Ultimate Revenge by Eichin Chang-Lim is a short story examining the value of revenge. Russell ends up spending seven years incarcerated in federal prison after being tricked into delivering guns and drugs for a workmate. Caught in the FBI stakeout, Russell argues his naivety and lack of knowledge of what was in the parcel, but with the disappearance of Joshua, the man he did the favor for, he ends up as the number one criminal in an organized crime case. Now released, reunited with his wife and daughter, and finally making headway with a small restaurant, Russell is consumed by thoughts of revenge and making Joshua pay for stealing seven years of his life. When he accidentally spies the man in a bank, his deep-seated anger emerges, and he immediately begins making plans to enact an act of revenge that will fit the wrong done to him. Joshua has to pay!
This is not the first work I’ve read of Eichin Chang-Lim, an author I have been impressed with. Ultimate Revenge is a short story unlike some of her other work. I was keen to see if her ability to develop character and pinpoint salient issues in relationships and life would translate into this particular format. Russell’s undying rage at Joshua’s betrayal is conveyed on every page, and most of us will be able to readily identify with his anger. I found it interesting that despite his seven years in prison, his childhood sweetheart and their daughter stood by him. Yet, despite this, Russell is prepared to risk it all again for all-consuming revenge. The idea of revenge being sweet is something that Chang-Lim addresses head-on, and I enjoyed exploring this idea with her. As a bonus, she provides us with twenty stories of fantastic flash fiction at the end, which is not something I usually read, but I did enjoy these short, pithy tales with some clever twists. Three flash-fiction stories that tickled my fancy were Line by Line, Almost, and I Don’t Mean It, but they all had something genuinely intriguing or exciting to say. I can highly recommend it to those with little time on their hands or wanting to try something short, succinct, and to the point.