Tuesday 14 December 2021



Synopsis/blurb ...

Murder Squad, a group of award-winning crime and mystery writers, celebrate their twenty-first birthday with a bang in this criminally good collection of short stories.

A dawn swim turns deadly in a brand-new short story starring DCI Vera Stanhope . . . Two bored cell-mates play a game with chilling results . . . A hen night in an isolated cottage brings new meaning to ‘I will survive’ . . . A train traveller teaches a valuable lesson in reading labels . . . A day at the seaside turns stormy for a woman who doesn’t care for foreigners . . . A wealthy retiree makes a new friend who connects her to the Other Side . . . and much much more.

Short, sharp and packed with twists, these 21 unputdownable tales showcase Murder Squad’s range and talent throughout the years. So why not treat yourself to a slice of murderously moreish fiction, and join us in wishing the squad ‘Many Deadly Returns’.

With stories by Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Margaret Murphy, Chris Simms and Cath Staincliffe, as well as John Baker, Chaz Brenchley and Stuart Pawson.

Twenty-one short stories enjoyed via Audible, courtesy of Isis Audio and a chance to catch up with and enjoy some of Britain's best known crime fiction authors. Many years ago I read and enjoyed a book each by John Baker and Stuart Pawson. Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards, Chris Simms and Cath Staincliffe (as well as more Baker and Pawson) sit on the TBR pile. I guess I'm not the only one with more books than actual time to read them.

These 20 plus stories were enjoyed early morning accompanied by black coffee in a comfortable chair before the rest of the household was awake. Typically the stories feature such crime fiction staples as  murder, adultery, revenge and family.

I think it's harder to remember a barrage of short stories consumed one after the other than it is to absorb the salient points of a novel that is being read. That said I think there was only one story which didn't really deliver for me. The others all had a decent set up and pay off. 

Highlights were Skeleton Crew and The Passenger by Chris Simms, as well as The Fox and the Hens by Kate Ellis. Pawson's Ultra Violent was very good as well. I enjoyed meeting Vera Stanhope in Wild Swimming and an overheard conversation on a train journey from Martin Edwards (Bad Friday) was well worth a listen. Simms story The Passenger was quite topical and relevant with some food for thought. Most of the others seemed to reinforce the old adage that crime doesn't always pay. Sometimes it does.

Lots more to like here than not and a bit of a reminder to try and get to some longer offerings from these guys. I think Chris Simms will be elevated to the top of the TBR pile for January, 2022.

For my OCD completist self, the full story list was as follows:

Margaret Murphy – Foreword 

Martin Edwards – Introduction 

Ann Cleeves – Wild Swimming 

Martin Edwards – Lucky Liam

Cath Staincliffe – Scorpion 

Chris Simms – Skeleton Crew 

Kate Ellis – The Fox and the Hens 

John Baker – An Old-Fashioned Poisoning 

Margaret Murphy – Read the Label 

Kate Ellis – My Oleander 

Ann Cleeves – The Queen of Mystery 

Chaz Brenchley – For Kicks 

Cath Staincliffe – Two Birds 

Margaret Murphy – Big End Blues 

Martin Edwards – Bad Friday

Chris Simms – The Passenger 

Kate Ellis – The Confessions of Edward Prime 

Stuart Pawson – Ultra Violent 

Cath Staincliffe – Perfect Storm 

Chris Simms – Gaffed 

Martin Edwards – The Other Life 

Ann Cleeves – A Winter’s Tale 

Editor - Martin Edwards
Margaret Murphy – Still Life

Overall - a great early morning eye-opener for the drab and dreary early December. 

4 from 5

Read - (listened to) December, 2021

Published - 2021

Page count - 194 (9 hrs 13 mins)

Source - review copy from Isis Audio

Format - Audible


  1. This looks like a great collection, Col. I'm not surprised, either, as Edwards is, I think, a very skilled editor. Nice, too, to see some less well-known authors as well as some 'names.' I like getting to know authors whose work is perhaps less familiar. And a good short story collection is great for dipping into as one has the time.

    1. I did enjoy this collection Margot and like you say, it's an opportuntiy to sample some new authors writing.