By now everyone’s probably familiar with the Mike Tyson quote “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth”. Many of the stories in Ryan Sayles’ short story collection, I’m Not Happy ‘Til You’re Not Happy, are classic examples of what Tyson had in mind when he said this. Sayles’ characters have ideas of grandeur but, as is the case in many crime fiction/noir stories, life decides to punch them in the mouth and they are left reeling and at the mercy of the fates.
This collection has a nice selection of tales that range from hard-hitting noirish tales, to the dark and disturbing. No matter what flavor of misery you prefer, Sayles has you covered. My personal favorite was It Passes the Time, which is disturbing on many levels but the ending will leave you wondering just what in the hell goes through Sayles mind (I mean that as a compliment).
I was pleasantly surprised to find a Richard Dean Buckner (a recurring character from Sayles’ series of books) story that gives the reader either a tide-me-over until the next Buckner novel comes to light or a nice introduction to a character that has depth and bite and begs to be read in a longer story than the one offered in this collection.
Sayles has a dynamite manner of writing…his work sucks you in from the first sentence and his plots build momentum until the bitter end. His style plays well in both novels and short stories. This collection is an ass-kicker in the highest degree. There is not a single story that won’t floor you. Another winner for All Due Respect, but what else do you expect?
Reviewed by Derrick Horodyski.