The Harlequin In The Window and other stories
I met Ron as a fellow student on my MA course when we reviewed each other's work for our assignments. I fell in love with his writing immediately - its quirky, offbeat humour was very different to my own style but is exactly the kind of writing that appeals to me. He told me how much he'd been influenced by the work of Raymond Chandler and when I finally got time to sit and read one of Chandler's books, I could see the similarities in style. I always gave a little squeal of joy when Ron's name appeared in my 'to critique' pile especially when the story featured the glorious private detective, Mr Lemon. I've been begging him ever since to publish them so I get to read the whole collection, so when a fellow graduate discovered he'd secretly published four collections of his short stories, I was delighted that she passed this information on to the less observant amongst us.
This collection of stories is everything I've come to expect from Ron's writing. Anyone who has read any of the previous issues of Makarelle will already be familiar with his style and if you enjoyed the stories in the magazines, I guarantee you will love this book. Ron has the wonderful ability to catch you off-guard at every turn. Stories like High Tea make you laugh at the beginning but have you crying by the end. Future Imperfect uses one of the oldest plot twists going, but I never saw it coming and Bridge of Size kept me guessing about what was going on until the final paragraphs.
I'd be hard pushed to choose a favourite from amongst these, but I can't end this review without mentioning Loving Queen Boudicca and Playback. I loved both these stories for very different reasons. The former is Ron at his best - bizarre situations that the characters just take in their stride with nods and winks to the reader. However, in Playback a different side of his style comes to the fore. The comic moments are still there, but they are more subtle in tone and the theme is one which seems to run through many of these stories: the grass isn't always greener and sometimes love is right under your nose. For all the comedy that makes me love my friend's writing, I think it sometimes puts me in danger of seeing his work as something that is 'only' light. Stories like Playback remind me of the quality of his writing and the skill involved in using humour to great effect in difficult situations. It was simply beautiful.
Once I've completed this year's writing challenge, I'll be downloading the other three books and begging Ron, AGAIN, to release Mr Lemon onto an unsuspecting public!
If you want to read more of Ron's work it can be found here:
Makarelle One - printed/kindle version of the stories below