Crime author Julia Madeleine is all about needles. She works as a tattoo artist in Canada, penned a short story collection titled Stick a Needle in My Eye and has a sharp sense of wit about her that could be described as "needle-y." At least, that's what I take away from the social media encounters I've had with her. For all I know, her sense of humor is punchlined with an ax.

I should be careful then. Stick a Needle in My Eye is full of murder, mayhem and quick stabs of dark humor. She packs 17 short, short crime stories into the anthology.

It'd be tough to review each individually, so I'll opt for the bird's eye view. This anthology is like a tattoo gun, with each story dropping its own bit of ink into a larger picture. Stand back, and it's a work of art.

Really, a work of art. Underneath the stories of jaded lovers, poisoned pineapple juice and cremated secrets is an artist at work. Madeleine's stories get right to the point in a matter of a few paragraphs, crescendo a few hundred words later and come to a graceful landing. This dance isn't as simple as it appears. Shorter works are often the most difficult to master.

That's why I was plowed over with each story. They were pitch perfect the whole way through. It's one thing for a piece of writing to give you new respect for its author. But it's another to come away with a better appreciation of the craft. I got both out of Stick a Needle in My Eye. I'll turn to it for inspiration with my own writing.

Click here to get Stick a Needle in My Eye exclusively from Amazon for the Kindle.

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