‘Dead Simple’ edited by Harry Bingham (2017)

DEAD SIMPLE edited by Harry Bingham
Orion Books | 2017 | paperback | 113 pages

Dead Simple is a thrilling collection of short stories from some of the best crime writers around. The stories include the perfect murder and an unusual way to solve crimes. From prison cells to cosy living rooms, these dark, chilling tales will grip you with every twist and turn.

This collection includes specially written short crime fiction from Mark Billingham, Clare Mackintosh, James Oswald, Jane Casey, Angela Marsons, Harry Bingham, Antonia Hodgson, and C. L. Taylor.

* ‘Hardscrabble’ by Mark Billingham (2017)
* ‘The Funeral’ by Clare Mackintosh (2017)
* ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ by James Oswald (2017)
* ‘Old Tricks’ by Jane Casey (2017)
* ‘Tell No Lies’ by Angela Marsons (2017)
* ‘The Perfect Murder’ by Harry Bingham (2017)
* ‘The Night Before the Hanging’ by Antonia Hodgson (2017)
* ‘Bird in a Cage’ by C. L. Taylor (2017)

This anthology was released as part of the Quick Reads initiative, something of which I am thoroughly in support. It’s a series of short books aimed at adults who don’t read often, or who find reading a chore, to discover the joy of reading books for pleasure.

How can you not love a mission like that?

While I might not be the target demographic, a good story is a good story, or – as it might be – eight good stories are eight good stories.

Because that’s what we have here: eight stories from British crime writers. None of them is any less than good, and about half of them are better than that. We get a good mix of the gritty (Billingham’s ‘Hardscrabble’ and Marsons’s ‘Tell No Lies’ both end in a particularly grim manner), the darkly humorous (Casey’s ‘Old Tricks’ is a case in point), and even a touch of the paranormal (‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ by James Oswald plays this trope very well).

Clare Mackintosh’s ‘The Funeral’ has a nice Robert Bloch vibe to it, albeit without Bloch’s trademark humour. Bingham does double-duty as both editor and author, with ‘The Perfect Murder’ which is a delightfully light-hearted look at mental disintegration. Taylor’s ‘Bird in a Cage’ is a psychological piece with a well-crafted reveal of what brought the protagonist to their ruin.

My favourite short is Antonia Hodgson’s ‘The Night Before the Hanging’, the only historical piece in the anthology. It’s a fine story of revenge, with an added twist of the knife, and a main character that is an utter bastard. A great tale, and an author I want to try more of.

All in all, this is well worth the couple of hours it will take you to read through it.

2 thoughts on “‘Dead Simple’ edited by Harry Bingham (2017)

    1. KevinGBufton Post author

      Hi Eric – glad you like it.

      ‘The Night Before the Hanging’ is set in 1720s London. Not sure of the exact year, but its a prequel to Hodgson’s ‘The Devil in the Marshalsea’, and that’s set in 1727, if I remember rightly.


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