"Wounds to Wishes: Tales of Mystery and Melancholy" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing
Written by Chad Lutzke, John Boden, and Robert Ford
2022, 162 pages, Fiction
Released on August 23rd, 2022
Wounds to Wishes: Tales of Mystery and Melancholy is the first book in Crystal Lake’s “Dark Tide Mysteries and Thrillers” series and boy does it set the bar for the subsequent entries.
The book contains three interconnected stories, each individually written by Chad Lutzke, John Boden, and Robert Ford. This was a brilliant decision, as this trio shares a similar voice, but the tales they tell are vastly different and work as standalones even if you notice familiar faces and places in their shared universe.
Chad Lutzke opens the book with his story, “The Strangest Twist Upon Her Lips”, an absolutely devasting tale about a man trying to recover from his fiancé’s suicide and mulling over the decision on whether to read the note she left behind. All while he’s started the bucket list the two had made.
There’s nothing incredibly spooky about this piece, but it definitely has a dark tone. Lutzke is a master at writing grief and pain, and this story is a prime example of his ability.
“My Only Sunshine” by Robert Ford comes next, and follows a woman, Caroline, struggling to overcome the grief of her daughter’s murder. After visiting a mysterious man at the suggestion of a friend, Caroline is granted five days to find out who killed her daughter and why. If you’ve read Ford’s work, you know he’s going to tug at your heartstrings while creeping you the hell out and he does this here too.
John Boden’s “Suet” is the last story and definitely the creepiest. After quitting his job at a nursing home due to the daily grief he must endure, Corbin turns his attention to finalizing the estate of his dead grandparents. He starts reading the ledger his grandfather kept and he soon finds out the truly dark secrets of his family. This was my first reading of Boden’s work (not counting Out Behind the Barn, which he co-wrote with Lutzke), and hot damn am I going to be reading more. A friend once told me Boden writes “…lyrically, like an old country music 8-track, back when it was good and haunted you long after you were done listening”. That is so accurate, and I’m mad I didn’t come up with that description myself.
I’m not going to pick a favorite from these because it’s impossible. While the three men have a similar style in writing, each story here delivers something different from the other. If I were to pick the creepiest, that winner would go to “Suet”. Not only is the entire piece just…dark, there’s a scene in its pages where I literally put my Kindle down for a second to take it in. Who knew farm animals could be so goddamn terrifying?
If I were going to recommend the one that will beat you down, it’s Lutzke. It will always be Lutzke. “The Strangest Twist Upon Her Lips” is so heavy with sorrow. Man, you feel for this former addict and the devasting loss of his loved one. Lutzke has not only seen some shit, but he can express grief so eloquently that it’s scary.
Robert Ford wins the round for tension. You want to filet anyone who hurts a child, and Caroline might have that chance, provided she can get the info out of her daughter in time. The anxiety I got each time Caroline didn’t get everything she needed was almost tangible. Ford does not mess around when it comes to this sort of thing (see Burner). He drags the reader along until the end, keeping you guessing if the killer will get their comeuppance.
Chad Lutzke, John Boden, and Robert Ford deliver something really special with Wounds to Wishes: Tales of Mystery and Melancholy. I loved it from beginning to end and catching the nods to the other stories in the book was a cool little bonus. I am ready to read a whole anthology of stories in this universe from these three.
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