Murder in the Family

Murder in the FamilyNine tales of love, death, vengeance and murder.

He got to keep the minivan, but lost the family he bought it for. But sometimes, murder is a cheaper solution than divorce…

A travelling salesman vanishes, leaving behind a wife, two children, countless lonely housewives and his hat floating in a stream. But what really happened to Jack Bryce?

A foundling, a newborn, abandoned and left to die. But tonight, he will have his revenge on the parents who deserted him. Tonight, they will pay, at the very place where the story once began, at Lovers’ Ridge…

Thirty years ago Jimmy Donnelly was sent to prison. Now he’s free again and eager to finally avenge himself on the man who put him behind bars. But thirty years is a long time. And sometimes, it’s too late for vengeance.

You don’t want to owe a favour to the mafia, especially not when the boss himself comes to collect. But what could a hairdresser possibly have to offer to the mob?

Jack Slater is the worst sort of criminal scum, a pursesnatcher who hangs out on cemeteries to relieve old ladies of their handbags. But when he snatches Eudora Pennington’s purse, Jack gets more than he bargained for.

She’d seen something she shouldn’t have. He was commanding of the death squad sent to eliminate her. But one look into each others’ eyes changed both their lives…

Peter Simmons was a man of roaming hands, who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, a man who took whatever he wants, whether it’s cookies from a jar or the single Mom who moved in next door. But sometimes, getting caught with a hand in the wrong cookie jar can be deadly…

Waiting for your boyfriend to finally come home from work can be hell, especially if it’s your anniversary and you suspect he forgot – again. But does the ringing of the doorbell promise roses and sex and the long overdue proposal or something far more sinister?

A collection of nine short crime tales of 18800 words altogether.

Warning: This is a collection of crime stories, so there will be murder, death, sexual harassment, bad words and assorted other unpleasantness involved.

Read an excerpt.

List price: 3.99 USD, EUR or 2.99 GBP
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Additional information:

  • Murder in the Family is a collection of eight short crime stories and 18800 words altogether. One of the stories, “Family Car”, was published in newleaf No. 10. The others are digital premieres that have never been published anywhere before.
  • The stories Family Car, Honeypot, Loot and Thirty Years to Life are also available as standalone editions. The remaining five stories, however, are exclusive to this collection and cannot be found anywhere else.
  • Unlike common practice, the collection title Murder in the Family is not the title of any of the individual stories in the collection. Instead, I chose it because all of the stories deal with crimes (murder mostly, but not exclusively) and families and relationships in some way.
  • The stories in this collection were written in the style of the so-called “abgeschlossener Kurzkrimi”, the self-contained short crime stories that were a staple of German magazine backpages in my youth and taught me a lot about short story structure.
  • Most of the stories in this collection started out as exercises for the university creative writing workshop. The exception is “Gone”, which was originally written for a flash fiction contest. The prompt for that contest was a photo of a hat floating in a mountain brook. “Gone” never made it into the finals, but I liked the story enough that I reworked it and included it in this collection.
  • “Gone” also ties in to an as yet to be finished and published contemporary romance novel. It’s basically the family background of the heroine.
  • “Lovers’ Ridge” was originally written in response to a “How to…” prompt in a creative writing class I took in my second semester. Indeed, the original title was “How to kill your parents”. I changed the title during a later revision. Coincidentally, “Lovers’ Ridge” is also the oldest story in this collection, originally written sometime in the early 1990s, though it has been through several rounds of revisions since then.
  • Next to “Lovers’ Ridge”, “Thirty Years To Life” is the oldest story in this collection. In fact, I wrote both at around the same time, though I have no memory of the inspiration that prompted me to write “Thirty Years To Life”. In fact, I had completely forgotten about the story until I came upon it among some old files.
  • “Family Car” was inspired by a TV commercial for the Volkswagen Sharan minivan, which ran years ago. The commercial basically showed the divorced Dad showing up at his ex-wife’s to pick up his kid for a weekend outing. The wife asks if he is keeping the car, since minivans are for families and he doesn’t have one anymore. However, the Dad keeps the minivan anyway, because it’s just such an awesome car. At the time, the commercial infuriated me, because I found it irresponsible to exploit the heartbreak and pain associated with divorces and broken families to sell cars. Never mind that I believed that kids shouldn’t be exposed to divorce as something normal and commonplace, because it would only raise fears of their own parents separating (that was before I became a teacher and realized how many kids already live in broken families). The commercial made me so angry that I wrote a letter to Volkswagen‘s PR department and also considered complaining to the German advertising standards authority. However, I never got around to doing the latter, because the commercial went off the air after a few weeks. I guess I wasn’t the only person who complained. At around the same time, I also wrote “Family Car” to give that awful commercial a satisfying ending (the wife was really annoying).
  • When I read “Family Car” at the launch event for newleaf No. 10, an elderly gentleman (newleaf is a university magazine, so elderly gentleman are rare in the audience) asked me whether my family owned a dark green minivan. Some people tend to view anything as autobiographical.
  • When I presented “Payback Time” to the university creative writing workshop, it received critiques that the mafioso’s dialogue wasn’t believable, because he didn’t sound like Marlon Brando in The Godfather. The critique did have a point in that the dialogue in the original draft was a bit stilted. Nonetheless, a lot of people seem to have problems comprehending that The Godfather was not a documentary.
  • “Loot” is based on a true story, which happened to an acquaintance of my great aunt.
  • “Honeypot” was inspired by an actual case of a man who turned out to have been sexually harrassing women for decades and always got away with it, because he was such a nice and helpful man that no woman dared to complain. I don’t think that guy ever went as far as raping anybody, but he was known to be harrasser from his twenties up to beyond pension age.
  • “He never brings me flowers” was the first story of mine that “killed a market” so to say. That is, I sold “He never brings me flowers” to a magazine called Moonletters, which folded before they could print the story, hence the story killed the market.
  • I honestly did not notice the parallel rose motif in “He never brings me flowers” and “Lovers’ Ridge” until I read both stories back to back while getting this collection ready. It’s even the same number of roses in both stories, though the roses in “He never brings me flowers” are red, while those in “Lovers’ Ridge” are white.
  • I can’t really say much about “At first sight”, largely because I don’t remember writing it. I came across the story in a file of old stories and liked it enough to dust it off, revise it and include it in this collection. I strongly suspect that I wrote the original for a creative writing class at university.
  • The cover is a still life featuring a pair of handcuffs, a gun, a bullet casing and a single red rose. The handcuffs are real police handcuffs. The gun is not real but a pretty convincing toy gun from my collection, since strict firearms laws in Germany make real guns hard to come by. The shell is a WWII leftover I dug up in my parents’ garden. The rose is supposed to represent the roses that play an important role in “He never brings me flowers” and “Lovers’ Ridge”.
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