I’m a huge fan of Mark Tilbury’s writing and he doesn’t feature here on Linda’s Book Bag nearly often enough. Today I’m delighted to share my review of Mark’s latest release Poetic Justice.
My review of Mark’s You Belong To Me is here.
Published on 18th November 2021, Poetic Justice is available for purchase here.
Five twisted tales of murder and revenge.
Time doesn’t heal; it’s an incubator for old wounds.
Lucy’s return – No one remembers Lucy at the school reunion, but she remembers them. Especially one boy who made her life hell, and now she’s going to do the same to him.
The Tallyman– Donna is in debt, and the loan shark is making her life unbearable, with increasingly vile demands when she can’t make her payments. But her elderly neighbour, Elsie, has the perfect solution to get rid of the tallyman once and for all.
Last Orders – Jeff Tully’s wife has left him. Trying to run his pub single-handedly, he increasingly turns to his barmaid, Alyson, for help. But when Alyson tells him of her own troubles, they hatch a plan to get rid of Alyson’s violent, abusive husband. But will Jeff live to regret he ever got involved with his barmaid?
Ballad of the Unsung Hero – Retired shopkeeper Jennifer Price is at her wits end. Her husband Kenneth thinks more of his fishing than he does of her. But when she meets the man of her dreams at a spiritual church, Jennifer is hell-bent on getting her man – whatever it takes.
Private Museum – Retired nurse Mandy Rostron never thought she’d find love again after her husband died, but in Anthony Mallard she’s found the perfect gentleman. Or so she thinks. Mallard has some very dark secrets in his basement, or his Private Museum as he calls it, and Mandy is about to discover the truth about the man of her dreams.
My Review of Poetic Justice
A collection of short stories and poems.
Poetic Justice has all the trademark Mark Tilbury elements of grittiness, aggression, violence, humanity and a touch of the supernatural that I was expecting, but I hadn’t reckoned on the poetry that precedes each of the five stories. The poetry is intense, carefully crafted and works so well between stories, both as an indication of what’s to come and as a kind of palette cleanser, so that moving on to the next story feels as if there is a fresh discovery to be made.
The stories themselves are smashing examples of Poetic Justice so that the anthology could not have been better named. There’s a wickedly dry humour within the collection and all the twists and turns of a Mark Tilbury narrative are present. I think any one of these stories could become a full length novel and they feel like a distillation of skilful plotting and great storytelling. They would translate into a cracking television series of standalone drama too.
I loved the variety in the writing, with the italics for thoughts and internalised feelings so that the reader gets a totally clear understanding of what is going on the minds of the people created here. There’s real variety with both first and third person narratives so that although there are only five stories in Poetic Justice, there’s a kind of richness to the reading experience. I particularly enjoyed the conversational tone of Lucy’s story as it created an intimacy, making the reader almost complicit in Lucy’s actions and the ending of this one made it my favourite story but you’ll need to read the anthology to see if you agree! I found it unusual to have chapters in short stories and this added to the sense of pace and drama in Poetic Justice.
Mark Tilbury knows how to present the dark, simmering underbelly of humanity with absolute authority, but what I found most thought-provoking, however, was the author’s exploration of themes from a female perspective. At the risk of sounding sexist, I hadn’t expected a male author to provide such an insight into how marriage, revenge, passion, love, bullying and, indeed, sexism, affect women.
Poetic Justice is a collection that packs a punch. It’s quite difficult to define in many ways with crime and psychological drama as obvious genres, but the anthology seems to contain more than that too. Poetic Justice feels somehow greater than the sum of its parts. I really enjoyed it but beware. If you live near a place called Benzington you might want to think about moving!
About Mark Tilbury
Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.
After being widowed and raising his two daughters, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.
He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and having had seven books published by an indie publisher, has decided to return to self publishing. After successfully publishing The Last One To See Her, A Prayer For The Broken followed in October 2020.
When he’s not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.
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