Booklist Review

Issue: October 15, 2014

Spouses & Other Crimes

Coburn, Andrew (Author)

Oct 2014. 156 p. Stark House, paperback, $15.95. (9781933586694).

Coburn, born in 1932 and still active as a writer, is another of the underrated authors Stark House has made a mission to resurrect. This collection of 11 short stories is wonderful. Published mostly in the mid to late twentieth century, these are gritty tales of murder, marital disharmony, and sometimes both. A man chances upon a fellow who had killed his own wife; now the man’s wife is getting cozy with the killer. A woman’s adult son re-creates, with his own wife, the relationship she had with her husband. A woman juggles a money-grubbing husband and an artistic lover. And so on. You’d think the stories might start to sound a little repetitive, what with the same sort of theme cropping up again and again, but not so: every story is like a breath of fresh air, a tightly written little masterpiece of character design and plotting. The author has a smallish but loyal fan base (he’s written more than a dozen novels as well as other short fiction), and with any luck this little jewel of a book will bring him plenty of new readers.

— David Pitt

Praise for Spouses & Other Crimes

“Compulsively readable…so good it’s almost criminal.”

—Publishers Weekly

“With Spouses & Other Crimes, Andrew Coburn proves my long held belief that whether he’s writing crime fiction or literary fiction, he is a major American writer, a stylist and social observer of the first rank.”

—Ed Gorman, the “Sam McCain” series

“A wonderful collection, gritty and sublime. Andrew Coburn’s sure touch captures all that it means to be fully engaged in life. In his characters’ pitch-perfect voices, you hear intensity, pleasure and raw emotion.

—Mary McGarry Morris, Songs in Ordinary Time; Light from a Distant Star

“Blunt, quirky, knowing, always unsettling, Coburn’s stories are as authentic as fiction gets. Places well known and long gone, losses sudden and slow, the inexplicable actions of everyday people struggling in a nonsensical world stay with you each time you put the book down until you pick it up again, which you assuredly will do.”

—R. C. Binstock, Tree of Heaven, The Soldier and, most recently, Swift River

“These stories are mordantly funny, scathing and wise. The women characters, particularly, have an unblinkered view of their lives that is refreshingly unsentimental and adult. No happy endings here, just perfect ones.”

—Michael Nava, The City of Palaces