Back in September of 2010, prolific pulp horror author Guy N Smith handed out an exclusive ebook CD entitled ‘Mystery & Horror Shorts’ alongside the exclusive chapbook ‘Dwellers Of The Dark’ (2010) to all of those who attended that year’s annual fan convention.  

The ebook CDs were packaged within a clear sleeve with a single-page cover insert, along with a sticker on the reverse side of the sleeve which was hand signed by Smith. The CD cover included the subheading “Have a peek if your dare…”

The CD included a 7-page pdf document entitled “free convo story” which contained three of Smith’s short stories, all of which had previously been published within the ‘Mystery & Horror Shorts: 1st Collection’ (1999).

The Suitcase – 2.5 Pages
Lemuel Jenkinson had taken his trusty cocker spaniel, Spot, for a Sunday afternoon walk in the nearby woods when they stumbled across the suitcase. However, he never would have believed what he’d find inside. Roughly a quarter of a million, in crisp twenty-pound notes, all neatly tied with string in bundles and left there, dumped in the woods, just waiting to be found.

Even being the chief cashier at the local bank, Jenkinson wasn’t a well-paid man. This money would undoubtedly change his life. The question was, what to do with it? If he handed it in, he’d possibly only receive a meagre portion as a reward. But if he kept it…

Could he do that? Could he get away with gradually, slowly, spending the cash here and there. A new TV, a new car, maybe even purchasing a bungalow down by that beautiful wood which had provided him with such luxury. If he was careful, clever about things, maybe he could get away with it…

Everyone’s fantasised about finding something like this. A discarded suitcase full of cash! It’s the stuff of dreams. Although of course, you’re instantly confronted with the dilemma of what would you do? Hand it in, or keep the whole lot for yourself?

Here we see Smith toying with just this dilemma. It’s a short and straight-to-the-plot story, with very little padding other than fleshing out the character of Lemuel Jenkinson, who is clearly based upon the author himself.

A few little insider points about dirtying the money to make it looked used, so it doesn’t look so suspicious, a thrown in for added entertainment. Some great setting the scene and laying out this man’s quiet and somewhat meagre existence. And then of course, the inevitable spending of his windfall…and the even more inevitable comeuppance for this. Of course, we have a small twist in the story at the end. Nothing spectacular but overall, an enjoyable and entertaining short read.

The Last Supper – 2 Pages
Coleman had been a private detective for a number of years but never had he investigated a case like this one. A missing member of the Carruthers family. It was enough to have the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. The father had been executed for cannibalism. Murdering his own wife, before butchering her corpse, cooking the severed body parts and feeding the meat to his two young sons, Martyn and Timothy. Now a number of years later and Timothy Carruthers had gone missing.

The private detective had been instructed by Rosemary Carruthers, the other sibling of the family. And tonight, he would be entertained by the brother Martyn Carruthers. A decidedly odd and eccentric fellow. One who put Coleman ill at ease in his presence. But this was undoubtedly the best way to try to locate the missing brother. A direct approach, via a meal at the Carruthers’ crumbling old mansion. A meal that would be cooked by Martyn Carruthers himself…

A classic Guy N Smith murder mystery story encased in despicable horror. However, as elaborate as the backstory to this short is, to be honest, the actual plot is somewhat predictable. With all the details about this strange family offered up to the reader before the two men sit down for their meal together, followed by all the hints at the odd tasting meat cooked in a variety of herbs and spices, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what happened to poor old Timothy Carruthers. Even the small twist ending isn’t of a great surprise.

Nevertheless, what we have with this short story is another entertaining little jaunt into the mind of the Great Scribbler. Hints of the oddball family from ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (1974) springing to mind with the aging old servant, Joby, and his decidedly corpse-like appearance (ala the half-dead father figure in the aforementioned notorious cannibal flick). Quite simply an enjoyable and gruesome murder mystery story, although with little in the way of actual mystery!

Triple Death – 2 Pages
The three British men faced execution for their supposed crimes. Although the trial was a sham, a travesty of a non-existent justice from the outset. All three men knew it and now they faced their death at the hands of a firing squad. The three men, soon to be lined up against a wall in the blistering heat, facing their executioners. The dictator responsible for their impending death, no doubt wearing his full ceremonial dress, decorated by medals of his own design, and watching on with enjoyment.

Connelly had been charged with plotting to assassinate the president. A crime he hadn’t committed. Not that such a detail mattered one iota. Shaw, a missionary without a church. A man who had fallen so ill he could no longer stand. Again, his only crime being his act of bringing faith to this land. And Riley, a gunsmith who had co-operated with the regime, but still the dictator had decided he was involved in a plot to assassinate him. A farce. But one which will see the three killed. Executed for non-existent crimes in a savage triple death…

For this final short story, we have a dark and gloomy short tale with three men facing a firing squad for crimes they haven’t committed. The tone Smith utilises throughout the tale is one of utter despair and acceptance of an impending death. It’s a bleak short story, which Smith has penned to absolute perfection.

There’s of course a twist at the end. Isn’t there always? Again, it’s a tad predictable, however the delivery of it on the very last sentence of the tale does keep you perched on the edge of your seat to find out quite how Smith will achieve it.

For the most part, the story is one of fleshing out the three men’s backstories. Showing their obvious innocence and the totally unjustified execution. However, it’s with the way in which Smith tells the story where its real merits lie. The constant oppression that is felt throughout. The dire setting of the inhumane cell the three are locked within, as their trial goes on in their absence. And the preparation of the impending execution.

A great short, written so very well, and executed to perfection.

The short collection runs for a total of seven A4 sized pdf pages.

© DLS Reviews



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