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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Approaching Footsteps is an anthology of suspense novellas written by Patricia Flaherty Pagan, Rita Banerjee, Donna Hill, Jennifer Leeper and Megan Steusloff. In The Reiger File, by Jennifer Leeper, Tom Reiger, a small-town young man with dreams of becoming a private investigator, takes his leave of the public library where he’s worked since high school and sets off for the big city. In A Night With Kali by Rita Bannerjee, the narrator and his taxi driver, Tamal-da, sit out a rainstorm after the cab is swamped by flooded waters and refuses to start. Tamal-da is a fluent source of tales, especially about his house, which just happens to be haunted. Megan Steusloff’s novella, Brave Enough to Follow, takes the reader to a plantation where Sadie Thompson, an only child of the owner, finds her real family in the slave cabins on the estate. A macabre gem, 136 Auburn Lane is about a reformed alcoholic during the Great Depression, who is given a job and lodging in a most peculiar building. There are also a number of flash fiction stories found in an appendix titled Special Reader’s Bonus.
The novellas selected for this anthology are all stories rich in suspense. As Patricia Flaherty Pagan notes in her Foreword, “Suspense can be seen as the slow-burning sister of the thriller, or the intense and eccentric cousin of the mystery. Suspense fiction builds fascination and anxiety in the reader.” I found her description to aptly fit each of the stories presented. As a hard-core detective fiction fan, I especially enjoyed the opening story, The Reiger File. I loved the sense that something was amiss from the very first paragraph as the idealistic and naive young man travels to the big city, and felt an urge to warn him off throughout the tale. Brave Enough to Follow is a moving and sad look at America’s shameful past, and 135 Auburn Lane is delightfully grotesque and reminiscent of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. A Night With Kali has an exotic appeal and attraction that had me as a Westerner wanting to know and experience more. Approaching Footsteps has something for anyone who likes their literature to walk a bit on the dark side. It’s most highly recommended.