One Heartbeat Past Normal is a collection of macabre short stories written by Dennis Timothy. Each tale is self-contained, and there is no general theme connecting them. They are all, however, tales that are, literally, One Heartbeat Past Normal. Tranquility Park is a noir tale about a retired cop and his favorite diner, and it has the mood and ambiance of a hard-boiled detective story. Grandpa's Flask recounts the last few days of a retired Navy man's life as he tells his grandson stories about serving and the conflicts he'd been part of. A Watched Pot Never Boils is a slice of hill-country tall-telling about a healer and his special gifts. Each story has a weird twist to it: some are dark, but others make you smile. No one story is entirely predictable.
Dennis Timothy's short story collection One Heartbeat Past Normal is a delight. These stories are apt to give the reader a frisson of awe, terror or a slightly uncomfortable feeling of the unknown, in much the same way as the better tales in the old TV series One Step Beyond and Twilight Zone did. Each tale is a self-contained gem, sparkling and enticing, and they bring their own little worlds to life so beautifully. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started at the first tale, Perspective, but I found myself swiftly drawn into that first story and then successively into each of the subsequent tales. The stories in One Heartbeat Past Normal are somewhat like treats that one indulges in during a break or whenever it's possible to slip away from the commotion of the world for some enjoyable reading. I found myself anticipating with delight the start of a new tale and I felt a bit bereft when I realized that I had hit the last page of this book. One Heartbeat Past Normal is very highly recommended.