Andrew Welsh-Huggins has got their number
— the number that relates to classic hard-boiled mystery novels with
flawed heroes; complicated goings-on that come clear only in the final
pages; love affairs a long way from first love but more interesting than
that well-traveled route; and an ending that brings you up short by way
of revealing things, logical but surprising, that neither you nor the
central character guessed.
A benefit of our shortened attention spans is the re-emergence of the short story. That pleasurable form of fiction, sliced thinner than a novel but at its best equally compelling, for a decade or two languished out of fashion but returns full of ginger. In Out of the Mountains, Meredith Sue Willis gives her characters the juice of life. Some turn up in more than one story, prompting the pleasure of recognition.
That kid -- you know, the one who collects rocks and digs a hole in the backyard just to see what's there -- will like this book. Author Charles Ferguson Barker is a geologist who, I suspect, never got over wanting to know what he'd find if he dug a hole.