Books: No Comebacks

I have read and enjoyed several novels by Frederick Forsyth. I was browsing at the library recently, looking to see if there were any new titles by Forsyth I hadn’t read. I wasn’t sure about some of the newer ones, but I saw one among the older titles (you can often tell which books are older by their covers) that I knew I had never read.

No Comebacks turned out to be not a novel but a collection of short stories. That was fine with me – it meant I could read at bedtime without worrying that I’d stay up too late because I just had to read one more chapter.

The first story in the volume, however, turned out not to be good bedtime reading. No gore, though it is about murder – just very cold-blooded. There was not a single person in the story I had any liking for (admittedly, a short story doesn’t have many characters), and I found no entertainment value in reading about plans to commit murder. The ending – a surprise twist, like most of the stories in this collection – is clever, and perhaps fitting, but didn’t redeem the story in my eyes.

The second story also dealt with murder, and if the third had also, I was going to quit and return the book to the library. I read in one of the review of this book that its stories often have the “violent or malicious undercurrent” that “one would expect from Forsyth.” Violence I expected; perhaps it is the “malicious” part that I have trouble with.

In any case, several of the remaining stories I liked much better. Since the surprise ending is what makes the story in most cases, I can’t say much about the plots. (See the link above to to read the reader reviews to get an idea what some of them are about.) But they are well-written and – in most cases – a satisfying surprise how they turn out.

After the first story, I read the others in the afternoon or early evening. Perhaps Forsyth just isn’t good for reading in bed.


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