Short Reviews: Su Halfwerk’s Intricate Entanglement / Simon Haynes’ Hal Spacejock

Intricate Entanglement by Su Halfwerk

An abused maid who sought revenge on her employer and got much more than she bargained for. A doctor who discovered his appetite for flesh was more than a metaphor. A woman who found being a certain artist’s model drained her of life. These are just three of the patients being kept in a remote psychiatric institution where reporter Doug Pinkham has gone to investigate a murder. During the course of his investigation, he will hear their stories and others, and will find there is more going on at the institution than meets the eye… and possibly more than he can escape.

Intricate Entanglement is a collection of seven short stories linked by the story of Pinkham’s investigation. The stories are creepy and effective, and the framing story is also developed in depth, avoiding the trap of just being a device to present the stories. Su Halfwerk has a marked talent for creating an unsettling atmosphere and tales that become more sinister as they progress. If you like creepy tales and a sense of growing dread, this collection is well worth checking out.

Hal Spacejock by Simon Haynes

Hal Spacejock is a down-on-his-luck starship pilot given a last chance to make enough money to pay off his creditors and keep his head attached to his shoulders. All he has to do is transport some cargo to another world (avoiding pesky things like customs agents). Which should be simple… but between dealing with cargo thieves, rogue robots, a snarky ship’s computer, and his own less-than-stellar level of piloting competence, things get pretty complicated… and funny.

Simon Haynes’ style is fast, breezy, and funny, and at its best when the characters are talking to, and often past, one another. True, there are bits that go on for too long, or seem like one convolution too far, but how much plausibility do you really want in a sci-fi space opera comedy? I enjoyed much about this book, and am looking forward to the sequels.

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

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