By the Water

A Collage of Short Murders

Fiction - Anthology
174 Pages
Reviewed on 08/30/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite

By the Water is a collection of stories by Kelly Artieri. Each short story sets up an ordinary situation and describes the events leading up to a murder. Some of the stories are interconnected, and they all show the circumstances that drive average people to lash out at others. The author ends the book by expressing her wish for the souls of those with murderous intentions.

From earth-shaking revelations to origins within the paranormal, many reasons for murder spark through the collection. The scenes are set across the climates and seasons, offering a range of interesting circumstances that are ripe with homicidal potential; however, there are times when the story gives nothing away until its surprising conclusion. The characters are believable, and Kelly Artieri pushes them to their limits as the thread of the plot unravels. Artieri’s writing style is almost conversational, lending a casual feel to her words. In an especially impressive move, the author has skillfully intertwined some of the stories, producing an ongoing narrative that packs a big punch!

By the Water proves that all murders aren’t carefully planned, and there are many circumstances that may push people to their breaking points. The author lives by Lake Ontario, so the reader can imagine the events the author may conceive as they play out on the page. By the Water would make a great gift for anyone who enjoys crime fiction, suspense, and the psychology behind murder as many of the stories leave the reader pondering about the ending long after they have read the last page.

Melanie Kennedy

By the Water: A Collage of Short Murders by Kelly Artieri is a crafty exploration of crimes of passion. Kelly has written nine gripping tales of everyday people caught up in life’s ups and downs and, unfortunately for some, this ends in murder. Kelly explores the shame behind killing a mistress, fleeing abusive husbands, and jealousy - the famous green-eyed monster. Her other tales embrace hope for a better life and courage in the face of bullies. Each story ties in with the theme of water, which is a force to be reckoned with on its own. She expertly shows that everyone is capable of hurting another, but luckily only a few people act on this. Sometimes murder takes place in an instant. One of life’s greatest mysteries is how a person can just snap at a moment’s notice.

I thoroughly enjoyed Kelly Artieri’s short stories. They are so well written and describe the motivations behind the murders perfectly. Kelly’s theme in By the Water demonstrates that people are like bodies of water – perfectly calm and still one moment, then turbulent and dangerous the next. While the topic might be a bit macabre for some, Kelly has a knack for bringing a story about a murder to life. My favorite was Fruit of My Labor. Seeing the underdog win was a wonderful change of pace and I was rooting for Rebecca the whole time. The trick to really good writing is if the reader can empathize with the characters and Kelly has mastered this talent. I loved Kelly’s writing and this collection is well worth a read.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

By the Water by Kelly Artieri is an anthology featuring nine short stories revolving around murder. Somewhere, a scared woman discovers a freshly buried corpse. A pet dog becomes the unexpected witness in a puzzling murder case. In ‘Palm Trees Make Me Happy,’ an obsessed husband stalks his wife relentlessly. In ‘Fruit of my Labor,’ a corrupt developer tries to acquire land by any means possible. A few stories feature a lone house near a haunted swamp. In another tale, a faraway island never lets the visitors return. In some cases, characters from one story appear in another, albeit with a different setting.

As I knew beforehand that the story I was reading would invariably feature a murder, there was a unique build-up of anticipation. I kept trying to predict the identity of the unfortunate victim and spent each moment dreading the silent arrival of death. Sometimes, Artieri made the predictions easier, making me watch helplessly as the characters neared their inevitable fate. At other times, the twists would take me by surprise. Whatever the case, there was a sense of foreboding lacing each tale. Artieri masterfully created a haunting miasma of fear and distrust that made the stories tug at my core, making me shiver. While a few stories explored the dark abyss of a twisted psyche, some made us empathize with the killer. Sometimes the murderers were deranged psychopaths, while sometimes, they were ordinary people driven by passion or self-preservation. My favorites were ‘White Out’ with its rapidly escalating tension, and ‘My Bonnie’ with its atmospheric nature. I recommend By the Water to anyone who loves a dose of spookiness.