Book Notification

Erin Flanagan Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Collections

The Usual Mistakes, and Other Stories (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
It's Not Going to Kill You, and Other Stories (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon

Erin Flanagan is an American author of fiction mystery and suspense novels. Her work includes Deer Season, the Usual Mistakes, and It’s Not Going to Kill You collections. She is an English professor at Wright State University in Ohio.

Flanagan’s short fiction story, the Usual Mistakes, appeared in Baltimore Review, Cimarron Review, Colorado Review, and North Dakota Quarterly, among other places.

Deer Season
The novel focuses on the disappearance of a teenager named Peggy Ahern. The increased drinking culture of the area was the leading cause of most problems, and Peggy feeling too smart, developed a habit of sneaking during the weekends to party at the Castle farm. She’s too young to be in control, but she sees it as a practice for the time she’ll join college.

It was the first weekend of the deer season in Gunthrum in 1985, and Hall Bullard had gone hunting accompanied by other locals. Peggy’s brother could get confirmed at the Lutheran church one night before. On that fateful night, she doesn’t return home as usual. Days pass, and she doesn’t come home, and she is nowhere to be found in the area.

The people in the town gossip that Hal did something to her. Hal is a good-looking man but has an intellectual incapacity to understand the world and things better. Since he left for hunting and came back with an exciting hint where there is blood in his truck and a dent near the headlight.

With an adult man’s body and needs, Peggy began flirting with him, and Hal never realized that he was going too far by responding to her. The story becomes more complex, from that of the missing girl to something more sinister.

Hal’s de facto parents do what they’ve been doing for over a decade; they detach him from the worst consequences. Alma and her husband Clyle have no option but to confront everything Hal might be capable of doing as gossip spreads, and the people see Hal’s dark and violent past in light.

Alma moved from Chicago with her Gunthrum native husband, and her no-nonsense nature has made her not connect with most locals. They took Hal while he was in high school and made him their own since they couldn’t bear their children.

Even though she’s unable to have kids, her maternal instincts have gone out to Hal, a Constagan farm worker whom she has partially mothered since his biological mother left.

They are in their late fifties, meaning a twenty-eight-year-old man can be the right age for their child. They are always ready to do whatever it takes to defend Hal, even when he’s guilty.

Even though Alma would not support the idea, Hal sometimes soothes the pain she has for wishing to become a mother but is not granted it. The town that Clyle is adamant about leaving is putting all the blame on Hal, and Alma despises the information against Hal since he’s their only family. Even though they’ve been willing to support him, they begin to wonder about his temper, no functioning sense, and the beautiful girl he fell in love with after flirting.

Milo Ahern is Peggy’s twelve-year brother and having an older sister allows him to see adults and older teens for their flaws. Processing his complicated feelings about his sister helps him know who might be responsible for Peggy’s disappearance.

Alma and Milo deal with several townspeople hiding secrets who include spouses having extramarital affairs, married men preying on teenage girls, and rampant drinking. The two aren’t allies, but they realize that they’ve a bigger issue to deal with as they investigate.

Drama arises as the complicated relationships connect the natives of the farming community. The novel explores questions about the lengths people can go to protect their loved ones and what it means to be a family.

Flanagan’s writing pulls the reader right into the story and keeps them engaged to the last page. The murder mystery element takes a back seat to the emotional struggles, but the two aspects are woven together to complement each other.

The author seems to have an eye for the modest but perfect observation of farmers, lonely kids, pastors, and nosy bakers, which gives the novel a divinity. Flanagan outdid herself by balancing the mystery and the surprising resolution with deep character explorations.

The Usual Mistakes
It’s a collection of short stories that leave the reader thinking, cringing, laughing, and understanding the uniquely flawed characters. Honda People is a story about a wife battling the frustration and pain that comes with an unfaithful partner.

Another story is about the desperate attempts of a homeless ex-husband trying to live his life stable and thriving. He goes to live in a truck after his infidelity is discovered.

Erin Flanagan’s characters aren’t perfect and keep on making decisions that may leave the reader uncomfortable and craving to know more at the same time. In one of the stories, a girlfriend points out the flaws in her best friend’s husband, who’s also her lover, with some cruel honesty. She’s a corporate consultant and invites herself to the married lover’s home for a revelatory dinner.

In another story, a lady with falsework experience helps in the struggle of an ex-Neo Nazi to dissolve her past. The characters in the stories will leave the reader with a better understanding of what it means to be a wife, a husband, an unfaithful spouse, a single friend, and a recently divorced.

The characters in the stories may appear as the usual suspects while making usual mistakes, but their stories are not usual. Filled with pretenders, wannabes, and ex-cons who loosen the rules and disobey the law and risk everything to save them, the twelve stories take the readers into a world of betrayal.

The characters include a bored mother-in-law looking for comfort, a sympathetic husband, an imposter medical officer, an ex-Neo Nazi covered in tattoos, and a boy who learns to forgive. Some of these characters are driven by the regret of their actions.

Erin Flanagan creates characters with real flaws in the real world as the reader gets an insight through the glimpses of their lives.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Erin Flanagan

Leave a Reply