Shades of Grey, by Michael Cargill

May 30, 2012 at 12:00 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Horror, Poorly Rated Books, Thriller, War and Politics) (, , )


Shades of Grey is a brief and distractingly violent collection of short stories, including one rather good but frustratingly truncated espionage story, a bland wartime correspondence and a rather ghastly horror story. It will be clear to any reader that Cargill is not an experienced writer, and as such although some of his premises and starting points hold a certain attraction, he simply is unable to keep them afloat, and they quickly begin to drag.

“There was no official state of war declared, and strictly speaking he wasn’t part of any official military or intelligence organisation. He worked for the Guv’nor.”

-Shades of Grey

The best of a beginner’s lot is the story the anthology is named for, the spy story. In it, Cargill experiments with a little stream-of-consciousness, some character development, and gratuitous violence. Speaking plainly, if something can be considered gratuitous (either in its violence, its sexuality, its language or any other content) then it is shocking for the sake of being shocking, and of no further use on that front. On the other hand, Cargill’s attempts to build his characters do not fall completely flat, and the chief criticism to be levelled here is that he is a little clumsy and heavy-handed in doing so.

A bold attempt prematurely published, and an interesting insight into the development of a young author, but it would be difficult to describe this book as entertaining, and harder still to describe it as especially meaningful. In its favour, it’s almost certainly better than the similarly-named series by E.L. James.


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