No Comebacks by Frederick Forsyth (4.5 – 5 Stars)
Forsyth is a master on the same level as Wilber Smith when it comes to being a raconteur of tales. In the same was a Smith, he picks an area of the word he knows best for this set of short stories an pulls the reader in from the first paragraph. Of the ten short stories, I actually have three favorites and a fourth that I loved although it has a slight flaw which may never have been pointed out in previous reviews.
First, a bit about my three favorites without giving away the stories:
“Comeback” which is the first in the compendium is by far the best, showing us the flaws in the reasoning behind the plan to set up a murder for hire. Well done, right down to the last lines that hit the reader far between the eyes.
“The Emperor “wins my second place vote in this series, mainly because of the description of the fight to bring in the fabulous Marlin. Here is descriptive writing at it’s very best, capturing the full imagination of the reader right down to Murgatroyd’s bloody hands and the throes of death displayed by the monster. The final stages brought tears to my eyes. Truly the mark of a fabulous writier!
“Used in Evidence” brings out again the Master Tale Teller in Forsyth. He had me hanging on the ending for the old man wondering what the final evidence would show, right up to the last line. Remember to count your chickens.
The final great story “There are no Snakes in Ireland” is a mastery of showing human relationships and how different cultures react and perceive the same bits of information. It is also a model for remembering that racism can build up angers and tensions that have a comeback on the perpetrator of a prank. The one flaw is actually only obvious to a snake handling biologist who might have used a bit of tobacco or pipe tar to kill a snake in a manner that leaves it totally relaxed. By the time our snake had been in Big Billie’s tobacco contaminated pocket for even a few minutes, it would have been long gone from nicotine poisoning. But my telling you this isn’t a spoiler, since that’s not the end of the story.
Enjoy the read. You’ll learn why not to blackmail some “little people” and you’ll laugh at the consequences of greed and philanthropy. A great book to tell your buddies about!
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