Vincent likes nothing more than rootling round second-hand shops in search of the interesting and unusual. Items that are lost and forgotten.
Why not? He needs the diversion. Time on his hands and money to burn. His life is affluent and empty. Little on the horizon and memories tinged bittersweet.
That’s all about to change. He’s about to find something that is perhaps better left unfound.
Call Drops is a darkly swirling mix of horror and mystery that will stay with you long after the reading is done. It’ll maybe make you think twice about impulse buying, those moments when you simply must have something, even though you don’t need it.
It might cause you to look again at the apparently mundane and everyday ...and possibly, just possibly, wonder at what twisted marvels lurk within your mobile phone.
Call Drops is a short (ish) horror story, the first in a series of sinister tales from the Dead Boxes Archive.
Some objects are scary things. Dead Boxes definitely fall into that category. They can be easily overlooked. They’re ordinary on the surface. At first glance anyway. If you look a little closer, you’ll see something unique.
You could have one and not know it.
They hold miracle and mystery. Horror and salvation.
John was born in England and grew up in the midlands where he learned to love the sound of scrapyard dogs and the rattle and clank of passing trains. He studied English, Art and History and has, at different times, been a sculptor, odd-job man and office worker. He enjoys horror and comedy (not necessarily together). Married with two astonishing children, he now lives a few miles from the old Victorian house in which he was born. Scribbling scary stories seems to keep him vaguely sane (accurate at time of writing).
Vincent Preece's treasure is other peoples' junk. Rooting around second-hand shops is his top hobby, yet times have changed over the years. Things have become too clean, too orderly, without that original layer of grease. Still, car boot sales still manage to get it right. and Vincent lands the jackpot when he discovers an old mobile phone, one that doesn't seem normal. Soon enough, a call comes through, and his life will never be the same.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
Whilst being short in length at less than a hundred pages, this well-crafted story constructed an air of intrigue that built up until its shocking conclusion. The introduction of Vincent Preece - a man with a lucrative history in the mobile phone industry - was all rather ordinary, yet there was something lurking just beneath the surface. Layer after layer of Vincent's history was thus peeled away over the course of the plot, revealing the events that led to his eventual misery, yet something didn't add up. I think it was Vincent's dialogue that struck me as odd, like he wasn't entirely in his right mind. I won't say too much; I'm already treading on spoiler territory and, honestly, it's best to experience it first-hand.
I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the object that became an influential presence in Vincent's life. What started as mild escalated a large and horrifying amount, also bringing with it the question of do we really know the people we surround ourselves with, or do we even know ourselves. I felt discomfort in the answer this tale offered - its bleakness concerning human nature held an ugly truth that most choose to ignore in reality. There may have been a lack of blood and guts, but horror comes in all flavours, and I personally find these brooding and ominous stories a lot more thought provoking.
In conclusion: Call Drops was a grim story that wormed its way into my mind. Despite Leonard's writing style being not altogether my thing, I couldn't help but become captivated by Vincent's obsession with the unknown. I'm glad I decided to fit this one into my monthly schedule!
Vincent had settled into despair like you'd settle into a favourite armchair after an especially hard day. The difference was that particular seat was apt to enfold you. Wrap you up and then squeeze the breath from your lungs.
Call Drops by John F.Leonard is a simmering short horror story full of intrigue and horror. Vincent Preece a hard grafting self made millionaire but his life is empty and everything and everyone he has ever loved is gone leaving him with too much time in his huge mansion set on the edge of the woods. To take his mind off his current state of affairs he loves nothing more than to rummage around junk shops in search of old forgotten treasure.
At a car boot sale he finds an odd phone that seemingly doesn't work. It will change his life forever.
I thoroughly enjoyed this tale it was dark with lots of mystery and intrigue piled on top. Its really creepy and creepier! The story will stay with you long after you have stopped reading.
