Duck for Cover & Other Tales A Collection of Short Stories By Barbara Venkataraman

Oct 29, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

What do you do with those snippets, bits and pieces, vignettes that just beg to be shared? For Barbara Venkataraman, she compiles fourteen of her short stories in a book, Duck for Cover & Other Tales. The tales have a wide range of themes, settings, characters, and level of karmic intervention. She explores revenge and comeuppance, pay back and pay forward, and the dynamics of a myriad of relationships. Each story is a well-written narrative with engaging dialogue to illustrate the multi-generational personalities and a multitude of emotions. I, too, had various reactions from a fist pump “Yeah!” to a gasp of relief, from a poignant tear to an audible giggle, from thanks karma to a “I want more” wish. All in all this set was an enjoyable read, short in length, but not short on entertainment, and exactly what I expect from Barbara Venkataraman!

Duck for Cover & Other Tales Earns 5/5 Emotional Journeys…Engaging Fun!

A Dish Best Served Cold — Neighbors are suffering through a long-time feud. The latest of Mac’s insults was a smelly carcass thrown over the fence, but Howard says he’s good at retaliation. But, is that all there is? Thoughts: Can revenge be accepted if one’s motives are pure? Well-developed suspense with surprise closure.

The Yes Man — Her father’s mental abilities are diminishing as is proven by the number of subscriptions and specials of the month clubs he’d purchased. She worries about her father’s future. Thoughts: It is difficult to sort out a parent’s sunset years, but the final line is a fascinating rationale. My father, too, had several subscriptions and memberships needing to be canceled. For me, it’s streaming memberships, but can I get a “yes” for chocolate or coffee of the month clubs!

Living My Best — It’s bittersweet seeing someone else singing your songs to adoring fans long after you’ ve reach your senior years. It brings back fond memories, but is that enough? Thoughts: So many aging rockers still bring in the crowds, but some find it all too much or should have retired long ago. Nice ending for this aging rocker. I wonder, what legacy does a teacher have or want?

Thicker Than Blood — Kathy demands her siblings know the truth despite the consequences, ruined reputations, and possibility of the community’s response. Truth is best, but who’s best? Thoughts: Thought-provoking dilemma for the family with the possible very black sheep as a member of their clan. Ancestry-dot-com is an interesting tool for law enforcement, proven by actual headlines, yet is privacy an important factor?

The Devil’s Workshop — Scaring straight a juvvy offender wasn’t the success the judicial system hoped back in the seventies. Fortunately for today’s teenager, Noel, it’s community service and restitution. Will it work to put his future on the right path? Thoughts: A surprise at the end was an interesting partnership…show respect, build confidence, and offer hope might be a great way to change behavior.

From the Jaws of Victory — She was christened Lorelei, a strong name on which to build a strong life, but her father’s bad luck left her with one goal: destroy the man that destroyed her family. Thought: Children never know all the details of their parents’ lives. Interesting truth, but is it too late?

Duck for Cover — Jerome is livid about ducks everywhere and the damage to his home. The HOA President explains again that there’s nothing he can do to rectify the problem, so Jerome thought…he managed to rid himself of the iguanas, so why not ducks? Thoughts: I can totally identify with the dilemma of a duck invasion. Big karmic giggle, though, it makes me reevaluate my own attitude toward our “quackers.”

My Canadian Girlfriend — Catfishing, hacked identities, and scammers are all legit issues, but Chloe knows that. She’s been careful on the dating app, and besides she proved to her IT-trained mom that Santiago is real. But, a mother’s worry is a powerful motivator. Thoughts: Old-fashioned hook-ups may not have the same obstacles as online dating, but such a clever twist to this tale. Thank goodness, I met my ‘thirty-two years and counting’ hubby at work!

I’ll Drink to That — The Battle of the Bartenders is set between Casablanca and the imitator across the street, The Gin Joint. Casablanca lost last month’s challenge, but this month vows to be different. Life (well, since sixth grade) has tethered the two bar owners together, but with varying degrees of annoyance. Thoughts: Can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em? Interesting thoughts on the nature of competition…fun twist!

Whatever the Widget — Janice, nicknamed Jandroid, hates waste in all its forms, so she used those feelings to open up a business as an efficiency expert. Her first client, Put a Cork in It, is in desperate need of her expertise. Thoughts: With clever interview questions, the problem is revealed. It was a unique issue, but I’d like to have been privy to the team meeting that followed.

See You at the Movies — Sean and his Grandpa Joe had movies: watching, discussing, critiquing. His grandpa was also a master of using the perfect movie quote to fit the situation, but a line from Citizen Kane was a bit too cryptic. Thoughts: This story made me think how at my father’s memorial service we had mourners wearing Hawaiian shirts …he loved Hawaii, but the look on the funeral director’s face when we played “Aloha Oe” was priceless. What would you want at your funeral?

Brave New World — Although times change all the time, it seems what’s changing now is quite a departure from a norm that’s been the norm for centuries. Cash Not Accepted were words met with frustration by Nora along with people hypnotized by their phones and various apps for business transactions. Thoughts: I understand, totally, with Nora’s frustration or reluctance. I’m very protective of my online activities and leery of all the food apps. I like the convenience of using electronic payments, but cash is one certain way to protect your identity. I did, however, love the karmic giggle!

That Daring Young Man — Accusations of being boring lead Brett to spend his summer with a circus…a Cirque du Soleil for kids. Thoughts: Sometimes opportunities arise that are life-changing. Thought-provoking discussion: What adventure would you choose? Tour guide at an animal park for me: taking an elephant for a walk, feeding a gorilla, or giving a panda a bath.

Every Age All at Once — Wine definitely heightens Clara’s philosophical side: all our different ages are stored in our brain. Interesting. Melanie and Clara discuss ways to celebrate their half-a-century friendship: something wild and crazy, out of character, but… Thoughts: Fascinating insights into regret and the pause created by the pandemic. But, now what would you do with your friend? Tears of happiness flowed!

Be a Big Barbara Venkataraman Fan!
Barbara Venkataraman’s experience as an attorney in South Florida is one way to bring life into her art. She penned the six-book Jamie Quinn Mysteries with wit, cleverness, and an entertaining writing style. She also challenged several authors, and some non-professionals like me, to write exactly 100-word Flash Fiction with a holiday theme from Halloween to the winter Holidays, Valentine’s Day to Dog Days of Summer. She also wrote several non-fiction works with a humorous twist along with co-authoring with her son, Josh Venkataraman, Accidental Activist: Justice for the Groveland Four.

Barbara Venkataraman Blog: A Trip to the Mobius Strip
Barbara Venkataraman (Goodreads)
Barbara Venkataraman (Amazon)

To enter to win an ebook copy of Duck for Cover & Other Tales, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “duck,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 5, 2022. You must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up last week perfect for Halloween listening.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I got too busy this year and lost track of Barbara for awhile! Love everything she writes, such a variety and also makes you think. Thanks for the chance to win.

  2. We have a winner!

  3. Thanks for the wonderful review! 😀


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