I was fortunate to work with the wonderful and talented Jennifer Brozek on the Grants Pass collection, and she has been absolutely prolific since. Caller Unknown is a collection of short stories written by Jennifer that features the character, Karen Wilson, and her trials and tribulations in a town called Kendrick.
And then there’s Karen Wilson. She’s an operator for 911, until one day (on her private phone), she receives a call from UNKNOWN. They’re asking for help: someone’s going to be murdered and Karen has to stop it. Thus begins Karen’s role as a protector of the city.
This collection isn’t really a collection. It’s a novel told through a series of short stories; very much like a mosaic work. In general, it’s a very effective way to tell Karen’s story. Each chapter is punchy, fast-paced and action packed. Sometimes, though, I wanted to know more about what was happening – the stories that occurred between each chapter. Fortunately, the collection had a bonus story at the end, which helped sastify some of the questions I had developed.
Karen herself is likeable. She’s headstrong with a spine of steel and she's sometimes a bit rash. But she’s human, and she makes mistakes. And that’s what is great about this collection. There’s no super-powered Buffy to save the day or a character who can weave a spell to get out of trouble; rather, it’s argumentative and creative Karen who steps in to help.
The only real criticism I had was that one or two of the villains felt a little shallow at times. I think this contrast struck me because Karen is so well-developed, as are her friends and the wonderful Sebastian, who is frankly cute-as and awesome. But as far as issues go, this was pretty minor.
Caller Unknown definitely kept me intrigued and I wanted to keep reading to discover who UNKNOWN was and how Karen managed to deal with all the supernatural troubles that kept landing in her lap.
If you're interested in grabbing a copy, you can purchase it from Amazon.