The Big Baby Crime Spree and Other Delusions by Darrin Doyle was the weirdest book of short stories I've ever read (in a good way.)
The collection is part of the American Storytellers Series at Wolfson Press. This series promotes genres of writing that have been neglected by major publishing houses (short stories, novellas, short memoir, and the literary essay, for example.)
There are five stories in the collection; the book overall clocks in at just under 100 pages. I blew through it in a couple of hours. If you're looking for something quick to read, this is definitely a great pick. The stories themselves aren't too long; it's a perfect read if you're a busy person looking for something you can put down and pick back up rather than read straight through.
This book has murder, affairs, and a plot to kidnap babies from a hospital, among other nefarious acts.
My favorite story was "The Baby Doll." At the beginning of the story, the main character sees his wife and four-month-old child off as they go on a trip to Michigan. The main character then gets together with his mistress. He starts to feel guilty and decides to end it with his mistress. Only, she won't go away. We later find out she's been murdered. But by whom?
Aside from the plot, Doyle wrote some beautiful lines that stuck with me. This particular passage from "The Odds" grabbed me:
"I’ve never seen these things as 'bad luck.' They were just occurrences that affected a small group of people within a certain radius. I view life as a big pond, where it’s raining. I’m in a certain area of the pond. The rain is what happens to me, what happens to people around me. Sometimes it sprinkles, sometimes it pours. The raindrops make ripples. We feel these ripples when they hit us, we feel turbulence. At times the ripples overlap so we’re feeling turbulence compounded by other turbulence, but nobody feels everything that's going on in that pond."
That one made me stop and think for a moment. Doyle sprinkles these beautiful passages throughout the stories which is one of the main reasons I love this collection so much.
These stories can be a bit strange at times. There is one story wherein the main character draws countless images of a naked dead woman (who isn't actually dead;) he's haunted by her day in and day out. She makes tons of weird phone calls to him, there's a bodyguard guy who might shoot him at one point...that story was a lot to process all at once. But, that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it!
Overall, I'd give this collection a four out of five stars. And it releases tomorrow (March 1, 2021)! I encourage you to pick up a copy.