The above illustration, "Blowing Bubbles," has been adapted for use here by generous permission from the artist, Cyril Rolando.

January 2, 2012

MONKEY JUSTICE by Patti Abbott

The holidays have at last provided a chance for me to catch up on some of the ebooks on my reader. Tops on my list is MONKEY JUSTICE, Patti Abbott's collection of short stories. Why? Because every story contains characters I can relate to, yet no two of her stories are remotely alike. A small paradox, but a pleasant one. And also because Abbott never treats the short story form as an easy route to getting her name in front of readers. Too often writers, even very good writers, are heavy handed with the short story, beating the characters, the plot -- if any -- and the reader into submission. Every short story should be unpredictable; yet every short story need not shock. A good short story may sometimes have to be coaxed as much as it is written. And this is where Abbott's strength lies. She doesn't write crime fiction per se; she writes character fiction. And this collections boasts some superlative examples:

 Like a Hawk Rising - When a gimpy housebreaker, Bernie, and his hard-as-nails wife, Marsha, witness the neighbor's kid being abused by his absentee father, what should they do about it? Call the law? Not a good idea because of Bernie's occupation. But Marsha isn't about to just turn a blind eye. And she has other scores that need to be settled as well. Can she hit upon a one-size-fits-all solution, and still keep Bernie and herself safe?

The Instrument of Their Desire - An elderly woman confronts her brother about the childhood abuse of their late sister, with surprising and sad results. A wrenching story and one of Abbott’s best, it initially appeared in the excellent 2010 anthology, BETWEEN THE DARK AND THE DAYLIGHT and 27 More of the Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg.

Monkey Justice - Recognition that one is being treated unfairly is the mark of higher intelligence. That isn’t the same thing as being civilized, as scientist Cheryl learns the hard way. Abbott has a deft touch with dysfunctional family dynamics, and nicely correlates the human dynamics with those of the monkeys Cheryl is studying. This is the kind of story that brings out the latent anger in a lot of women.

The Squatter - A cautionary tale about who you allow into your life, this chilling story could easily be the basis for a novel-length thriller. 

Raising the Dead - You really can lose sight of moral boundaries when you’re all wrapped up in your art. Just ask the woman who photographs the dead.

Those are my favorites but there are another 18 excellent stories in this collection, available in digital format from amazon. I'm looking forward to reading more from Patti Abbott in 2012.



  1. Patti is the bomb and so is this book.

  2. Thank you so much, Naomi. Your opinion is worth so much to me.

  3. 'The bomb'. That's a new one on me, but she is. And wanted to wish you a Happy New Year Naomi. Hugs from across the pond.