The Starlings and Other Stories is a collection of twelve short stories which are literally, if not snapshots, at least inspired by photographs. Editor Ann Cleeves invited each of her fellow members of Murder Squad to bring in an accomplice, and write a short story inspired by the dramatic photography of Pembrokeshire-based author David Wilson.
The squad and their accomplices are:
Ann Cleeves & Valerie Laws
Martin Edwards & Helena Edwards
Cath Staincliffe & Mary Sharratt
Chris Simms & Jim Kelly
Kate Ellis & Christine Poulson
Margaret Murphy & Toby Forward
Squad member Chris Simms talked to Shots Mag about The Starlings and Other Stories – and other things!
“Well, this is one of the most impressive collections of short stories that I’ve come across – beautifully crafted stories in a beautifully crafted book.”
“There is an immense amount of talent on display here (not only from Mr Wilson either) each author adding their own indomitable style to things and giving us a varied and utterly compelling set of stories that will stay with you a long time. This is one of those times where I won’t tell you much else – I won’t review each individual one because the point here, very much so, is to have an immersive experience with the imagery and the storytelling…
“All in all fantastic. A book lover’s dream – if you are a collector you need this for your shelf.”
This second collection of short stories from the Murder Squad was edited by Martin Edwards, with stories from Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards, Margaret Murphy, Stuart Pawson and Cath Staincliffe. Two of its stories were joint winners of that year’s CWA Short Story Dagger – Cath Staincliffe’s Laptop and Margaret Murphy’s The Message. Their success was announced on 5th July at the CWA Awards Ceremony in London – get the lowdown over on the CWA Daggers website.
Funny and sad, atmospheric and dark, ingenious and frightening, this is a great readers’ group collection. Best Eaten Cold is published by the History Press, and can be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository. But if you like your copies signed, try Linghams Bookshop, Heswall.
The Murder Squad’s first anthology, titled simply Murder Squad was published in 2001 and is now out of print, though copies may still be around in second-hand bookshops and online.
Edited by Martin Edwards, it had two stories from each of the then members of Murder Squad, except Chaz Brenchley who opted for one double-length story. Val McDermid provided a forward. Ann Cleeves’s story The Plater was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger.
What the critics said:
Their first collection gets my vote for anthology of the year. The collective has brought together a group of very different authors who complement each other’s work superbly. There are private eye stories, police procedurals and pieces in which ordinary people become involved in terrible events. The one thing that they all have in common is lively and literary writing.
Mat Coward, Morning Star.
Highly enjoyable. An intriguing and encouraging example of literary co-operation. The individual talents of its members are well showcased in this anthology. For those who have never read any of its contributers’ novels it provides an ideal introduction, but is also an enjoyable volume in its own right, and on both counts deserves to find widespread publicity and success.
Paul M. Chapman, Sherlock Holmes Magazine.