Twisting Roads collects four short stories in a single slim volume. The title seems to refer to the numerous plot twists, which in a few cases threaten to become hopelessly knotted.
In one story, a dinner party at a village hall that has a reputation for being haunted inspires the guests to try and frighten one another, with deadly results. In another, an affair spontaneously erupts into violence (actually, that happens in two of the stories here). Another tale involves hallucinations by a drunk that may or may not point to a murderous past.
Author June Zetter begins with intriguing ideas, but they occasionally get lost in spelling errors and careless mistakes that must be deciphered in order to follow along (for example: “of cause” instead of “of course,” “proberbly,” and so on). And sometimes the story itself leaves the reader feeling shortchanged: in two separate tales, for example, the bad and good guys suffer the same drastic comeuppance, which is hardly satisfying.
The text offers no paragraph breaks, so the writing feels rushed; each story just zooms headlong toward the finish on pages of solid type. The author also offers no breaks between dialogue and story: “”What a great night it had been” [sic] Colin was pleased with himself he had won at poker.” In one of the stories, a conversation is recounted without anything that denotes a change of speaker. It’s not a terribly long passage, but it is tiring to read.
Zetter’s appreciation for a good O’Henry surprise ending is an asset; the formula is evergreen when done well, and she’s come up with promising material, at least in outline. However, the stories need to be cleaned up and clarified to be a truly enjoyable book.
Also available in ebook.