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Wednesday 7 December 2011

Zed Alley by Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I do feel that short stories have the prerogative to end with a metaphoric question mark – providing you have some material to be able to give you food for thought.  In this one, I was just a little confused.

A librarian attends a Crime Festival in Bristol (UK) and stumbles across a handbag in a dark alley; the handbag, among other things, contains a body part.  The police are unhelpful – they are somewhat bored by pranksters during this particular week – and she decides to try and solve the mystery herself.  Who does the handbag and body part belong to?

There were some slightly disconcerting aspects to the story.  There was no usual dialogue punctuation, i.e. opening and closing quotation marks, which took a little getting used to. The author was trying to convey the accent of the Bristol area, but it didn’t come off too well.  I live in Bristol so am all too familiar with it.  It didn’t hit the mark, unfortunately; it didn’t register as either Bristolian or Somerset.

The story needs some extra stuffing – I felt that there are some ‘scenes’ missing, the plot leaps ahead in bounds and I really needed a little extra padding for that question mark ending. With a little extra weight, this short story could well tip the scales into something a little more satisfying.  By the name and the very short description at the end of the book, I am assuming that English is Dorte’s second language.  If so, then I would say this is the best book by a foreign author I have read who is writing in a non-native tongue.  Her style is pleasant enough – the story was easy to read.  Our sleuthing librarian did have a very corny name…..Rhapsody Gershwin….yes I know, you have to be of a certain age to ‘get’ that.  But I couldn’t help but like it!

Not bad, but I think this is still a WIP.

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