Puzzling crime tales, start to finish, in 100 words
Introducing a new edition of Cops, Crooks & Other Stories in 100 Words. This revised edition includes new stories, updated/revised versions of the book’s original stories and stories from the book Mysteries and Murder, previously published by the, sadly, now defunct Ether Books of London.
Can you imagine a mystery being created and solved in 100 words? That’s the purpose of this book. Mystery novels have surprise endings; so can flash fiction.
That’s the new name for extremely short, tiny, miniscule bits of creative writing. While the title for the genre is relatively new, ultra-short stories are not. You probably grew up listening to flash fiction. Aesop’s fables are flash fiction. Androcles (and the Lion) contains only 265 words, and The Ant and the Grasshopper uses only 150 words. Ernest Hemingway reputedly wrote a six-word story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Eight of the stories in this revised edition of Cops, Crooks & Other Stories were first published in literary magazines including Stymie Magazine, Flashshot, 100 Word Story, MicroHorror and 101 Words,
Most stories are complete with a protagonist, a challenge and a resolution. Two con men create an ingenious parking lot scam—and get away with it. A detective sergeant outwits his inspector and solves a murder.
The stories are complete mini puzzles with unexpected, satisfying endings. Here’s a sample:
On the House
Starting her workday baking before sunrise always made Sophie’s concentration sag by 9 a.m., but looking across the counter at a gun barrel got her immediate attention.
“Gimme the money,” the gunman said.
Sophie glanced over the man’s shoulder, moved toward the cash register—then ducked.
The cop standing behind the robber threw him against the counter, as another officer grabbed the gun.
“You gotta be the dumbest crook I ever met,” said the first cop. “Okay, maybe you didn’t see our car in the lot, but really…”
“Thanks, Kelly,” Sophie said. “From now on, doughnuts are on the house.”
“The best thing is you get the entire story with a great plot and climax in 100 words. Then he does it over and over again with the next story.
“Bacon’s stories are filled with fun, surprise and plenty of wit. So much so that I found myself laughing several times and having to give the book to my husband to read because he wanted to know what was so funny. The one thing I truly loved was that Bacon ends most of his stories with a twist, which only increased my anticipation of the next story. “
“One of the most effective ways to make a story better is to make it shorter. When editing, writers always save their best sentences and toss out their worst.
“In this collection about Cops, Crooks & Others, Mark Bacon has taken that process to a delightful extreme. With professional polish, he takes a story and trims the fat until there is nothing left but the hook, the rising plot curve, and the climax, all in 100 words. Then he does it over and over again. I knew that as a journalist Bacon would have the chops to pull off such an achievement, but even with that high bar of expectation, I was impressed.
“I very much recommend Cops, Crooks & Other Stories In 100 Words. And I predict that, like me, you will find yourself reading these stories to others nearby.”
Best-selling author, Owen McKenna Tahoe mystery novel series
I have to give Mark a thumbs up! Writing is hard no matter what you write, but try writing a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end in only 100 words and he did it! Now that’s tight writing.
Each story was unique and different. Some made me smile, while others made me chuckle. And then there were the ones that had a twist and a surprise ending.
If you only have a few minutes of time to read, pick up the e-book. I guarantee you won’t want to put it down.
“Mark Bacon’s ‘Just An Accident,’ uses exposition, creates two characters and covers a large expanse of time. This is one of my favorites on the [literary magazine 100 Word Story] site because of how Bacon uses the limit of 100 words, utilizing the idea of the unsaid, enabling the reader to fill in the gaps that would surely eat up his word count. Stories such as these that cover a wide scope of time in only a few sentences or that play with distillation and omission become fascinating studies in flash fiction.
“Of course, writers like Bacon have experience with this form.”
The Review Review (magazine)
“These stories often have a twist at the end similar to that where you should have seen it coming. Some I had to read twice just to make sure I understood the twist or to look back and see how I missed the obvious ending. It could be one word that gives it all away, or a final sentence that delivers the punch.
“Most of these are cleverly thought out but a couple were groaners at the end. Mark Bacon obviously is a seasoned writer and with only 100 words to tell the story, these are edited with precision. For a taste of this genre, and for something light and quick, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this quirky collection of stories.”
Many authors crack under such a tight word constraint but Bacon really seems to thrive. As expected, some of the stories are more predictable than others. But I found that they never failed to make me smile and sometimes even take a moment to reflect.
“…there are some good stories here. One of my favourites was the opening one involving two men breaking into the same house. Another was a husband visiting a hit man and requesting his wife be murdered only for the hit man to say he is unable to do so! There are some surprises such as a conversation which seems to be between a vet and a pet owner but takes an unusual turn. You have to applaud Bacon for the multitude of ideas but also for sticking to the 100 word rule.
“Cops, Crooks and Other Stories in 100 Words is a good collection and ideal for busy readers who want to dip into a book for a really quick read.”
David M. Brown
David M. Brown’s Blog
“…it is rather remarkable that the author is able to introduce a cast of characters, set a stage for them to act upon, and play out a scenario — sometimes involving cops and crooks — in which something unexpected happens, all in exactly 100 words.”