British author Glenn McGoldrick writes stories. Period. That’s the fiction form he uses, and, so far, he’s stuck to it.
McGoldrick once worked for a cruise line, so it’s no surprise that one series of his stories is about cruise ship operations. Another series is his Dark Teesside stories, set in towns in northeastern England near the River Tees (the city of Newcastle is close by).
What all of McGoldrick’s stories have in common is crime. Here are three of the Dark Teesside stories.
In Red Marks, an unemployed man named Michael Atkins boards a bus and discovers a forgotten purse. He pockets the cash in the purse, and then gradually tracks the purse’s owner. And then he watches, biding his time. What we learn along the way is that Atkins almost strangled his former girlfriend. It’s a chilling story, as if we’re watching the birth of a serial killer.
Breaking Spirits is a story of double revenge. A young man follows a man from a pub one night, and coldly murders him. The victim is an enemy of the young man’s father, who’s previously served prison time. The young man’s mother committed suicide, and his father had a lot to do with it. Guess who’s going to get framed for murder?
In Dead Flies, a man’s adult son has been missing for three years, and it’s now officially a cold case file. The man is still buying a cake to celebrate his son’s birthday, and he replays the last days he and his wife spent his son. It’s a story about people desperate for answers and none are forthcoming.
Not Eligible for Rehire is one of McGoldrick’s cruise ship stories. A woman and her husband work for a cruise ship; they’re getting a divorce but still sharing a cabin. The woman comes to Human Resources and says her husband has been smoking marijuana. The cabin is searched, marijuana found. The man is tested but no trace of the drug is found. An investigation follows; he’s eventually dismissed, not because he was guilty as much as the need for the company to do something. HR is convinced that the lied, but what can it do about her? The story may be about a cruise line, but it fits a significant part of corporate thinking.
McGoldrick’s stories are dark tales, indeed, bringing us into the dark places of the human heart.