It seems in this tale that everyone is in possession of a secret they would rather keep buried in this world of shady characters. Call Drops was unlike anything I've ever read before which was great it kept me on my toes and I had no idea what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed this and can't to see what this author writes next!
I loved this little dark story. 5 * The main character is a retired businessman. His days are long and he's bored and lonely. His only interest is buying interesting second-hand items. One day he goes to a carboot sale and discovers an old mobile phone. His business empire was in the mobile phone industry and this model is one he is quite unfamiliar with. He buys the phone and takes it home, only to discover it has no inner workings. Still, it looks beautiful so he keeps it. Shortly afterwards, the phone rings and an unidentified caller gives him a cryptic message about someone he knows. Thereafter, he receives other calls which lead him further into darkness. Well worth a read if you like dark and twisty tales.
What actually makes a great horror story? This seems like such a simple question, but in reality it is quite complex. Great horror writing does much more than simply scare or terrify the reader. Indeed, it will include elements such as mystery, suspense, fear, foreshadowing and a plot which will really make the reader think! To add to all of these, the story has to have strong, yet tragic characters, as well as a perfectly outlined setting which will set the mood for the tale. Otherwise, all you are really left with is a "gory story." There is little doubt that writing a great horror story is no easy job. However, in his work, Call Drops, John F. Leonard capably accomplishes this task. He manages to aptly capture all the elements of a great horror story which in turn explore the deepest depths of human psychology.
The secret of any good review is to adequately explore a work without giving too much of the plot away. Otherwise, you remove all the elements which the author relies upon. As such, this brief plot synopsis should provide enough information to capture the true essence of this novella.
The story focuses upon multimillionaire, Vincent Preece, who has built his fortune in the mobile phone industry. At the outset of the tale he is drawn to and subsequently purchases an old style cell phone at a sale. There is nothing particularly thrilling about that. However, when he arrives home the phone mysteriously activates and begins sending Preece some very disturbing messages which he is forced to investigate. Where are these messages coming from? Are they actually real? As the story unfolds, the truly dark and horrifying answers to these questions begin to unravel.
Before I began reading this book I did have my doubts as to whether I could truly become engaged in it. It is a short horror novella and I tend to enjoy longer stories to become fully engrossed in the work. This was not the case with this tale. I read it in one sitting and was entranced with its dark, disturbing and macabre progression. There was not a awful lot of time given to character development, but in this case it was not really needed. The author very effectively used all the core elements of the horror genre, such as fear and foreshadowing, to really draw in the reader. Add a pinch of disgust and you have a truly gripping tale. Also, while character development is not a key part of this novella, the author manages to slowly unveil Preece's dark traits as the story progresses. What is quite surprising is that as a reader you are able to sympathize and become revolted by Preece at the same time. I did not expect to identify with this character, but in some ways I did! John F. Leonard does a fantastic job at dipping into the darker side of human psychology and pulling out some very disturbing nuggets of truth.
As mentioned, there are some very disturbing scenes in this horror novella. As such I would only recommend it from a young adult crowd and up. For those who are fans of the horror genre...or just like great writing...this will be right up your alley.
Horror-mystery novella Call Drops quickly dives into the unraveling of the retired and bored Vincent Preece through a discovery of a sinister 'Dead Box'. Leonard writes with great story pacing; there are no lengthy set-ups or information dumps, as he is able to weave the backstory and Vincent's checkered past piece by piece into the action. Like any good mystery, the more Vincent is pushed, the more that is revealed. Recommended! Great premise. Looking forward to more Dead Box tales.
