she has nicknamed ‘Android’, is not a very nice man. He bullies and humiliates his staff). The text, written quickly, contains a typo AND was sent to her work group instead of her boyfriend, as was her intention.
Emily’s relationship with her boyfriend, a doctor named Stuart, is volatile. He has a nasty temper and is jealous and controlling. Emily chooses to stay with him as she loves him and the comfortable little house they live in. Also, she feels too cowardly to reenter the dating scene.
When Andrew Burton is found murdered, Emily’s life takes a bizarre turn. She comes home to find this note:
It is obvious that one of her co-workers must have written the note. Could someone she knows have killed Andrew Burton on her behalf???
Just forty pages and this little story satisfied in every way. The characters were realistic and the plot well rendered. It is at once a ‘whodunit’, and a contemporary novel of relationships.
I very much enjoyed this brief fiction, and it has confirmed for me that Claire Douglas can write both short stories and longer novels with equal skill. You can read my review of her novel “Local girl missing“ which I read and reviewed last summer.
Claire Douglas has worked as a journalist for fifteen years writing features for women’s magazines and national newspapers, but she’s dreamed of being a novelist since the age of seven. She finally got her wish after winning the Marie Claire Debut Novel Award, with her first novel, THE SISTERS. Born in Bristol, she now lives in Bath with her husband and two children.