This is a great little book to keep close to hand (or eye) during the lead up to/Christmas holidays, and all profits from Afraid Of The Christmas Lights will go to support two front-line charities*

I was part of an advance readers group on the Pigeonhole Book Club that got early access to this anthology of short stories from some great crime writers, including Elle Croft, Mark Billingham, Phoebe Morgan, Val McDermid and Victoria Selman. Not a huge fan of short stories usually, I feel that by their nature they don’t really have enough time for plot or character development which can lead them to being quite predictable.

However recently, during the Covid-19 pandemic I have found it harder to concentrate while reading (disaster!) and these little stories actually really helped, both by being short enough to hold my concentration, and good enough to kindle my interest, all the while impressing me with the punch they each packed in a limited number of words. One or two, in particular ‘The Vigilante’ by Clare Empson left me feeling like I had read an entire book centred around the main character and a special appearance from Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne also managed to cheer up a grey November day.

Each of these little tales is very different in tone and style and one or two just didn’t hit home for me, but, as they were so short, it didn’t feel like I’d lost anything by spending the time to read them, as you might with a full novel – also, no pressure to add it to the dreaded ‘did not finish’ pile that all reviewers hate to consign a book to. The rest were various combinations of dark, scary, funny, chilling, sad, disturbing, sometimes predictable – sometimes not. All in all a really enjoyable mixed bag.

At just £1.99 on Kindle at the moment, if you’re a fan of crime stories you should really buy this book. And of course, the profits all go to the following charities, so even more reason to give it a try!

ESDAS: Educates professionals, communities, victims and even perpetrators on the nature of domestic abuse. They offer practical measures, such as legal advice and transport, to enable survivors to find a safe place to live.

Rights of Women: Helps women understand their legal rights and access a range of support services to which they are entitled.