Author: Matt Drabble
Publisher: Eden Publications
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Martin Parcell, an out-of-work journalist on account of an accident-induced disability, takes up a job as a janitor in a private mental care hospital. It is the only job to be found in bleak times. Blackwater Heights is a Gothic building on the outskirts of the city. The building is surprisingly modern and utilitarian on the inside.
James, the older janitor, who shows him around on his first day of work, tells him the dramatic story of Horace Whisker, the original owner of Blackwater Heights. Martin is consumed by his imagination.
Sensing that Martin is an aspiring novelist, James offers to tell him the bizarre but true histories of the thirteen inmates at the asylum, on condition that he write and publish a book on the stories and share the proceeds with him. Unwilling to live his entire life as a janitor, Martin sees this as his ticket to a better life and agrees. But he soon realizes that he is getting much more than be bargained for.
Each of the inmates has his/her own unique story. Some are criminals, some have just found themselves at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
The stories are all well written, each evoking the right amount of atmosphere, enabling a movie to play out in our imaginations. Most of the plot lines are interesting.
In Picking Up Strangers, where a guy who lives his life according to schedules, and finds his life rudely disrupted when he stops his car to pick up a woman in distress.
In The Voice, a guy is plagued by a devilish voice inside his head.
In Two Blind Mice, a doctor preys on the visually impaired.
Is Anybody Out There? sees a woman making good money by pretending to be able to talk to the dead.
In Lonely Hearts, a grieving detective inspector, who has allowed himself to sink into grief-induced alcohol addiction after the death of his wife, gets a chance to redeem himself by solving a cold case.
No Strings Attached sees a young friendless land make one friend who is not quite what he appears to be.
Stormy Seas includes a ghostly visitation,
Method Acting introduces us to an arrogant rom-com star who attempts to earn respect for his craft by acting in a serious film.
In The Devil’s Music, a teenage boy gets more than he bargained for when he tries to invoke the devil.
Primetime Special sees a TV star, past his prime, attempting to boost his career by shooting an episode in a haunted house where he has already rigged some special effects.
In Yellow Streak, a soldier’s cowardice prevents him from attempting to save his fellow soldiers, when he has the chance to.
In Dish of the Day, a food critic who has destroyed the dreams of numerous small restaurant owners, is consumed by desire for a particular food that he can never have.
Night Class saw a group of adult students on the first day of class being systematically killed in a slash fest. This was the only story that I didn’t enjoy reading.
Each story ends with an unexpected development and in spite of himself, Martin finds himself intrigued by the inmates.
The only story that wasn’t a surprise was what happened to Martin himself.
But don't let that stop you from reading the stories. If you enjoy getting your imagination in a twist, this one's for you.