Cops, Crooks & Other Stories in 100 Words is a book of flash fiction by journalist Mark S. Bacon. As he explains in his introduction, his goal is to write stories with exactly one hundred words that have a beginning, middle and end.
While this is an interesting goal, it fails to produce an equally interesting book. The format is partly to blame- it is very difficult to write a story with a complete arc in one hundred words without the end sounding like a punchline. In fact, even some of the better stories in the collection come off a bit like e-mail forwards, albeit the funny ones that you might actually pass on to your friends.
However, some of the problem also lies in the writing itself. Most of the ‘plots’ are uninspired, which contributes to the jokey feel. The best two stories, “Thoughtful Neighbor” and “Never an Empty Seat at Maggie’s”, are the ones with the most unexpected (and macabre) themes. Some, like “Dumb Criminals”, suffer from poor proofreading or writing. The author also uses a very simple vocabulary, which reduces the chance of expressing complicated moods or ideas within such tight limits.
In short, Bacon’s approach to flash fiction just doesn’t work well. Insisting that every story have a resolution takes away from the mystery, impressionism, and speculation that are the strength of this form.
Author: Mark S. Bacon
Genre: Flash Fiction Anthology
Publication: Archer & Clark Publishing, March 29, 2012
Price: $0.99 (Kindle, Nook)
Author’s Website: http://baconsmysteries.com/