A dark and creepy read with a twisted sense of humour I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novella. I won’t keep you guessing, I loved this story. After reading several longish novels in a similar genre, I fancied a break. And what better break from reading than reading something completely different? I had read some great reviews of another one of Leonard’s novellas (also from the Dead Boxes Archive series) from members of the review team and knew I was in for a treat. The story starts innocuously enough. An old man of means, Vincent Preece, (he used to have a business, one of the early businesses in mobile phones, and he sold it making a big profit) who likes to go to second-hand shops and car-boot sales finds something rather unusual and impossible to resist for him. It looks like an old mobile phone, but he does not recognise the model and cannot find any indication of how it works. Still, he has to have it. If, like me, you loved the old Friday the 13th TV series with its creepy objects, or other similar stories (including some of the films in the Conjuring series), you will have guessed by now that things are going to take a turn for the interesting. And they do. I don’t want to spoil the read, but let’s say the phone does not keep silent for long, and the atmosphere gets creepier and darker as it progresses. The story, told in the third person but almost totally from Vincent’s point of view, gets deeper and deeper into the protagonist’s psyche. When we meet him, he is a lonely man, somewhat embittered and opinionated (although he keeps those opinions to himself), who has suffered losses in his life, from his business and his cat, to his wife and daughter, but he seems settled and has learned to enjoy the little things in life. He is a keen and witty observer, has a quick mind, and a sharp sense of humour. I am not sure I would say she is the most sympathetic character I’ve read about, but he comes across as a grumpy but amusing old man, and his wit and the plot are more than enough to keep us engaged and turning the pages. If you’re a reader of the genre, you’ve probably guessed that things are not as clear-cut as they seem, but I won’t give you any specific details. You’ll have to read it yourselves. Is it a horror story? It is not a scary story that will make you jump (or at least I don’t think so), but there are some horrifying scenes in it, graphically so (although no people are involved), and they’ve put some pictures in my mind that will probably remain there for a long time, but it is more in the range of the darker The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents type of stories than something that will have you screaming out loud. If you read the description of the series, you’ll get a good sense of it, and the epilogue and the closing warning to the reader are very well done and reminded me of both these TV programmes. The writing style is crisp and to the point, and the author manages to create a credible character with recognisable personality traits despite the briefness of the story. There are also moments when the writing reaches beyond functional storytelling, as if the character had dropped his self-protective shell and his stiff attitude and was talking from the heart. Here, talking about his wife and daughter: Their departure had left Vincent mystified and empty. As if the marrow had been sucked out of him. Hard to stand with hollow bones. But also: However liberal you tried to be, some folk were simply a waste of good organs. There was no denying it. I won’t talk about the ending in detail. There is a twist, and although some readers might have their suspicions, I think it works well, and I enjoyed it. I recommend this book to people who like dark and creepy reads, have a twisted sense of humour, and don’t mind some horrifying scenes. If you love The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents and are looking for a short and quick-paced read, give it a try. Perhaps we don’t need Dead Boxes’ objects in our lives, but we definitely need more of their stories.
This is a short story and you could easily read it in one sitting. Also, being a short story it doesn't waste time with any waffle - it gets right down to it and gives you the story without the trimmings.
Vincent lives on his own. He is retired, rich and his Wife and Duaghter are no longer there. He like trinkets and buys a curious model phone..............it looks like a phone but has no working parts that make it a usable phone. So when it rings Vinvent is beyond shocked.
The phone tells him to look into his finances and what he finds when he does is alarming.
The second call directs him to look into a neighbour's basement - what he finds there is sickening. (this part part put me in mind of Clive Barker's Coldheart Canyon)
At this point Vincent thinks that at some stage there is going to be some kind of payback and sure enough the next call starts him recalling things from his chequered past that he would rather stayed forgotten.
It was an easy read, the story keeps your interest and it is short enough to be able to read whilst reading something else and not taking over.
Oh, and the warning from the author at the end was wonderfully creepy.
This is one grim, twisty short story that filled this horror fan's heart with glee. It's been a while since I've read short stories, and I'd forgotten what a pleasure it can be to immediately get down to the business of storytelling - and this author does it well. He takes the reader by the hand and gradually reveals Vincent's life, both in present day and through flashbacks. All the while, you just know something sinister might be waiting around the corner. And trust me, it is - you won't be disappointed.
