The Elephant Bowl: A Collection of August Miller Short Stories, by Charles Prandy

Eight stars

After recently reading Charles Prandy’s first novel in his new August Miller series, I was eager to see more of his writing. I was pleased to see that he had written a collection of short stories about the homicide detective, all of which preceded A Cold Day for August. Anyone who loves a collection of short crime thrillers will surely be interested in this piece, after which I would highly recommend locating a copy of the first full-length novel in the series.

The Elephant Bowl

Homicide Detective August Miller was new to the job when she met Shelton Sewell. In fact, he would likely be one of the criminals she’d never forget. Twelve years later, Miller was finally able to close the book on Sewell and his murder of Payton Wells.

While on her way home from a night shift, Miller stops in at a yard sale and finds a small elephant bowl, one popular among children. It is only later that she remembers its significance in the Sewell case and things take a definite twist when Detective Miller returns to ask some questions of the elderly couple who sold her the trinket.

The Endearment Diary

When the Clarks decide to put a pool in their backyard, they are shocked to discover that the body of a teenage girl found buried beneath the soil. Detective August Miller arrives to follow up, learning that the victim is Mia Matthews. Miller takes some time to piece things together, soon discovering that Mia kept a secret diary, filled with admissions she could not even share with her own mother.

After taking a moment to read through the entries of this document, called an Endearment Diary by Mia, Detective Miller discovers that the teenage girl had a strong obsession with an older man. Could this have been the son of the homeowners where she was found, a man with a long and sordid criminal past? Detective Miller will have to work quickly before any of her leads dry up.

Between the Trees

A number of girls have gone missing and Detective August Miller is in charge of the case. When she receives a call that a man has checked into a hotel with an underage girl who appeared panicked, Miller makes her way there as quickly as she can. When she arrives, Carter Wyatt admits that he has been kidnapping and killing the girls, but says that there’s one that no one has yet discovered. However, Wyatt wants something before he will offer much of anything.

Detective Miller uses a clue from Wyatt to try locating a young woman, though it will not be easy. As Miller refuses to admit that she knows someone who was the victim of a crime, Wyatt remains coy about what he knows, promising that if Miller answers his simple question, he’ll tell all. It’s a rush to locate the missing woman, while August Miller tries to hold her composure about a secret from her past that she wants no one to discover.

This was a great collection of stories that shows some of the great ideas that Charles Prandy has for his new series. While I read A Cold Day for August before this collection, they complemented one another really well. Each story highlights some of Miller’s unique qualities as well as the grit she brings to the job. While the first two stories were quick paced, they seemed to fit together a little too easily. The final piece, a little darker and more panicky, is the ideal piece to read right before the first novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed all three pieces, which offered quick narratives and great characters. The attentive side of me noticed that the first two stories were likely meant to be much later than the last, based on Miller’s age. However, the revelations from these stories mesh so well with the first full-length novel. I hope many will take the time (under two hours) to devour these stories and then rush out to get the novel, as it will make for a wonderful and thrilling ride. I cannot say enough about Charles Prandy and his newer work. I will have to get my hands on his earlier series, which I can only hope is just as riveting.

Kudos, Mr. Prandy, for a great collection. I am eager to spread the word to others and hope to hear what they think as well.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: