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Do the World a Favour, and Other Stories based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Coward, Edgar-nominated for his short fiction, displays a light, ironic touch throughout. He has a keen eye for mannerisms and speech patterns, and presents a cast of realistic, all too human characters in the midst of crisis. The stories involve small, intensely personal moments ranging in tone from dark to comic, in period from the 17th century to the present. They are uniformly tight, efficient and well-written, sprinkled with observations that make you sit up and take notice, such as these lines from the hardboiled private eye yarn, ¿The Shortest Distance¿: ¿Ugly people rule the world. All that frustrated sexual energy has to go somewhere.¿ In Coward¿s world, the protagonists are mostly male, often loners. There¿s a cop who¿s being subtly blackmailed by a fellow policeman and must take action to end it. There¿s a man who uses an incident from his past over and over for profit. There¿s a tough with a peculiar sense of honor. There¿s the father of a murdered young woman who speaks up in her accused killer¿s defense. There¿s a cab driver that takes revenge on a haughty passenger. My particular favorites from the collection include ¿No Night by Myself,¿ concerning a lonely man who invites himself into a family¿s Christmas celebrations, and ¿Twelve of the Little Buggers,¿ an hilarious romp involving the trials of a writer forced to wrangle a dozen feral cats to satisfy the demands of his editor. Steeped in atmosphere and peppered with pungent slang, the stories in Do the World a Favour nonetheless have universal appeal. The characters that populate the collection¿s pages, while not always sympathetic, are always lifelike. The situations, though sometimes unpleasant, are believable. The exchanges of dialogue, often blunt, ring true. I have one minor quibble with the collection. After each selection, the author gives a brief commentary about the story¿s inspiration or background. While these insights into the workings of a writer¿s mind are not uninteresting in their own right, their inclusion consumed about nine pages of the total volume of the book. Frankly, I would have been more than happy to exchange those nine relatively static pages for another of Coward¿s tidy and emotionally involving tales. They¿re that good.