Don't expect blood and gore horror - this is more about the dark side of human nature, and what people are capable of doing to each other. The only negative for me, and this is my personal preference, is the cover - if I saw this book on the shelf, it isn't something that would immediately grab my attention. But the contents inside surely did. Call Drops has a Twilight Zone/Black Mirror feel, and can easily be read in one sitting.
I received a copy of this book from the author through Rosie's Book Review Team.
I chose to read Call Drops, a short story, by John F Leonard as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and received a copy direct from the author. This does not alter my review in any way.
Call Drops is the story of Vincent Preece, a self-made man, who now in retirement has everything he could want for materially but is bored and lonely, his wife and daughter having left him long ago.
Vincent loves browsing for second-hand stuff and one day at a car boot sale he finds a mobile phone, a very special one and one like nothing Vincent has ever seen before. And he knows his phones, they were how he made his fortune.
Thinking it had nothing more than an aesthetic beauty to offer he bought it and took it home. Shocked when first it rang. Trilling like an antique. The message he received was equally shocking but essentially good news, or would be eventually, for Vincent at least. The second call… well, that was something entirely different…
I love the way Leonard writes, it’s as simple as that. Although in shorter form it reminds me of one of my favourite authors, Mark Barry. Descriptions are sparse and yet luscious, Vincent, and his life, captured in every carefully chosen word. I’m a fan of short stories anyway and at the moment they are mostly all I can read so if you’re a fan too, and even if you’re not, give this a go, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
'Call Drops' is the first of the author's books I have read. A short story that took just two sittings to finish. Although I found the descriptive nature of the book rather too long, I nevertheless could not wait to get stuck back in and find out what was going on.
Some of the descriptions of the scenes taking place were like nothing I'd read or seen before. Other scenes were quick but were just as important as the longer scenes. The ending took me somewhat by surprise, but that's exactly what I was hoping for. If there was anything I wanted more of, it was more dialogue between Vincent, the main character, and some of the other characters mentioned in the story.
"Call Drops" I want to give it easily a 4.5. So close to a 5 in my mind. It doesn't take too long to get going and once you figure out the turns it's taking, you want to see where it goes. It doesn't drag much where it shouldn't and two scenes reminded me of ole Clive Barker in it's use of description (not as grotesque, but vivid). Always a plus in my book. Dug the little author note at the end. Spooky little touch. Quick and well-told, recommended!
Definitely a great read. A tale of mysterious retribution and lost loves, easy on the lost loves. Writing was detailed and easy on the tongue. Wishing there had been a little more to the story, maybe details and execution on the retribution as they seem slightly rushed to the reader, but in the end I find myself anticipating my next John F. Leonard read. Well done. Wait, is that my old phone ringing?!
What an amazing show of character development. While reading I found myself taking on the fears and thoughts of the main character, trying to find my footing as it were and just had no clue what twists and turns were to await me as I continued reading. I love that. I love to be surprised and this book did that.
I read it straight through. It’s very, very good–old school horror of the guilt-laden variety. If you liked Needful Things or Duma Key by Stephen King, you will like this story by John F. Leonard. It’s masterfully written with a perfect pace for the dark, grim tale. The protagonist’s voice is clipped, but that only adds to the tale.
The story is told from the perspective of a retired telecom shark, a man alone in a ten-bedroom mansion. He reveals that his wife left him and took their daughter with her. He finds an interesting old cell phone at a junk sale, one that intrigues him and captures his imagination. It has no internals, and he believes it must have been a prototype or a toy.
Then he receives a call on it…and is given a tip that turns out to be true, which only deepens his obsession.
My rating 10/5!
Reading this novella will only deepen your obsession with Mr. Leonard’s work!
Vincent Preece, former mobile phone developing giant, can't help but be attracted to an odd little "dead" handset he sees at a boot sale. Though it lacks the proper electronics inside, he begins receiving odd calls that inform him of heinous acts by those around him. But, as he becomes more obsessed with these calls, he begins uncovering things about himself that he'd rather forget.
