Mallory (Mal) returns from the Iraq War with some blood on her hands. She was never what you could say a “nice” person but the war brought out a special kind of evil in her. She worked in a prison where Iraqi soldiers were held and did her share of atrocities against them. She enjoyed the crimes she and her fellow soldiers committed there. It was just pure luck that there was no evidence that proved her actions which is the only reason why she left the war without handcuffs on her.

When Mal returned home she got her old job back working at a bar but was just as mean there as she was at war. One night she stole money and a wedding band from one of her very drunk clients, split the money with another bartender who was with her, and kept the wedding band.

Shortly after, Mal starts finding pieces of paper with thumbprints on them. A different print with every note she received. Whomever was sending her these thumbprints were getting braver and braver. The first one was in her mailbox, the second was slid under her door, and another was taped to a mirror in her home. Someone is sending her a message and Mal knows she better be on guard.

Thumbprint” by Joe Hill is a short story that can easily be read in under an hour. I’m not sure how I feel about it. The story shows some terrible things that were committed against the Iraqi soldiers by American troops. Even though I heard about these horrible acts it was something else to read about them and how the American soldiers felt about what they did. I’m not judging anyone here it was just disturbing to read about these actions.

The story was good enough and got me thinking a bit but it kind of ended abruptly for me. I’m not sure what more Mr. Hill could have written to conclude it so maybe it was best that it ended the way it did. The author let the reader know what was going to happen next so why bother going through it all?

“Thumbprint” is not Hill’s typical “horror” story like his novels. No ghosts, or goblins, or zombies running around only the real horror of what people can and do to others. That’s far scarier than running from a zombie.

If you’re a fan of Joe Hill then definitely spend an hour reading the story but just remember that it can be quite upsetting.


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