Short Fuses by Stephen Leather – a Kindle ‘Look Inside’ review!


Just to clarify this is a review of a sample, not the whole ebook. The samples on Amazon’s Look Inside feature, allows a reader to click on the book’s cover to read the inside contents. The Look Inside feature offers the first 10% of a text (usually 10,000-ish words), and I kinda feel this is a good enough slice to get  a preliminary taste and flavour for what’s to come. I will therefore evaluate the plot outline, offer opinion as to the originality of the premise and idea. I will check the overall presentation, such as the cover art, grammar & punctuation errors, too. Finally, I’ll assess the writing-style and give an overall mark out of 10.

It’s simple and quick allowing you a more informed choice on what to download next.


Short Fuses (Kindle Edition)

By Stephen Leather

Genre: Thriller/Short Stories

Publisher: Three Elephants 2012

Price: FREE

Plot & Originality: 

Short Fuses offers four free short stories and also further samples of some of Stephen Leather’s full-length works. It’s essentially a taster/teaser for his longer fiction – of which there is plenty on offer. I read the first  two short stories.

1: Breaking In, a story about a burglar whose plans go somewhat awry. There’s an air of intrigue and something new about this from the very off (criminals beware what you do because you just never know who you’re gonna come across – a concurring theme in both the stories I read). It’s also clear Leather has his own political points to make, something he achieves subtly within the tale. Unfortunately, at least for me, in terms of the plot I mostly felt two steps ahead of the action, guessing the outcome early on, as a predictable enough ending ensued.

Of course, there was enough powder, detail and interest for me to read on, and I’m very glad I did because the second short story is real… dynamite?

2: Strangers On a Train, which centers on a bunch of feral hoodies carrying out a planned mugging of passengers between tube stops. Again the plot is perhaps fairly routine (vigilante kicks ass), and yet the setting of the story on London’s tube really adds something new and exciting to this piece. In addition there are twists and snaking turns aplenty, too as you feel the adrenalin rush with each screen click and your heart race as you truly imagine yourself on that tube ride from hell.


As you can see above, the cover is pretty basic and uninspiring, although with that said, it is functional and fitting – besides it’s free, and so hard to criticise too much. Also the formatting is to a high standard, as is the editing, and it all reads well with no mistakes that I spotted. All in all, very professional.


The writing is first class, short with muscular prose. Stephen Leather is a writer who knows how to describe action and deliver thrilling suspense. For me Strangers On a Train has you clicking through the screens, on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It is in a master-class in how to write a thrilling short-story with plenty of bang.

Overall view:

Really enjoyed Strangers On a Train and as a taster Short Fuses very much works. I’m going to read the remaining two short stories and if they’re as good as Strangers On a Train I will be reviewing another of Mr Leather’s titles.




Review by Tom Conrad

2 Responses to Short Fuses by Stephen Leather – a Kindle ‘Look Inside’ review!

  1. Thanks for a great review, Tom, much appreciated! You’re right that the cover is cheap and cheerful – it cost me just US$50 which I think is a bargain!

  2. Hi Stephen,

    really appreciate you dropping by. Tbh, I think I rushed the review a bit and failed to get across how much I enjoyed the short stories – especially Strangers On a Train. I will check out one of your novels and give a more detailed and in-depth review asap. For instance, how you sum up and portray the inner fears and inadequacies of “the cop”, well, I thought that was superb writing.

    Thanks for the great read and your comment!

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