Title: Allan Gilbreath: A Short Story Collection
Author: Allan Gilbreath
Format: Paperback edition by Kerlak Publishing
Many authors write short stories, myself included. Some of us do it because they sell well and others do it because they simply prefer the short, terse form of fiction over the longer, more involved process of writing a novel. Whatever the reason, short stories are something at some point that most, if not all, authors have or will write. And very few do it with such skill as Allan Gilbreath.
Known possibly more for Galen and Dark Chances, his two novels giving us his take on vampire fiction, Gilbreath shows an ability and a range of skill in this short story collection that should establish him as a leading writer of the form. In nineteen stories, Gilbreath moves effortlessly between genres, taking readers to planets far from home and then showing them how horrors can literally invade the four walls and ceilings of our houses. He slides into historical noir like he’s putting on house slippers and then just as comfortably crafts a tale of the old being made new again, in terms of species. As displayed in this volume, there seems to be no genre that Gilbreath isn’t comfortable creating within.
The best stories in this collection, in my reviewing opinion, are The Little Demon Doubt, Afternoon Lemonade, Just Beneath the Surface, Time To Come Out and Play, Twilight’s Last Gleaming, The Glamour of It All, Origins, Mr. Crump Don’t Like it, The Smile, An Odd Demise, Lepus Europeaus, Torah of the Gem, and The Abere.
The last three stories in the book all feature Jack Lago. Lago is a grumpy sort of rumpled detective, an ex-cop who gained a reputation for handling the weird and strange cases that most officers would rather ignore or not deal with. Now in his pseudo retirement, Lago finds himself called into consult whenever a case tends to cross the line into the supernatural or the paranormal or the ‘No damn way to explain’ category.
Gilbreath is at the top of his game in these three stories. Lago is not only engaging and curmudgeonly, but he is great fun to read. Gilbreath navigates the first person narration like a pro should and pulls the reader into the mystery right alongside Lago. Something else he does well is filling the world around Lago with a believable supporting cast, many of them unsure if they even want to associate with Lago and what comes with knowing him. Each mystery is tightly conceived and executed and, although this is a phrase I hate to use, these three definitely will leave readers wanting more.
Allan Gilbreath: A Short Story Collection by Allan Gilbreath rates four out of five pages. Not every story is a hit, nor will it be that way with any reader. But overall, this collection is the work of an author who not only knows how to craft a short story, but even seems to enjoy doing so, based on the after comments he added to each story.
I’d load five out of six bullets for this collection. Again, personal preference keeps it from being a full chamber, but this on the whole is a fantastic representation of a talented writer’s work.