Reading short story collections can be a mixed bag of nuts. You can get a few good stories and a bunch of duds. Or you can get a majority of good stories with only a few lesser quality stories. The beauty of The Deepening Shade by Jake Hinkson is that it contains only great stories. The fact is that Hinkson seems to only write great literature. I have yet to read anything by him that is less than stellar.
Most of the stories in this collection have been previously published in various magazines and collections, but there are 5 new ones within this collection. It is a treat to have them all collected in one work and be able to sit down and enjoy them in one sitting. Some of my favorites from this 15-story collection (stories numbered by their appearance in the collection):
#1: Maker’s and Coke
A tight little tale of a police officer that lets his inhibitions run wild after a breakup and ends up in a situation he could not have foreseen. I enjoyed this story, as it kicked off this collection with an introduction to the fact Hinkson puts typical people into typical situations with less than typical results.
#6: The Empty Sky
I loved that this story shows us that even preachers in training are tempted by the flesh and can find themselves in situations beyond their capability to accept or rectify. Told in a flashback, this story gives you a peek at the ending right off the bat, but the ride that gets you there is nothing you would expect.
#7: Cold City
A story about a cop that is in deep to a bookie to the tune of 30G? A story with a cop looking beyond the law to get himself back to even? A cop that is smarter than he seems and a willingness to use others to even the score? Sign me up pronto! This was a sure-fire winner!
# 9: Good Cover
Perspective is in the eye of the beholder. This tale allows you the beauty of seeing a killer, but depending on the light you see him in, your perspective of him as a man can, and will, change. Another story that I loved from a collection that was full of great stories.
#13: Casual Encounters
What happens when life doesn’t pan out the way you thought it would and you look outside your comfort zone for a way to bring some excitement to your life? Well if you are part of a Hinkerson short story, the answer is nothing but misery and heartache. This was probably my favorite story in this collection!
Don’t be misled that I only listed 5 stories in this recap. Every story in the collection is great on its own merit. The stories are all tight, well-written stories that leave you marveling at Hinkerson’s ability to paint pictures of beauty using only words. This was a pleasure to read and showcases Hinkerson’s ability to write works of wonder, regardless of the word-count. Another winner from All Due Respect Books, but at this point, I expect no less from them.