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Cold Sweats and Vignettes by John Bowen

Cold Sweats and Vignettes: A short collection of short stories - Science Fiction and Horror - John Bowen

This book contains 4 short stories: The Steal, Collide, Crash, and The Fall. All four are full of suspense and delicious tension. I am hard pressed to say which was my favorite in the collection as they were all worthy. Perhaps Collide orCrash simply because I gravitate towards science fiction. My only small quibble is that there appear to be no females in any of the stories, though it is possible they are hidden in the story Crash (genders are not spelled out).

The Steal – A thief is hired by a collector to acquire an occult artifact….

Mortcombe hires Mr. Lucas Smith to steal something for him. Mortcombe is dying and greatly desires this thing before he departs this world. World class security for a world class vault: a solid challenge for Lucas. There is a singular item that Mortcombe has coveted for the last 30 years. Lucas will get that item for him, for a price. This was an excellent short story! It’s a little dark and mysterious. Couple that with Lucas’s practicality when it comes to thievery, and we have a most entertaining tale. The story switches back and forth from Lucas’s conversation with Mortcombe in a seedy bar to Lucas sneaking past security, into the vault, and then perusing the vault’s contents. It worked really well as we get to hear through Lucas how he did some background checks on Mortcombe and the man Lucas has been hired to steal from. The ending was rather unexpected, a little spooky, and a fitting end. 5/5 stars

Collide – A world-changing incident at the Large Hadron Collider….

This story is captured in news reports starting immediately after the event and spanning 4 years. Immediately, there are many deaths due to the explosion. As more info comes in, folks are trying to figure out how to deal with temporal abnormalities. Past and future have collided. Not just people have been temporally transplanted, but also animals and inanimate objects. Scientists and journalists bring up some great questions – communicable diseases? definite knowledge of events past and present and thier affect on the present? This short piece brought up several good points to mull over concerning the larger impact of time travel. 5/5

Crash – A hard landing on an alien planet….

Kul, Hue, and Ben are crashing on an uncharted planet. This little tale is told through Ben’s eyes. It’s Ben’s first jump and it has all gone wrong. Poor dude. The crash landing doesn’t leave him and the crew whole and hardy. Pretty quickly they and their ship are discovered by the local alien life. This story had a lovely little twist at the end that had me chuckling out loud. 5/5

The Fall – A London gangster finds himself in a bad situation….

In a boiler room, Eddy Flynn is tied to a chair. A single bulb glares above. A man, in a highly tailored expensive silk suit, wants a chat with Eddy. Now Eddy is a big shark in his world of London gangs. He’s earned a reputation for his violence. Yet Eddy knows he’s in a bad situation here. His best bet is to buy time (his men are looking for him, surely?) and try to bluff his way out of this. The assortment of tools on a nearby table don’t portend good things for Eddy. He talks a good game but will it be enough? I was sucked into this story quickly and I really wanted to know why Eddy was tied to that chair and who put him there! I almost wanted Eddy to make it out of this if I could just have those answers. The suspense was great! 5/5

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the narrator (via a post on GoodReads Audiobooks group) in exchange for an honest review.

Narration:  Phil Mayes did a really good job with this book. His voice was excellent for the hardboiled male roles and for all the suspense. I especially liked his voice for Lucas Smith in The Steal and for Eddy Flynn in The Fall. He had some great London accents for The Fall. InCollide, he did these wonderful fade outs for the news reports that trailed off. All around, an excellent performance for this book.