Short stories can be an acquired taste. The bad ones often feel like someone abruptly turning the telly off 10 minutes into an hour-long programme, leaving you scratching your head as you wonder what it was all about. Full disclosure: there are a couple of those tales in Cast A Long Shadow, an anthology of Welsh women’s crime stories published by Honno.
But that’s the joy of a collection such as this – if you find yourself in the middle of a plot you don’t care for, you need only flick forward a few pages to find one that you do. And with 20 short stories featuring everything from an avenging gorgon to a little girl impaling the schoolyard bully on a spike, there is enough crime on display here to make even Wind Street at closing time look quiet.
The story that gives the compilation its title is a deliciously old-fashioned and utterly satisfying whodunnit, while the anthology’s two standout works come towards the end. One masterfully explores the devastating effect English supremacy has wrecked on Welsh culture throughout time by twinning the miners’ strike with the (alleged) theft of Stonehenge, while the other is a modern-day melodrama involving council houses, cannabis and the most distinctively Welsh voices witnessed since Dave and Shirley first joined the cast of Gogglebox.
Cast A Long Shadow: Welsh Women Writing Crime, Katherine Standfield & Caroline Oakley [eds.] (Honno)
Price: £8.99. Info: here
words RACHEL REES
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