Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Little Big News: Shanks Rides Again

I have a story in the latest (April) issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.  And I write about it today at SleuthSayers.  Enjoy.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Margo and the Silver Cane, by Terence Faherty

"Margo and the Silver Cane," by Terence Faherty, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, January/February  2013.

Last week I saw All Through The Night, a weird movie with an amazing cast (Bogart, Lorre, Phil Silvers, Jackie Gleason, etc.) that starts out as a pretty good comedy and sort of devolves into the Bowery Boys versus the Nazis.  I bring this up because Faherty's plot hits similar territory: a Nazi plot against New York harbor in the days before Pearl Harbor.  I like his story better than the movie, though.

Margo Banning is an ambitious career woman, working as associate producer on a Sunday radio show.  One of the stars is Philip St,  Pierre, a self-proclaimed "radio detective."  And in this week's show he announces that next week he will be revealing the identity of a top German spy.  What follows is a lot of fun and amusingly written.  Take this conversation regarding one of the other performers on the radio show.

"You are not a radio detective?"
"That question takes us into the realm of philosophy.  Or do I mean psychology?  Are we who we decide to be or who the world tells us to be?  For example, I work with a woman who has forced her will upon the world.  She's become a former Broadway star despite the inconvenience of never having been a current one."
"Mamie Gallagher," Edelweiss said a little wistfully.  "She has a very attractive voice.  I imagine her blonde."
"So does she." 

The ending clearly hints at more adventures to come.  I look forward to them.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Diamonds Aren't Forever, by Raymond Goree

"Diamonds Aren't Forever," by Raymond Goree, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine,  January/February 2013.

Raymond Goree's first story made my best-of-the-year list last week, so I was delighted to see his second story appear.  It isn't as stunning as his debut, but it is a lot of fun.

Simon Kline is a jeweler, and a very careful man.  His store is encased in steel-impregnated polymer epoxy.  His in-store cameras are linked to his BlackBerry so he can check for intruders without stepping out of his car.  A very careful man.

But this a crime story, so we know something is going to happen.  But exactly what, ah, that's where the twists come.  Clever, amusing story. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Halley's Comet, by Reed Farrel Coleman

"Halley's Comet," by Reed Farrel Coleman, in Crime Square, edited by Robert J. Randisi, Vantage Point, 2012.

I'm a sucker for themed anthologies and this is a good one.  The stories, in chronological order, take place in and around Times Square from 1912 to the present day.  Fun to see the area go upscale and down as time passes.  I highly recommend "The Devil's Face," by Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens, and "The Sailor in the Picture," by Eileen Dreyer.

But the favorite, for the second time in as many months, is by Reed Farrel Colman.  The setting is the 1970s, the time of Serpico and the Knapp Commission, when the NYPD was full of dirty cops and the dirty cops were full of fear of the Knapp Commission.  In this story two police detectives are being pushed into a n action that will move them  from being bent to being totally rotten.  And just as the point of no return approaches, well, police work intervenes.  A wild and twisty climax ensues.  Very satisfactory. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Rose Collection, by Louisa Clerici

"The Rose Collection," by Louisa Clerici, in Dead Calm: Best New England Crime Stories 2012, edited by Mark Ammons, Katherine Fast, Barbara Ross, LeslieWheeler, published by Level Best Books, 2012.

Some weeks I can't find a single story I like.  Some weeks, on the other hand,  there is an embarrassment of riches.  Take this book (and really, what's the idea of calling an anthology of new stuff the "Best" stories?  That's cheating.)

I thought "Plain Vanilla" by Michael Nethercott would make a fine choice for the week.  But before I hit the weekend I read "Boxed" by Daniel Moses Luft. And then along came this little character study by Louisa Clerici, which knocked them both out of competition.

Obsession is either comic or tragic, depending on how close you are standing to the fallout.  The narrator is Laura, a woman who lives a pleasant if slightly stir-crazy life in rural Indiana.  Her life is changed when an elderly neighbor leaves her a piece of costume jewelry: a brooch that was "all sparkly with a pale gold intricate rose."  Get used to detailed description, because Laura provides them for whatever she thinks is interesting, while glossing over things she considers less important.  And that, you might say, provides the key to her character.

Laura starts studying about jewelry at the library and discovers that the best chance to get more is a big flea market in Cumberland, Indiana. Problem is her husband doesn't want her to go.  That doesn't turn out to be a problem for long, because he dies.  In fact, it is best not to get between Laura and her jewelry plans.

Some people say that in genre literature the plot matters more than the language, while in mainstream literature it is the opposite.  In this story the language is the plot.