Monday, January 17, 2011

"Voyeurs of Death" by Shaun Jeffrey

I've had an electronic copy of Shaun Jeffrey's short story collection, Voyeurs of Death, sitting on my hard drive for nearly a year now. It kind of got lost in the shuffle, but it came to my attention again over the holidays when I found out that Dark Regions Press was releasing a limited edition hardcover of the collection. So, I guess that makes my review a timely one. Neat.

Jeffrey, who also has a couple of novels out there including The Kult, and most recently Deadfall, offers up fifteen short stories that run the gamut in some of the favored monsters and legends in horror. Vampires, zombies, and all sorts of things that go bump in the night make appearances in this book. The collection was originally published in 2007, with eleven of the fifteen stories are previously published, appearing elsewhere from as recent as 2006 and as far back as 1993.

Among my favorites is "The Watchers", a story of a young couple out to spruce up their love life by visiting a parking spot in the middle of the night so strangers can watch their lovemaking. The anxiety and wariness on the part of the boyfriend is easy to relate to. Voyeurs of Death proves an apt story to the collection with that story in mind, but the title story in this book, "Voyeurs of Death", is a very different--and very brief--story of a husband's horrifying vision of his wife's murder. "Sin Eater" is one of the more unsettling stories, as a family of four must contend with an imposing visitor they are regrettably familiar with, who has come to hear their confessions. Then there is "Venetian Kiss" and its reminiscence to the kinds of stories you would expect from an episode of The Twilight Zone.

A couple of the stories fell flat with me, like "The Flibbertigibbet" and "Life Cycle", but stories like "The Watchers" and "The Quilters of Thurmond" makes up for them, in my opinion. Like any collection or anthology, you're not going to like them all, but you're bound to find more than a few that you will.

I'm not sure I could reasonably recommend you shell out a heap of cash for that limited edition hardcover, but I'm the kind of guy who is thoroughly content with a well-worn paperback sitting on my bookshelf anyway--that means I'm cheap--and it is, after all, a deluxe signed limited hardcover. If you've read Jeffrey's work and enjoyed it, and you are a book collector, then you should check into it. Otherwise, I suggest sticking with an electronic copy from, or perhaps a trade paperback edition if it's available.

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