My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The last time I enjoyed a book of short stores as much as I did Strange Faces by Linda Hall, it was authored by Alice Munro.
Strange Faces has some similarities. Like the characters in Munro’s books, Hall’s are all ordinary people—housewives, mechanics, teachers. And like Munro’s tantalizing first lines, the beginnings of each story in Hall’s seven-story collection pulled me in so I wanted to read more.
“I’ve suspected for some time that I should go to the authorities about Lewis. Why haven’t I? Fear, I suppose. Even anonymous calls aren’t anonymous” – first lines of “Mad Scientist.”
“I’ve always been very protective of my sister. Even when she started killing people at her work” – first lines of “Weather Ladies.”
Such beginnings give us a taste of Hall’s cat-and-mouse game with the reader as we try to figure out: is this person reliable, wearing a white or black hat, is he/she even sane?
Most of these tales are dark. Through her characters Hall plumbs the depths of the human heart’s capacity for jealousy, fear, desire for revenge, rage at being deserted. Several stories speak about bullying. She asks ‘What if…?’ and then sees the matter through to its deadly conclusion. And so there’s murder and mayhem, but ever so genteelly disclosed.
Hall’s stories are full of homey but significant details and whiplash surprises—a very entertaining combination.