Let's say that everyone in the world was given a small slip of paper on it. Let's say that this slip of paper contained the person's name, the day they were going to die, and the cause of that death. What would this do? How would society react? How would employers react knowing when their employees would die and how long a potential employee have to live?
All interesting questions and all worth exploring in a story.
Robert Shearman touches upon all of these questions, but "Mortal Coil", the first story in Tiny Deaths, focuses more on Henry Clifford. Henry Clifford did not receive the note everyone else did. Henry Clifford did not receive a note at all. Shearman also touches upon how such a man might be treated, the anger, the disdain, the unconscious prejudice.
But, the story really isn't about that, either.
People start showing up at Henry's house saying that their note claimed they will die by Henry's hand and that they just want to get it done.
As with "Damned If You Don't", Robert Shearman has a very easy writing style, almost conversational. With "Mortal Coil" Shearman is writing about horrible things, terribly actions, and what should be an intensely dark subject. Somehow, the darkness feels lighthearted. The darkness is charming.
Having read two stories now, I'm hooked. These tiny deaths might be disguised literary crack.
It's good stuff.