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November 15, 2020

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight ~ an Anthology Review

by Donna Huber

I'm not a huge fan of short fiction, but after I read (and loved) a collection of domestic thriller short stories I decided it was just the genres that I had read previously. So this anthology had two things that attracted me: 1. the short stories are in the suspense genre and 2. Rhys Bowen contributed a story. 
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight
November 2020; Suspense Publishing; 
978-0578750576; ebook, print (338 pages)
suspense, anthology
Nothing Good Happens After Midnight
 is a collection of 13 short stories that span the gamut of the suspense genre. The common thread that ties the stories together is they are all set in the wee hours between midnight and the break of day. I had only read two of the included authors - Rhys Bowen and Jeffery Deaver. Two more authors, Heather Graham and Hank Phillipi Ryan, I had heard of but have not read. I was largely unsure of what I was getting myself into.

All the stories are well written. I struggled with some of the early stories in the anthology. Some of it was because I was tired (I'm not adjusting well to time change). And some of it was because they were a little too strange for my taste. 

There are a few stories in the collection that would be excellent for sharing around a campfire. Night Shift by Linwood Barclay, Midnight in the Garden of Death by Heather Graham, and Tonight is the Night by Shannon Kirk are the perfect urban legend type stories that give us chills while roasting marshmallows. The first story features a news reporter who is waiting for his colleague at a bar. A stranger seating nearby strikes up a conversation that leads the reporter to share a tale in which he and another reporter stopped a mass shooting during the graveyard shift in the newsroom. There's a twist at the end, and though I put two and two together right before it was revealed, it gave me chills just the same. The second story starts off with teens sharing an urban legend about the graveyard they are camping in and then they become the stuff urban legends are made of. And lastly, Kirk's story involves a serial killer and a man whose tales no one ever believes.

If you are trying to scare your teenagers into being good, then John Lescroart's Easy Peasey is the ticket. An innocent teenage prank almost takes a deadly turn when on the same night another teen seeks revenge for being socially snubbed.

I was most surprised by A Creative Defense by Jeffery Deavers. I had listened to one or two of his short stories as audiobooks and thought they were just okay. Now I think that I just wasn't focused on the stories while listening as I was totally engaged in his entry. It was my favorite story in the collection.

I was a little disappointed with Bowen's entry, After Midnight: Cinderella Then and Now. Her short story encompassed two Cinderella stories. They were really more like scenes. In the fanfiction world, they would have been called drabbles. The Cinderella Then part of the story is based in the original fairytale. It starts with Cinderella fleeing the ball and ends when the guards show up at her home searching for the girl who fits the glass slipper. In between, Bowen adds the mystery of a stolen necklace. The second part, Cinderella Now, didn't really feel like a Cinderella story to me. It features a present-day hitchhiker who reveals her identity at just the right moment - to say more would give the story away. While I enjoyed the former, the latter fell flat for me.

The last story in the collection, ATM by Jon Land, was interesting but felt familiar. Unlike the other stories in the collection that have a supernatural element, this one does not feel like it was edging into horror territory. It was more of a feel-good story.

Overall, it's a nice collection of short stories. For people who love short stories, then this is definitely a book you'll want to read. The holidays are coming up, and with the diversity of stories, I can see this making a nice gift for your bookish friends and family.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. I like short fiction here and there. Usually it has to be in an anthology like 'America's Best short fiction'. I really enjoy international short fiction. I'll check this out.