The Long Way Home: Richard Chizmar (Kendall Review)

Back in 2017, I read my first book by Richard Chizmar. The Long December was a solid 5 star read that ended up featuring on my ‘Best of 2017‘ blog post. The bar had been set very high so it was with great excitement I started 2019 with Richard’s brand new collection, The Long Way Home.

Published by PS Publishing, The Long Way Home features seventeen short stories, two essays and the script for Murder House. I bought the Unsigned Jacketed Hardcover, and it really is a beautiful book, both in quality and looks. But how do the books contents fare?

‘The Sculpter’ I loved this crazy descent into madness and murder. Avoiding spoilers, but following the barman’s journey from the bar had me smiling like a lunatic, very cleverly set up and had me smiling like a lunatic. ‘Roses And Raindrops’ Children are being killed, their deaths coinciding with storms. This is a solid short that reads like a fable or dark fairy tale. The passage about reflecting on old age whilst sitting on the porch is quite wonderful. ‘Murder House Script’ An interesting read, but I just can’t get on with the script format. For me, the story doesn’t flow due to all the stage directions. I appreciate this is a personal thing, but I struggled with this. Saying that, the story was great and I’m looking forward to watching the movie, which is due out here in the UK, Summer 2019. ‘The Long Way Home’ cements Chizmar as an author that can write emotional character driven fiction. Even good people can do bad things. This is my favourite story in the collection as Charlie reflects on his past whilst he travels back to his childhood home. The passages with Charlie and his father catching fireflies were gorgeous. ‘Widow’s Point’ I enjoyed this story just as much as when I first read it back in January 2018. Multiple timelines are expertly crafted in a fantastically atmospheric ghost story. ‘The Association’ I thought this was brilliant. Chizmar skillfully sets this story up to deliver one hell of a gut punch ending, ‘Silent Night’ I loved the imagery of the man in his car overlooking a rain-swept cemetery. This tale puts you through the emotional wringer. Some ghosts are real. ‘The Witch’ Frank and Ben, my favourites detectives from A Long December return with the same wonderful banter, this time investigating a death at Halloween they also feature in a second short, ‘The Hunch’ where Frank and Ben investigate a missing child. These two make for such an entertaining read, I’m delighted we will be rejoining these Frank and Ben later in 2019 in a new mini collection. A must buy! ‘The Man In The Black Sweater’ is a genius example of Drabble. A one hundred word story, no more, no less. Perfection on a single page. ‘Mischief’ and ‘Dirty Coppers’ were both superb, with the former a thoroughly entertaining tale featuring a serial killer to the latter being a pulpy noir tale featuring a sci-fi world that’s a real mish-mash of retro and futuristic, that I’d love to return to. ‘A Nightmare On Elm Lane’ again showing the authors strengths of creating characters you care for, this tale has a theme recurrent in Chizmar stories (especially in A Long December) where it’s the bad things going on behind closed curtains, that neighbour who may or may not be trustworthy. Here we have a father and son unearthing something incredibly sinister in their backgarden. ‘Odd Numbers’ I found this tragic story incredibly unsettling. Skilled writing made for an upsetting read. Was it real or all in the main protagonists head?

The Long Way Home is a multi genre collection that will appeal to anyone looking for well crafted tales featuring decent characterisation. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the essays, but I’m not so sure how many times I’d return to them, but like Chizmar’s previous collection it’s the brilliance of the fiction that has captivated me. Beautifully written stories that will equally engage you emotionally as they will horrify you. This is a sublime page turner that’s in many ways better than The Long December, and I really don’t think I could offer a higher compliment to The Long Way Home than that.

Gathered here for the first time ever are seventeen short stories, two essays, and a short script by award winning and New York Times bestselling author, Richard Chizmar.

Eerie, suspenseful, poignant, the stories in The Long Way Home run the gamut from horror to suspense, crime to dark fantasy, mainstream to mystery. This brand new collection features more than 100,000 words of short fiction, as well as more than 5,000 words of autobiographical Story Notes. Chizmar’s previous short story collection, A Long December, was published in 2016 to starred reviews from Library Journal and Kirkus, and was included on numerous “Best Books of the Year” lists. Entertainment Weekly gave the book high praise: “Each tale is a magic trick, luring you toward the light while leading you down an ever-darkening path. There is hope mingled with horror, and that’s Chizmar’s secret power. His storytelling always beats with a huge, passionate heart.”

You can buy The Long Way Home from PS Publishing

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