Sunday, April 26, 2015

We On The Train! by Margaret Maron

"We On The Train!" by Margaret Maron, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, May 2015.  

If you have ever read a book to a small child you know that the highest possible accolade they can offer is an immediate "Read it again!"  The first thing I did after finishing this story is start it over.

Of course, it helps that the story is very short - flash fiction or close to it - but it is so clever that I had to take another look at.

Greg McInnis is a DEA agent who prefers to do his business traveling by train.  On a trip up the east coast he is amused by a young African-American woman who is gleefully phoning everyone she knows to tell them that she is going to visit New York with an older man she says is her Uncle Leon.

Sounds innocent enough, but this is a crime story, so something else must be going on here.  Will our hero figure it out in time?  He only has four pages...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Arthur Ellis Award Nomination

The Crime Writers of Canada have announced the nominations for the Arthur Ellis Awards.  Congratulations to all the short story nominees, eh!

Best Short Story
Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress, McClelland & Stewart
Melodie Campbell, Hook, Line and Sinker, Your McMurray Magazine
Peter Clement, Therapy, Belgrave House
Madona Skaff, First Impressions, The Whole She-Bang 2, Sisters in Crime
Kevin P. Thornton, Writers Block, World Enough and Crime, Carrick Publishing

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson, by Robert Mangeot

"Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson," by Robert Mangeot, in Alfred Hitchcock's mystery Magazine, May 2015.

Mr. Mangeot makes his second appearance here.  This story is all about language and character.

The character is Vi Celucci, and she is an Optimizer, which means she specializes in making your life and workplace more efficient, healthier, and better organized.  Obsession is either funny or tragic, depending on how close you are standing to the fallout, and Ms. Celucci is obsessive about her field, and maybe about everything else.

She received two counterfeit ten dollar bills and  feels the authorities are not up to the job of finding the counterfeiters.  "The Secret Service guy asked me to repeat myself, which did not bode well for either his cognitive or listening skills."

So she decides to crack the case herself.  And this is a formidable lady, determined, and very sure of herself.

I shook my head, and I only shook my head one way: hard right, soft return.  Anything more was wasted motion.

Hilarious.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Continental Opposite, by Evan Lewis

"The Continental Opposite," by Evan Lewis, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, May 2015.

This dude Lewis is turning into a major threat.  First there were his stories about Skyler Hobbs,who thinks he is the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes.  Then tales of Davy Crockett's ghost, who harasses his descendents into solving crimes.  And now he has revived Dashiell Hammett's famous character the Continental Op.

Brief pause for confusion from the readers.  But Hammett's family owns the copyright!  And Lopresti doesn't like fan fiction (Author B writing new stories with the characters of Author A)!

True.  But I am sometimes a sucker for reboots, in which Author B rethinks the original and comes up with a new twist.

This story takes place in the fifties, decades after the Op's last appearance.  The main character is a young detective named Peter Collins (he notes bitterly that his father deliberately gave him a name that is gangland slang for "nobody").  Peter works for the Portland, Oregon branch of a national detective agency and when he accuses his boss of corruption the company sends in a retired op who used to work for the San Francisco branch("sometime in the forties Continental had put him out to pasture, and he'd spent the years since killing a vegetable garden, sneering at golf course, and not catching fish.") .  Peter finds him sinister and refers to him as the Old Man.

Hmm.  In Hammett's stories the Op's boss was the Old Man, but it is clearly not the same person.  In fact, this new guy strongly resembles Hammett's hero, much older and, if possible, more cynical.

Now let's address the copyright issue.  Does Lewis use the name of the characters?  No, because the Op never had one.  (And Old Man is hardly a unique moniker either.)  The Op worked for the Continental Detective Agency.  Peter works for Continental Investigations, which recently changed its name from something or other.

A brilliant story, and the first of a series.  I can hardly wait.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Fedora, by Terrell Lee Lankford

"The Fedora," by Terrell Lee Lankford, in The Private Eye Writers of America present Fifty Shades of Grey Fedora, edited by Robert J. Randisi, Riverdale Avenue Books, 2015.

The first story I reviewed form this book was a private eye story.  Now we're into noir. The nameless narrator makes a living doing low-level investigatory work for his uncle, a P.I.  Then uncle's friend Milo explains that he is going overseas for six months and wants someone to keep an eye on his wife, make sure she isn't fooling around.


And of course, she's gorgeous.

If you have read any noir at all I don't have to tell you what happens next.  And the ending will bring bad news for somebody.  

A well-written, moody little story.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

International Thriller Award nominees

The International Thrillers Wirters has announced their nominees.  Congrat to all!

BEST SHORT STORY

Richard Helms - Busting Red Heads, EQMM
Stephen Ross - Pussycat, Pussycat, EQMM
Gigi Vernon - Show Stopper, ICE COLD
Ben Vincent - The Honey Trap, ICE COLD
Tim L. WIlliams - The Last Wrestling Bear in West Kentucky, EQMM

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

And one more Derringer

I am delighted to report that the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for lifetime achievement in the mystery short story went to the great James Powell.  Congratulations, Jim!