Oates brings us dark tales that diabolically infiltrate everyday existence. The eight stories of varying length all expose a darkness of the human condition. Desperation and exploitation are common themes that bring them all together, and leave the reader with open-ended conclusions. While almost frustrating, at the same time these stories are all addicting page-turners.

In title story “High Crime Area,” an affluent professor is taken to a place of desperation she never knew possible. “The Home at Craigmillnar” is a tale of revenge served cold, “The Rescuer” follows a spiraling story of a brother and sister and “Demon” and “Toad Baby” are stories of monstrosity and despair like no other. In “The Last Man of Letters,” a famous author takes a tour of Europe and discovers money and fame are no replacement for manners. (MYSTERIOUS PRESS, Apr., 224 pp., $23.00)
Reviewed by: 
Terri Dukes