This full cast audio CD includes 2 short stories previously published in Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions. There are some gruesome bits in both stories, but I didn’t find them gratuitous. The highlight is definitely “Murder Mysteries” which I think is the best of Gaiman’s short stories that he’s written outside of comics.
“Snow, Glass, Apples” is a retelling of Snow White, from the stepmother’s point of view, in which (view spoiler) It’s elegant and creepy – this version really isn’t a children’s story, any more than the original was. The basic idea is one I’ve seen before, though. Tanith Lee did it first in “Red As Blood,” Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer although that one has a very different ending. I’d probably give this 3 stars if I were rating it separately.
“Murder Mysteries” is a story within a story. In the frame story, the narrator, a British man, remembers a time when he was stuck in Los Angeles while trying to get back home. He briefly hooks up with an old girlfriend, and after leaving her apartment he meets an old man who tells him a story in exchange for some cigarettes. The old man claims that he was once the angel Raguel, charged with carrying out the Lord’s vengeance. He explains how he investigated the first crime in the history of the universe, the murder of an angel in the Silver City, the precursor of Heaven. There was no obvious motive, so there was no obvious suspect — but Raguel was willing to interview everyone in the City if he had to.
The full cast performance is absolutely captivating, and the eerie music is great.
“Perhaps it is true that all that happens is in accordance with Your Will, and thus it is good. But sometimes You leave blood on Your instruments.”