A Whiff of O. Henry – Review of Dabbling in Crime

Dabbling in Crime is a collection of eleven short stories by Shelly Reuben. I picked out this book from Story Cartel as it was recommended for fans of O. Henry, John Steinbeck, Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. Giving such high expectations to the reader always puts the work under great scrutiny and many authors falter under this. Not Shelly Reuben! The stories are well written with intricate character formation, unique motives and a pinch of humour. The ending of the stories are also very distinct giving us a whiff of O. Henry stories.

Shelly Reuben has succeeded in writing eleven stories that are diverse yet equally good making it difficult to pick a favourite. Each story has something unique that strikes a chord with us. Death of a Violinist gives us Dante, a violin prodigy who gets tangled in unfortunate incidents beyond his control. Tsk. Tsk is a study into the working of human mind, the choices which we make and living with these decisions. The protagonist of this story and her plight is unforgettable. Herb Pomfrey in Mrs. Pomfrey’s Elderberry Wine fills us with sympathy to his plight and will leave us rooting for him, irrespective of the morality of his actions. The same can be said about Liliana Tannis in The Jewellery Counter. Lee Brill, a has-been actress addicted to fame and struggling with her declining popularity in Never a Cross Word is also a memorable character.  My Beautiful, Beautiful Child is a heart wrenching story of a father stalking the murderer of his daughter. My personal favourites are You Again and The One Thing You Can Count On. You Again tells the story of a lawyer calling her younger self for advice in making important life decisions. The One Thing You Can Count On introduces us to Tierney and Doe Madrigal, identical twins and best friends and the tragedy that changed their life forever. Shelly Reuben has magnificently portrayed the effects of various crimes in the story through subtle changes in the character behaviour. Even this small changes gives us an elaborate view into the working of the minds of the characters.

This book is an entertaining and fast paced read for anyone. Even if you are the kind of person who dislikes big and elaborate plots or parallel story lines or novels spanning pages and pages, you will still enjoy this short and sweet read. For seasoned readers, my advice is not to miss this book. So get your copy today and start reading.

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