cover image Promises Made and Broken: 13 Stories

Promises Made and Broken: 13 Stories

Christine Matthews. Perfect Crime (, $12.95 trade paper (210p) ISBN 978-1-935797-55-5

This impressive debut collection from Matthews (On the Strength of Wings) brings together 11 previously published and two new stories that constitute what might be called “thinking” mysteries. Matthews doesn’t merely follow convention by offering surprise endings or unexpected twists, but makes readers reexamine their initial assumptions about the characters. Several selections feature PI Robbie Stanton, who deals cleverly with a deadbeat dad but not so cleverly with her own dad in “Gentle Insanities.” In the title story, Stanton helps an 87-year-old skydiving great-grandmother lay a ghost and solve a crime. One of the gems of the volume is “Dr. Sullivan’s Library,” a blackly humorous tale in which psychiatrist Max Sullivan classes his patients by genre—biographies, westerns, thrillers, etc.—as he searches for a particular type and a particular purpose. Ed Gorman provides an appreciative introduction. In an afterword, Matthews talks about writing stories in various genres, including horror and western. (Apr.)