Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: More Stories from Mick Herron


Dolphin Junction by Mick Herron was published in 2021 and features 11 short stories previously published between 2006 and 2019.

The  book includes four stories about the Oxford wife-and-husband detective team of Zoë Boehm and Joe Silvermann, characters from Herron's Oxford Investigations series, plus a story about Jackson Lamb, top agent in the Slow Horses series, which goes back to a time in the past when he had an assignment in Berlin. There are also six short stories with no connection to any of his novels.

Back in April of this year, I read the first six short stories from Dolphin Junction. My review of the six stories is here.

This week I read the remaining five stories. Here are my descriptions and thoughts on those stories.

"The Other Half" 

The third Joe Silvermann / Zoë Boehm story in the book. This one focuses primarily on Joe, who is approached by an acquaintance whose apartment was recently trashed by his ex-girlfriend after he broke up with her. He wants Joe to help him get revenge.

“All the Livelong Day” 

A man and his wife are on a five-day break from work, which is mostly a walking holiday. The couple appears to be having marital problems, with lots of resentments brewing on both sides. On the third day they take a long hike off the beaten track, and get lost. There is a flock of birds swirling above a farmhouse that causes anxiety for the wife as she goes in search of help for her husband, who has injured his leg badly. This was one of the longer stories in the book at 45 pages. A lot of reviewers liked this story, but it was not my type of story. Too full of dread.

“The Last Dead Letter” 

This is the story that features Jackson Lamb and Molly Doran, the MI5 archivist, both from the Slow Horses series. Molly relates a story about a Berlin operative during the cold war who falls in love, and hopes that Jackson Lamb will tell her how it ends. I always welcome any additional stories about Slough House and its operatives, and this one gives another view of Jackson Lamb.

"The Usual Santas"

An unusual Christmas story. This is the story of a giant shopping mall that has hired a group of eight Santas that rotate assignments during the Christmas season. The eight Santas work at the mall in this position every year and at the end of each Christmas season there is a party. They go in their Santa costumes and never introduce themselves to each other. (A rather unusual and somewhat unbelievable premise.) This year a ninth Santa shows up and they cannot determine who is the fake Santa, which leads to some philosophical discussions. The story is cynical but also cheerful with an upbeat ending.

"What We Do"

This is the last Joe Silvermann / Zoë Boehm story in the book. This time the story is primarily about Zoë, who is in a 50-minute session with a therapist. She has to fill 50 minutes, so she tells him about a recent case. The story had a good twist, which I did not expect.

Reading the four stories in Dolphin Junction featuring Zoë Boehm and Joe Silvermann makes me want to return to the Oxford Investigations novels soon. I have read the first two books in that series, and the next two are on my TBR. That series focuses on Zoë Boehm and Sarah Tucker.

You can find another review of this book and a full list of the stories at George Kelley's blog.


Todd Mason said...

Definitely sounds as if it's a diverse, and generally fun, read...the one non-crime fiction item being the most tension-filled!

TracyK said...

That is a good description, Todd. I liked the first six stories more than the last five, but it may have been my mood at the time.

“All the Livelong Day” was a good story, well-written, but it had an unresolved ending which did not satisfy me.

Margot Kinberg said...

This collection appeals to me, Tracy. I like Herron's writing, and I like the Oxford stories. I think it's interesting, too, when an author explores 'regular' characters in that short story format. I think it gives a different perspective.

TracyK said...

Margot, I also usually enjoy it when an author uses characters from their series in short stories. And I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Herron's books.

TracyK said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Burlington Files.

pattinase (abbott) said...

What Margot said. I do like reading shorter sketches of characters I have met in a novel. I like the Longmire short stories for instance.

TracyK said...

I will have to look around for some Longmire short stories, Patti. I need to get back to Craig Johnson's series too.

George said...

I enjoyed this book, too. Here's what I thought of it: http://georgekelley.org/wednesdays-short-stories-122-dolphin-junction-by-mick-herron/

TracyK said...

George, I included a link to your post at the bottom of my post. Some very good stories there.

Cath said...

Mick Herron seems to be everywhere at the moment so I must pull my finger out and read something by him. This looks like a good collection but perhaps not the place to start?

TracyK said...

Cath, in my opinion, this is definitely not the place to start reading books by Mick Herron. Some of the blurbs for the book say that it is the perfect place to see if you like his writing, but I don't agree. The stories are good though.

If you were going to read either of his series, it is best to start with the first book. I like both series a lot, but I love spy fiction. The Zoë Boehm series is not spy fiction, she is a private detective. But it reads like spy fiction to me.

CLM said...

I have heard the TV series is good too. I read the first Mick Herron and felt it didn't live up to the hype but maybe it is one of those series that pick up after the first book? That is certainly how I reacted to Louise Penny and now I am addicted.

TracyK said...

Constance, We are currently watching the Slow Horses series with Gary Oldman. I am enjoying it a lot. The first season is based on the first book, and it seems to be very close to the actual book, although it has been nearly 10 years since I read it. We are two episodes into the second season.

I think I liked the first two books in the Slow Horses series but the third book, Real Tigers, was the first one that I gave 5 stars and I liked all the remaining books just as much.

I was the same way with the first Louise Penny book. I was not that impressed and did not read the second one until several years later. I am still not caught up with the series; I have only read 10 of them. But I have the rest of them, except for the newest one.