Short story collections have become relatively rare these days—almost the only ones that make them are the already famous ones—Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, George Martin. But sometimes you encounter a writer so gutsy that he throws all caution to the wind and goes ahead with what he does best. One such writer is Jim Liston, whose book, ‘Invasion of Privacy and Other Short Stories’ consists of strange, dark, compellingly intriguing stories you will want to consume in one sitting.
The title story, of course, is a dark, but ultimately satisfying tale called “Invasion of Privacy.” Jim Gotweb, a computer programmer who runs a small computer shop, is on the war path: his wife was stabbed to death during a robbery, and the only clue he’s got is the distinctive spider tattoo on the killer’s face. But that doesn’t stop him from going over the top to find his wife’s killer—a computer coder, he creates a program that allows him to track a growing network of webcams throughout the city in the hopes of finding his target and exacting revenge. As it turns out, what he wants is not so simple, and soon, he meets other characters who join him on his “mission:” Roger, a teenaged geek, and the bombshell named Melanie, who seems like Irene Adler to Jim’s Sherlock.
The other stories in the collection are a heady mix of the macabre, the absurd, the horrific—they somehow remind you of the 1960s-era ‘The Twilight Zone’ or the more bizarre episodes of the Ray Bradbury Theater’. Some of the stories serve like “breathers”—clever, thoughtful intermissions to the more intense stories. But I admit, I love the title story ‘Invasion of Privacy’ the most—it drips with a sense of adventure, and the suspenseful cliffhangers are chilling enough to leave you panting for more. Melanie—with her sex appeal and the fact that she’s also smart and sassy—is a great complement to the Jim and Roger geek duo. And because they can remotely watch a seemingly unlimited number of households through their webcams, the possibility for many more sequels is endless—I’m thinking a TV series based on this story would be great.
Overall, I love the book. But I would love it more if it were longer, or if it were a full novel. I’m hoping Liston writes more, and soon. Highly recommended!
(review of free book)