Author: Ben H. Winters
What could be more perfect after a year of quarantine than some timely stories from one of my favorite authors, Ben Winters?
Inside Jobs: Tales from a Time of Quarantine first showed up as a free Audible offering, and after reading about gangsters being foiled by a bad Zoom connection in the blurb, I knew I had to read (listen) to it.
Inside Jobs is a very short offering, just three stories clocking in at two and a half hours (so not even a full hour per story), but it’s a fun homage to the times we live in now and definitely worth a free download.
The first story, The Crimson Parrot, is the most amusing. A group of gangsters are trying to mastermind a heist, but work-at-home conditions are not ideal for Zoom-relayed coordination. Children interrupt, hit men call in from locked bathrooms and broom closets, and some of the criminals just aren’t that tech savvy. It’s definitely a bad time to be a crime boss, especially when the new technology gives away a key plan . . . This story was quick and funny, with a good little twist at the end that makes us snidely laugh up our sleeves and curse the evils of teleconference software everywhere.
The next story, The Cape House, is the only one that really falls flat, although out of a collection of three stories, that means that 1/3 is automatically down for the count. So maybe not great. The quarantine is not as important to the story here, with the exception of the conclusion. This story is the shortest and details two estranged brothers who return to their childhood home and start to argue. What happens in quarantine . . . well . . .
The final story, Stop Motion, is the longest, and my personal favorite. An apartment-bound woman who recently broke up with her UPS driver boyfriend has decided to use the quarantine to get her life together. She is going to pick up all those good habits and hobbies she always meant to do but never had the time to indulge. This includes getting out her camera and working on a stop motion project. But when her camera catches something unexpected, she begins to suspect that her neighbors are using the quarantine to get something else done . . . and cover it up. Is her next-door neighbor a killer? Who will believe her and how can she stop him?
These are all fun stories, and it’s refreshing to share a pandemic tale with several (fictitious) someone elses. It’s certainly worth the free download and the two and a half hours, and I’m sure that Inside Jobs will bring a little bit of cheer (and irony) to your own quarantine experience.
– Frances Carden
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