September 6, 2012

Rabid Reads: "Missing Pieces" by Scott Nicholson

Missing Pieces

I have a few of Scott Nicholson's short story collections on my to-be-read pile, so when I wanted to read one as part of this Summer of Shorts Marathon I had the task of trying to choose just one. His collections tend to follow a particular genre like thrillers, zombies, crime, etc. So when I saw this one, which happens to be a more hodge-podge collection, I decided to give it a shot.

Missing Pieces brings together ten stories of varying genres, but all of them carry the familiar style of Scott Nicholson, steeped with southern sensibility. The story that maybe best exemplifies the southern flavor of horror is the first one, "Beaulahville Gospel Jubilee." I mean, the story starts with the words, "Tater salad," and has a devilish man mingling among the potluck crowd in search of souls.

"Apple Head Dolly" was an effective story for me, reminding me of that impish greed inherent in so many little boys. This one was followed by two of the creepiest tales in the collection, "Fallow" and "The Rocking Chair."

One of the stories is actually the first chapter to his novel, As I Die Lying, which might be a good way to market your longer works, but I've never been a fan of that sort of thing unless it's some kind of bonus material.

If I had to pick a favorite story, it might be "Darker With the Day," which is a unique twist on the zombie genre, about a soldier who has been infected and is trying to get home to his wife in a world laid to waste. What made this story stand out was not simply the subject matter, but the twist of how the soldier maintains his identity and how Scott presents the story with a first-person narrative that dips and dives with the man's withering consciousness.

Missing Pieces offers a solid idea of what to expect from Scott Nicholson's storytelling, with a varied enough batch of stories to impress fans of dark fiction. Some readers may prefer collections more tightly focused, but this collection provides a nice sampling to the uninitiated and just might convince them to take a chance on his other books.

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