The dark twists and turns in this definitely kept me engaged, and it gave me the chills a few times. Loved it!
Something about Call Drops harkens back to an older, sturdier brand of horror you just don't see anymore.
It could have something to do with the setting: the sullen, drizzly English countryside. Or that it's characters are complicated, full-grown people with full-grown skeletons in their closets...instead of the shrill and vapid adolescents who dominate the genre these days. But I have a feeling it has most to do with the impressive quality of author John F. Leonard's macabre, acerbic, elegant writing.
It reads like a good, old-fashioned horror yarn where the supernatural isn't used for cheap thrills so much as to mirror the dark within the human heart. Perfect for that rainy afternoon; I heartily recommend.
This tale by John F. Leonard is a short delve into darkness. As a stand alone short story I’d been putting it off for a while, instead preferring to tackle a collection of stories or a novel. But when scrolling through my Kindle library the other day whilst ‘between books’ it just seemed like the perfect time to read it.
Why had I taken so long? John’s novel, Bad Pennies was one I read earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed. And Call Drops is similar to the vibe of that one. They both involve mysterious, seemingly ordinary objects that are in fact gateways to some supernatural horror. In Bad Pennies it was a wallet that spawned money, in this it was a mobile phone.
But not just any mobile phone. This one seems to defy technology. With an almost alien-like casing that makes the thing look like nothing even remotely technological could be going on inside it, the device is bought at a car boot sale by Vincent. Vincent, a millionaire, made his fortune out of mobile phones. I know, right?
Although Vincent has it all, he’s actually pretty lonely. His wife and daughter are gone, his business partner and friend he no longer sees; underneath the surface life ain’t too great.
Things start to change when this mysterious phone begins to ring. A strange voice on the other end offers some advice to Vincent, telling him to look into some things regarding his finances.
Would you believe it, the phone was correct. When another call comes in, Vincent follows the advice once more, discovering a grisly secret about one of his neighbours.
But it’s the third call which is the most shocking of all. I’m not going to say anything about it but what we, the readers, discover is not what we expected at all. Well I didn’t anyway.
I made it through this story in just one sitting. Yes, it’s short but I did have other things I should have been doing, I just couldn’t leave Vincent alone. There’s no wasting of the words here, the story blitzes from start to finish, just teasing you along with the carrot of carnage dangling before your feeble eyes.
Perhaps the most unsettling thing about this story was the author’s note at the end. Now most of the time an author will thank those who helped them work on the book and the readers. But here we are treated to a kind of warning about objects we may own that are not what we think they are. We may be in possession of our very own doorway to the ‘other side’. What a way to end a creepy tale with the author creeping you out a little more, and that’s not even part of the story!
I don’t normally review stand alone short stories, but I had to with this one, it was that good. I believe it is still free over at Amazon so it’s well worth an investment in your time. Just hope that your mobile doesn’t ring while you’re reading!
I've had this on my Paperwhite for a while, so I decided to start it this morning... and finished it a few hours later because I just had to know where it was going.
Vincent Preece is a rich man who made his money during the beginning of the telecommunication era, just before the rise of the mobile phone. He's a lonely man, but lives in the big house he used to share with his wife and daughter. He also loves to check out second-hand stores. Although, according to him, they're getting too clean and mainstream. Car boot sales are okay, and that's where he finds his latest toy--an immaculate, one of a kind phone he's never seen before.
The phone isn't charged and isn't even supposed to work, so when it rings he doesn't know what to do. Except, of course, there's only one thing to do: answer it...
OMG. This story certainly hooked me in. What starts out as a boring and very jaded older man judging everyone and everything, soon becomes the very intriguing story of a mobile phone that rings when it wants, and gives Vincent insight that leads him to some pretty horrific discoveries.
