Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: The Moving Finger Writes, By Carey Parrish

Carey Parrish is one of the sweetest, most affable writers you’ll ever meet. So when he suggested that I read/review his new anthology of short stories, I was expecting some lighthearted gay romance or some comedy stories. I was thoroughly shocked to find that Carey writes rather sinister stories in the vain of Stephen King. Who knew this bright sunny guy has such a dark side?

I seldom read anthologies, mostly because I’ve found that I typically only enjoy one or two of the usual six to twelve stories, but I have to slog through the mud to find the gems. So I agreed to review The Moving Finger Writes with trepidation. But what I found here is that I wholly enjoyed each story.

The first tale – The Woman Speaks – is fairly well written, good paced and even though it is was a tad predictable, it was delightful. It’s the story of Jason Connors, a young journalist on the verge of a career breakthrough story, and Violet Vaughn, an aging diva who has a deep, rather startling secret she has lived with most of her life. But is her secret too dark and too startling for Jason Connors? You be the judge.

I found the next story even more pleasing. The Piano involves Mark Booker, who bought a piano from a secondhand shop and got much more than he bargained for. Along with the piano, he inherited the spirit of a long-dead musician. But sometimes spirits can be like unwanted relatives, once they’re in you house, they won’t leave no matter what you do.

The Last Of Penny tells the complex tale of Steven Ballard and William Wilson, both affluent and successful lawyers with a Beverly Hills practice, and the one thing standing in their way of becoming a perfectly happy gay couple is Ballard’s wife, Penny. What lengths will these two men go to rid themselves of a tarnished Penny and find eternal happiness? The answer is marvelously shocking.

Arsenic and Old Cake is my favorite story of this book, both for its characters and suspenseful storyline. It’s a story of greed, crime, and turning the tables. What would you do if you discovered that the bright light of your life, your soul-mate, the person you most deeply love in the world, was suspected of murdering her previous husband, and also plotting to murder you?! This is a delicious little story that will keep you guessing throughout.

Killer Convent is a mystery involving the theft of a priceless painting from a convent, and the murdered guard who stumbled upon the crime scene. When two insurance investigators begin to scrutinize the case, they uncover some rather disturbing clues that all is not what it seems at the peaceful little convent. The results are unbelievable and wild, and very entertaining.

The Portrait is a story of jealousy and black magic. It’s a story a young man who wakes in what appears to be a deserted house, and he has complete amnesia. I found this tale the most disturbing because I once experience something similar, and I found myself reliving that appalling fear of not knowing where you are, or even who you are. The way Perrish handles the weaving together of information to overcome the amnesia is extremely well done.

And what dark anthology would be complete without a vampire story? Darkness and Light tells the interesting story of how the first vampire came to be, and trust me, it’s not at all what you think. It is a highly imaginative page turner.

The last story, The Christmas Present, was my least favorite. When a young man flies back to Chicago to visit his brother for the holidays, he befriends an old man, also going to Chicago to visit family. Only the old man’s family members are all dead. It is a tale of loneliness, of the importance of family, and the gift of reaching out to someone in need. It is a very moving story, and could have been my favorite had I been able to silence the editor in me.

As anyone can see, these stories are varied and imaginative. The characters are, for the most part, well developed and their situations interesting. These stories reminded me of a series of episodes from the Twilight Zone. Many were a tad predictable, and almost all the stories had some amount of head hopping (sudden switch of POV), but neither issue, however, was so blatant as to detract from my reading enjoyment. My only real criticism, which did detract from my reading enjoyment, is that all of the stories – some more than others – needs a competent editor with a flowing red pen to crawl through and tighten the prose. To be sure, Carey Parrish is not as seasoned a writer as one expects to find at the major publishing houses, so if your reading pleasure is incumbent on tightly crafted prose, then you may be disappointed. However, if you’re simply looking for some fun, fast paced, interesting and enjoyable stories to entertain you on a sunny afternoon, then I recommend The Moving Finger Writes.

The Moving Finger Writes is available at,,,, and it can also be purchased direct thru

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