This short story collection was excellent! The ten stories were all atmospheric and wonderfully creepy. I first became aware of the author as the writer of the excellent Wolverine podcasts, but am now glad I looked up other work by him and will now search out other novels by him.
The Cold Boy- The visiting nephew of a taxidermist falls through the ice in his backyard pond and comes out changed. It had a Pet Semetary vibe.
Suspect Zero-A woman con artist is underestimated, much to the dismay of those who interact with her. The train intro was intriguing.
The Dummy- A female high school student who wrestles is attacked by a fellow teammate but the stuffed dummy she had been practicing on, seems to save her.
Heart of a Bear- This was a strange tale that was never going to end well for the family involved. A bear is entranced by a family and becomes human-like for a time, without the townspeople noticing.
Dial Tone- Don’t underestimate the quiet man working alongside you. His mild manner could be covering a black heart.
The Mud Man- A busy man accidentally creates a doppelganger out of mud, but this mud man starts to become more engaged with his family life than he was. Another tale of people accepting a strange creature in their midst without raising the alarm.
Writs of Possession- More a sad slice-of-life story about evictions than a horror story. A deputy steels herself for the sorrow she has to witness as she evicts people from their homes.
The Balloon- A pandemic story that was written before our current crisis so it feels strangely prophetic.
Suicide Woods- My least favorite story, yet the book’s namesake. Suicidal individuals have joined a support group that has a radical way to make them appreciate life again.
The Unchartered- This last story is more a novella, and could have been fleshed out into a full novel. A woman working for a mapping company hires a trio of adventurers to chart some islands off the coast of Alaska where some previous workers have gone missing. On a whim, she joins them, but their small plane crashes and the survivors are sucked into a mind-bending and horrific experience.
These stories all have a sinister edge to them and I enjoyed all of the dark tales.