Published by All Due Respect Books one knows that The Deepening Shade: New and Collected Stories by Jake Hinkson is not going to be one of those light and happy books. All Due Respect is known for their anthologies and other projects where the happy people and cozy cats would be killed and their bodies buried upside down in that old rock quarry outside of town. There are no happy people in The Deepening Shade: New and Collected Stories where the tone of the tales is dark and where religion and/or alcohol often play a role. Sometimes their role is minor and other times their role is major. Often times neither is the answer as events grind along with a certain inevitability due to fate and the choices these characters make. Finding the line between fate and personal choice is rarely easy and such is the case here.
The read opens with “Maker’s and Coke.” Stopping by Knight’s Liquor Store on the way to work was a possible mistake. Certainly drinking on duty was a definite mistake.
Dancing as Dixie Delight at The Fur Trap doesn’t change the fact that she is “The Big Sister.” Janie has a huge problem and needs her help.
The girl is not only pregnant, but has been roughed up a bit in “The Girl from Yesterday.” The guy who walked into the homeless shelter with her did not look like the kind of guy who would do that, but the bad guys who do that sort of thing are not always obvious. Marie Porter, one of the people who runs the place, wants to know a lot more.
Not only is Randy considered Mister Employee of the Month” at Alltel he is also more than willing once prompted to talk about “Randy’s Personal Lord and Savior.” The backstory of why he does not drink and is so religious is the point of the tale.
Just after noon on one August afternoon three robbers come into the restaurant looking for money and more. Marianne’s attention on her potential client is destroyed. In the “Aftermath” of the robbery her perspective and maybe even her world is changed.
She never had children and now, in a strange twist of fate, she lives in a nursing home across the street from a daycare. What might have been is the ache of memory as well as physical pain in “The Empty Sky.”
Graham has a major problem and needs Larry’s help in “Cold City.” Since both are cops the problem is worse than for a normal citizen. Then too, because they are cops, they have certain options.
There are problems that the McDonalds Corporation doesn’t pay enough for one to deal with minutes before going off duty. A customer is publicly making a big deal about one such problem in “Microeconomics” so now it has to be dealt with before things get worse.
A Police Sniper is hard at work in the very short “Good Cover.”
Handling snakes as a test of religious faith is just part of the deal at work in “The Serpent Box.” It is not news to crime readers that serpents come in many forms.
He’d known that night after she screamed in her sleep that being with her had been a mistake. In “Night Terrors” the waking hours afterwards are worse and the stuff of nightmares.
When your wife is cousins with somebody you have to do things with folks would prefer not to do. Such is the case here in “Dinner with Friends.” If only they all knew what you were capable of and had done you might not have to sit around and listen to these idiots.
It was just supposed to be funny. The ad was supposed to be a way to blow off some steam. Then things got really serious in “Casual Encounter.”
Attending the meetings of recovering alcoholics was a means to an end in “The Theologians.” He might not be the only one using the group meetings for a far different purpose.
Summer heat in Arkansas is just part of the background in “Our Violence.” So too is the legacy of family as well as unresolved childhood issues that could be based on genetic as much as nurturing.
A read containing stories of characters dealing with the blows of life, The Deepening Shade: New and Collected Stories is a work that resonates on many levels. A hard scrabble way of life is the background to many of these tales as folks deal with events of various types. Dark humor is at work here as is religion, desperation, and crime. Whether choice is really at work in each of these tales, as some would argue, is a question that often is not easily answered. These stories feature people dealing with events where fate and choice are the opposite sides of the same coin and it is up to the reader to determine which way the coin landed.
The Deepening Shade: New and Collected Stories by Jake Hinkson showcases a complexity and a variety not seen in many short story collections or even anthologies for that matter. Much is at work in each of these tales in a book that is not for everyone. A mighty good read and one well worth your time both as a reader and as a writer.
The Deepening Shade: New and Collected Stories
All Due Respect Books
E-Book (Paperback available)
Material supplied by the publisher last fall for my use in an objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2015