A Twist of Malice
Jean Rae Baxter
A Twist of Malice brings together fourteen short stories, told with economy and clarity. Their settings, protagonists and plots cover a wide range; yet the common element of irony unites them. In Jean Rae Baxter’s dark vision, nothing is as it seems or as it should be. Her characters lose their dreams, or they dream too much. Obsession overwhelms a love-struck youth. A university student copes with the aftermath of a rape she cannot remember. Two eleven-year-olds kidnap a cat. A cast-off wife exacts cruel, calculated revenge. A bored housewife is trapped by a love letter falling into the wrong hands. An old woman imagines a beautiful life for the child she aborted seventy years in the past. In each story the central figure reacts uniquely when expectations are thwarted. The outcome may be absurd or tragic or darkly comic, but seldom what the character, and by extension the reader expects.
Six of the stories in this collection have been published in Canadian literary journals or anthologies. Five have been shortlisted for awards, and three are award winners.
“Jean Rae Baxter burrows deeply inside her characters’ twisted minds, giving the reader unsettling views from the vantage point of evil. Her plots are deftly constructed, her writing smooth and her resolutions dark and heartbreaking. Perhaps most compelling of all, her stories involve people like us – who act in ways we never would. Or so we hope.”
~ Peter Sellers, editor and mystery writer
“Baxter understands what all great short-story writers understand: that simplicity of style and characters drawn from real life will hold readers from the first story to the last. You’ve met all these people before, likely in your own hometown, but never with such secrets exposed. What an exciting debut collection!”
~ Chris Pannell, poet and editor
“With a deft literary hand, Jean Rae Baxter draws the reader down into the chilliest recesses of the human soul. Where dreams are betrayed and hope eclipsed. Powerful tales, beautifully told.”
~ Barbara Fradkin, author of the Inspector Green series