Monday, February 18, 2019
You could call this a ghost story but you probably won't. The narrator is a troubled young man who gets regular nightly visits from Ted Bundy. The deceased serial killer (we never read his actual words) wants him to carry on the tradition by killing women who resemble ones who got away from Bundy.
This disturbs our protagonist enough that his arguments with said killer wake his mother who brings in a social worker. He isn't very fond of the caseworker. He doesn't seem to get along with anyone, really...
A very creepy story, although thankfully not filled with gore and horror. Many surprises along the way.
Monday, February 11, 2019
This is the third appearance here by my friend and fellow SleuthSayer Steve Hockensmith. I am rather surprised that it is the first one I have listed concerning his series characters the Amlingmeyer brothers. Old Red and Big Red are cowboys at the end of the nineteenth century. Old Red is illiterate but a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. His younger brother Big Red is his long-suffering Watson.
When this story opens Gus and Otto (to give them either more formal names) have just settled in Ogden, Utah, where they have opened a detective agency. Due to Big Red's big mouth they find themselves out in the hills searching for a pine tree to help their landlady celebrate Christmas. This being a crime story, other stuff happens.
What makes these tales a treat is a combination of great characters and fine language. For example, our heroes meet three children and here is a bit of conversation with two of them.
"We were out looking for a Christmas tree," the boy said, "and we spotted a bear and-"
"I spotted it," the girl -- Sariah -- interjected.
Her brother ignored her.
"--we think it might be dead, but if it's alive we thought we could shoot it and sell the meat in town--"
"I thought we could shoot it and sell the meat in town," Sariah said.
Ammon kept plowing on.
"--but we don't have a gun, so we sent our little brother to find somenoe who did--"
"I sent our little brother..." Sariah began...
You can picture them, can't you?
By the way, if you want to know what happens to the brothers next, you can find out in Hockensmith's new book The Double A Western Detective Agency. I can testify that it is, as Big Red, would say, a real ripsnorter.
Monday, February 4, 2019
This is the third appearance in this space by Mark Thielman. The first two were somber tales featuring actual historical personages. The current entry is not like that, as you can probably guess from the title.
The narrator is a part-time private eye who makes most of his living dressed as a potato, promoting the cause at various supermarkets. He says the Potato Board calls him the "Spud Stud."
Lately he's been doing his thing at Uncle Bob's Natural Food Emporium, but someone murdered Charlie, the produce manager, who was dressed as, yup, an avocado. The deputy suspects our hero. His only ally is an actress dressed as Babs the Baguette.
No, not somber this time. But enjoyable.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
We are very noir today, with a sense of doom hanging over every page of this story. Here is the opening paragraph:
My papa died when I was a baby, shot in the crossfire between the cartel and the police.
Our narrator grows up to be a soldier for the cartel but he swears to get his family out of the life and into the United States. He succeeds, but how long can a good thing last.
At one point there is a gun in his house and he says "eso infecta." It is infected. He isn't referring to anything as natural as a germ, just a very human illness.
Grim and moving.
Sunday, January 13, 2019
I admit I may be prejudiced about this story because I just finished watching The Kominsky Method on Netflix and in my head I can hear Alan Arkin reciting the whole tale.
In any case Perks has come up with something delightful and hilarious.
Mr. Nowicki is, he tells us, "a seventy-two-two-year-old retired middle school assistant principal who has lived in Grant Park for forty years." He is furious about what is happening in his neighborhood so he has gone to a website called Good Neighbor!(tm) to report what he sees.
And he has strong opinions about that. For example he has a problem with his neighbor who is (the internal quotation marks are his): "a 'writer' who 'works' from home. ('Writer' always takes morning tea on his porch in his pajamas and at five p.m., takes cocktail on porch, still in his pajamas. You've probably seen him on your way to and from actual work.)"
Then there is a young woman, possibly a thief, possibly something else, who claims to be named Jim Hawkins. Takes Mr. Nowicki a while to figure out why.
One more quote from our hero, after he has seen "three apparently Hispanic males, ages approximately eight or nine years old," putting trash in said neighbors "Little Library."
I descend, which takes some time due to bum hip, retrieve plastic bag and 'trash grabber' ($6.47, Amazon Prime, you can read my review, three stars because the sharp tongs are dangerous), exit house, open gate, cross street to nieighbor's 'Little Library" (a glassed-in cabinet painted a glaring aqua, plunked onto a post).
Glad you're taking an interest, Mr. Nowicki.
Monday, January 7, 2019
Chances are you have met someone a bit like Colin Anderson. Chances are you didn't enjoy it much. He's the kind of middle-aged guy who invites you to dinner and makes you look at pictures of his championship college lacrosse team. Oh joy.
Colin is now a successful surgeon but he isn't interested in working hard. He prefers to spend his time being tennis and golf champion at the country club, and spending his wife's money.
But when she finds out what - or who - he is spending the money on, his life takes a sharp sudden turn.
This is a clever story that involves a phenomenon so strange I had to look it up to see if it is real. It is. The delightful twists keep coming straight to the end.
Monday, December 31, 2018
The day I lost my belief was the same day Mrs. Garrick asked me to help kill her husband.
That's the first sentence of this story. If it doesn't make you want to read the second, my word, why are you reading fiction at all?
The narrator is an Irish clergyman, five years a widower. Mrs. Garrick's husband was brutally maimed in a terrorist attack. Our protagonist tries to comfort her and one thing leads to another.
But it isn't the request that he help murder Mr. Garrick that causes the clergyman to lose his faith. It is his conclusion that "There is no sin because there is no God. There is no God because there is only us and our impulses..."
In that case there is nothing to keep him from killing the invalid and living happily ever after with the widow. What could possibly go wrong?
A tight and surprising little tale.