cover image Fatherhood and Other Stories

Fatherhood and Other Stories

Thomas H. Cook. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-60598-467-4

A mood of detachment hangs over the 11 selections in this first collection of short fiction from veteran Cook, best known for his stand-alone crime novels like The Chatham School Affair, an Edgar winner. In stories like “The Lessons of the Season” or “What She Offered,” emotionally shutdown characters get possibly useful insight into their situations by encountering even more distressed people. Rays of hope alleviate the chill of gloomy tales like “The Fix” and “The Sungazer.” Cook’s distant approach is less effective in communicating the barely repressed, demented rage of the narrator of the title story, which won the Herodotus Prize for best historical short story. Perhaps the most successful entry is the Edgar-finalist “Rain,” which has no central character, just a bleak series of vignettes in which little people fumble through relationships with each other and with pitiless nature. Only irremediably cheerful people should try to read this volume in one sitting. (May)