Murder by Bear and Other Short Stories (2016) by Marlow Kelly is a collection of short stories about women in various stages of their lives facing all manner of situations.
There is four short stories in the collection. The first story is Murder by Bear and though I liked all the stories in the collection, this was one of my two favourites. The protagonist in this short is Julia Hepburn and she is currently married to a man called Mike. They have an unhappy marriage and they trek off to Churchill, Manitoba where Julia encounters a polar bear who is out to kill her. I don’t want to give away the story but there is numerous twists and turns and she meets another man on the trip called Jake who something may happen with. Very fast-paced and so much packed into such a short piece. I was enthralled from start to finish and intrigued to know where this was going. Oh and I couldn’t stand Mike at all. The writer said in the collection that Murder by Bear was her first piece that she wrote and it is not only a very strong first attempt, it is simply a very strong piece and I knew from it that this was penned by a very good writer with great storytelling techniques which hook readers in. Next up is Escape where our protagonist is Marilee who is running away from her past in a small town in British Colombia, Canada. For much of this story, I didn’t know where it was going. As it went on, I started to. It works very well because the author gives you little clues as to where it is going, hoodwinks the reader when needed but is also fair to the reader to allow them work it out and again and it was something that ran throughout this collection, there is a sense of suspense and intrigue which keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next. Marlow also wrote small-town life perfectly and I lived in a small-town most of my life so I think I can judge that fairly.
In the third story, we meet Emily. This story is called The Encounter and is the shortest in the collection. Set in Victorian England, specifically 1838, Emily is out to make ends meat in London. In so few words, we get a lot about Emily’s backstory and once again the suspense of where this is leading is very well crafted and documented. The final story in the collection is First Impressions where the main character is Ann Hamilton. The story is a Mother’s Day story by the author who gives a brief bit of history about the day which I didn’t know and found very interesting. The story is based in England in 1905 and is about Ann who loves to draw and George who loves taking notes on wildlife. Through their mothers they are reluctantly forced together and I would say this is my other favourite story in the collection. The dialogue is great, very believable. Ann is very likeable and George, though he has a few flaws which made me go whoa, I liked too and I was rooting for them. Some of it was a bit predictable but just when you think you know where this is going, you don’t. There is more than meets the eye. Very imaginative and flows very easily.
Marlow also includes the first chapter of her 2017 novel Sun Seeker which certainly made me interested to read more of that particular book in the future.
A really great read.
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