There's a taxidermy scene that was gross as hell. And sad, too. There's also an air of creepiness hanging over the whole story. But it's not until the last half of the book that everything suddenly becomes crystal clear and the seemingly mundane comments he makes throughout the story about his business ventures and marriage become so much more.
This story just got darker and darker. By the time this character's true nature unravels, every awful clue comes together and makes perfect sinister sense. 😳
Yeah, I really enjoyed this! I quite enjoy unreliable narrators, and they don't get less reliable than this guy.
This story turned out to be a disturbing mystery, wrapped in some horrid horror, with a gruesome filling. Definitely worth checking out.
Short stories are like appetizers. You crave for more. 'Call drops' is more creepy than horror and it shows the twists of the human mind. The black box device is a fine example of what you can find in a genuine second hand shop and why I avoid them. Something so ordinary can turn your life upside down and bring to surface hidden mysteries. I loved the narrative of the book, the characters, the settings. John F Leonard writes an interesting story with an unexpected ending. Twilight zone music please in the background...
Try to imagine being able to read the inside of Clive Barker's head as he dreams an episode of The Twilight Zone. I know that doesn't give you any idea of what 'Call Drops' is actually about but that's what the story felt like as I was reading it (straight through in one sitting) and it does avoid spoilers. Plus, hopefully, you will be intrigued enough to read the book yourself, which I heartily recommend doing.
I truly enjoyed this story from John! I had a blast reading it, not sure what the device was capable of and where the story would go. The ending definitely isn't expected or something most people would see coming!
My only issue I had with this, was I wish, after reading this, that it was a full length novel. But at the end of the day, that's not a reason for you not to check this out!
[Note of disclosure: I recieved this book for free for review purposes, but I will be as neutral as possible while reviewing the book!]
Call Drops by John F Leonard is the first short story I'll review, but certainly not the last, as well as the first horror book I've read since Pet Sematary five years ago, and I defenitely will start diving deeper into the horror genre in the future.
The book tell the story of Vincent Preece and how he discovers how bad everyone in hos life are, and how a phone that shouldn't work pushes him to… get rid of them. The story was very good, it really grabbed my attention and I could feel the tension as I read. There's a lot of mystery, while still dropping a lot hints for you to grab your attention while reading.
The character(s) are well written, such as Vincent and how easily you get into his head while writing, in a way keeping the story in an "enclosed" space, increasing the tension and mystery.
The other characters are also well written and fleshed out, even if they're only in the story for a few pages.
I do think however that it's important to, unlike me, read it in one go and not take breaks, as each break also ruins the tension that is built up. I also think it would've been better to read when it's dark and when it's quiet around you. It certainly would've been for me. So if you're thinking of reading this, do it on a day when you can sit down for one or two hours undisturbed and then just read it. I guarantee that it'll will grab your attention and that you'll be amazed when you've read it.
I defenitely enjoyed the book and would recommend it to people who like horror or want to get into the genre.
Vincent is a retired businessman: a rich retired businessman. He made his money in not so above-the-board telecommunications deals. He is still fascinated by old mobile phones. While sorting through a car boot sale he finds an interesting model. The innards are missing, so it can't possibly work. But then one day it rings.
I really liked this story about right and wrong, justice and injustice and messages from the universe that tell us about the truth. Of course the truth can be very unsettling. Do we really want to know it? And who decides wright from wrong anyway?
Vincent come off well as a slightly doddery old man with quaint habits like using rhyming sayings.
All-in-all this was a great paranormal/psychological read.
Vincent was a wealthy, 64-year-old retiree who enjoyed discovering things in second-hand shops. He found a “mobile phone” that had seemingly never gone into production, and brought it home. When this device began to ring, Vincent received cryptic messages that prompted him to lead certain actions.
Perhaps it is because I am naive, but I did not foresee that Vincent would have had those dark secrets. I enjoyed the turn of events, and the revelation in the end.
Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a well-written short story.