Monday 21 September 2020



Twelve tales of mystery from the pen of best-selling author John Lutz, Shadows Everywhere collects much of the author's early work. You'll meet everyone from a “hardscrabble farm woman” to a volatile trucker with an explosive cargo, a cliff driver with dreams of gold, and women who are digging for it. Not every PI is a good guy, and not every villain gets his due. These tales twist and turn, surprise and entertain. Flowing from the imagination of a master story-teller, the stories in Shadows Everywhere are a classic glimpse into the worlds of a rare talent.

When I think of author John Lutz. two things spring to mind - Single White Female and a series character of his called Fred Carver, neither of which I've actually gotten around to reading. I did love the film and could easily stand giving it a re-watch sometime. The Carver books I always liked the sound of, but for once common sense and restraint prevailed and I never actually filled my boots buying them. I crossed paths with one in a second hand shop a few years, bought it and then benched it.

This collection of short stories was enjoyed a month ago and while not totally forgotten, without reference to the blurb for the book I'd be scratching my head trying to recall any of them. 

The collection comprises.....

Shadows Everywhere ....... a crooked PI, a marital investigation, a false report, some unforeseen consequences and a comeuppance

The Lemon Drink Queen..... a kidnapping, a trophy bride aka a caged bird, and a variation on the suicide by cop theme

A Rare Bird...... a bird-watcher, a corpse disposal, and an ill-thought out blackmail scheme

A Verdict of Death..... a missing woman, a murder trial without a corpse and an eventual license to kill 

All of a Sudden..... an average cop, and an ill-advised alliance, a few good years and some chickens coming home to roost 

Living All Alone..... a spinster temptress and a well fertilised orchard

Garden of Dreams..... a power cut, some dead plants and a maniacal gardener to contend with 

Prospectus on Death..... karma, the power of suggestion, what goes around comes around

Fair Shake..... an upcoming trial, an endangered witness, and police protection

The Midnight Train..... pig farming on a budget

Hector Gomez Provides..... a Mexican cliff diving tale 

Explosive Cargo..... a dodgy hitchhiker and a shady trucker cross paths

I liked the collection without ever being blown away by it. All of the stories had decent twists and most had resolutions which in hindsight kind of seemed obvious but as I wasn't especially trying to second guess them at all, I liked the elenent of surprise with the outcomes.

Favourites.......the title piece Shadows Everywhere and The Lemon Drink Queen. 

Least enjoyed ....... Hector Gomez Provides.

Entertaining...... all the others.

A corrupt PI, dodgy cops, untrustworthy widows, wives and spinsters, cheating husbands, schemers, plotters, revenge, ambition, greed and just like real life, some outcomes where the villains prevail and a few where they get their just desserts. 

4 from 5

John Lutz has been enjoyed before - The Truth of the Matter  and The Eye which was co-authored with Bill Pronzini

Read - (listened to) August, 2020

Published - 1994

Page count - 123 (4 hrs 31 mins)

Source - Audible purchase

Format - Audible


  1. This sounds like a good collection, Col, with some very decent stories in it. Sometimes, a short story collection is just the thing when you want to dip in and out, and not necessarily invest yourself in a whole novel. Glad you enjoyed this.

    1. Agreed Margot. I hope to read more from this author, both long and short form.