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Jan 08, Matt rated it really liked it. Joe Hill pulls readers in with this short story that offers both entertainment and social commentary of the highest order. Her time dealing with prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison helped hone a hard outer shell, as she was always to stay out of the limelight and within rage of the camera's eye. Little soft or nurturing characteristics appeared during her time with those who backed the dreaded Butcher of Baghdad. No Joe Hill pulls readers in with this short story that offers both entertainment and social commentary of the highest order. Now back on US soil, Mal receives a black thumbprint, alone on a white sheet of paper; no note or explanation accompanying it.

Unable to decipher what it means, she returns to work, tending bar at one of the local watering holes. As the narrative progresses, Mal splits her time dealing with a present-day blackmail scheme and flashbacks to time in Iraq. More thumbprints emerge, leaving Mal to wonder if someone has taken offence to her making a buck off men who want a cheap thrill, though it is only when she returns home after a weekend shift that all becomes clear. Hill is able to keep the reader flipping pages in hopes of discovering what lies beneath, all while providing strong arguments surrounding US Military treatment of Iraqis in the mids.

While the story took me under an hour to read, its themes resonate with me even now. This is the second piece by Hill that I have read, both of which were chock-full of social commentary on society and the treatment of others. While some might say I am digging too deep and not reading for enjoyment, as I mentioned in an earlier review, Hill presents his ideas so clearly that the reader would be remiss not to notice them. In crafting the Mal character, Hill is able to effectively paint the portrait of an Iraqi war vet, perhaps jaded and scarred by what she has seen.

The story was brief enough that forward development was not possible to notice, though the reader surely develops an understanding of her backstory and can surmise what is to come after the final lines of the story drift into the literary ether. This story comes highly recommended and is brief enough that a lunch break or brief period of quiet is all one needs to absorb what he has to say.


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Kudos, Mr. Hill for another great piece of writing. I am not sure where I have been all this time, but am glad to have discovered you lately.

Digital forensics

Nov 16, Brandon rated it liked it Shelves: ebook , , fiction. I haven't read or watched a lot of fiction that has to do with war. I've only really seen a handful of movies and the majority of them paint soldiers in a glowing light. I'm not about to sit here and criticize those who put themselves directly in harms way on a daily basis - a job I could never find the balls to do myself - I'll leave that to others; others like Joe Hill.

The bulk of this story follows Mal Greenfell, a solider that returned from Iraq "You'd be surprised what you can do to people". The bulk of this story follows Mal Greenfell, a solider that returned from Iraq and is trying to adjust to life as a private citizen. Having died approximately ten hours before her arrival back in America, Mal's father left her his home as well as his car. Mal takes a job as a bartender and slowly realizes that she's not the person she was when she ventured overseas, that her true self is who she is now - a careless and ruthless individual who isn't above violence and theft.

Thumbprint - A Story

Following the arrival of a letter containing only a single fingerprint, Mal begins to question if someone is threatening her. Given Mal's sordid past, she may have created several enemies. I thought this was pretty average; not bad but not on the level that he's capable of. That being said, I thought it was paced well and had a decently satisfying conclusion. So a solid 3 stars. If anything, it's a quick read and only runs you about 99 cents. Also, more Joe Hill is always welcome. If you know me, you know that I am a huge fan of Joe Hill, which generally means that I'd read his grocery list if he published it.

I don't need to know what a Joe Hill story is about in order to know that it's going to be good, and such is the case with Thumbprint. So I read it, without a clue as to what it was about, because he wrote it. And I don't know if I would really call this "horror" so much as horrifying.

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This little story is 42 pages long, and in those pages, there's a lot that distur If you know me, you know that I am a huge fan of Joe Hill, which generally means that I'd read his grocery list if he published it. This little story is 42 pages long, and in those pages, there's a lot that disturbed me enough to make me feel extremely uncomfortable.

And angry. And horrified. And ashamed. I know that I should not be shocked by the extent of cruelty people display towards each other I continue to be, because I also know that if I stop being shocked by it, start accepting it as a given, then I'll have lost all faith in humanity, and that is a frightening thing to me. I do not want to live in a world where the expectation is hatred and fear of the 'different'. It's not our nature to hate - it's something that we have to be taught. We have to be conditioned to it. After so long of being on the constant look-out for the things we hate and fear Unconnected things start forming patterns, leading us to conclusions that can only be reached from a certain expectation from the start.

And our minds start to justify atrocities as necessary.

Diving Belles

Because of the conditioning that made us fear in the first place. Anyway, I'm getting off track here. This story is about a woman who did some terrible things while stationed in Iraq. Our main character, Mal, is an extremely fucked up bitch.

We catch up to her after she's home from her tour, and as she's trying to fit back in to normal life. She is not a good person. Her name alone tells us that. My distinct and immediate dislike of her just proves how brilliant Joe Hill is. He made her believable in a way that literally had me grimacing as I read about her.

It would have been so easy to go over the top and make her almost a caricature, but he didn't.

I did not like her, but she was believable But no, she is not a good person. In her words: "Two hundred dollars a month was what it cost to make a torturer out of [me]. At one point in the story, she mentions how the drugs they were on and the sleep deprivation and the constant alertness made her do terrible things At least she realizes it though Perhaps a tiny sliver of a chance for redemption? This little story disturbed me because it's plausible.

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It's possible. It's probably happened, though the details may be different.

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Mal put it extremely bluntly and accurately when she said "You'd be surprised what you can do to people. I wanted to know what happened But still, this was a great story, if not at all fun to actually read. View 2 comments. Oct 04, Evans Light rated it liked it Shelves: have-it. I'm really torn and speechless on this one.

I love Joe Hill. I've never read anything he's written that I didn't absolutely admire and adore, both for the wordsmith and creativity. Until now.