Sunday, September 16, 2018

Problems Aren't Stop Signs, by Robert Mangeot

"Problems Aren't Stop Signs," by Robert Mangeot, in  Mystery Weekly Magazine, September 2018.

This is Mangeot's fourth appearance here.

Tori is the mayor of a small town in the Florida Panhandle, and she has had some bad luck.  Not that it was her fault, of course.  How could she know, when she stole city funds to buy some land, that the state would cancel the project they were planing to build on it?

Obviously there is only one possible solution: convince her useless brother to dress up as a swamp ape and use her female wiles to persuade a local reporter to come out where said monster can be witnessed, thereby bringing a storm of tourists to the site.

Simple, really.  What could possibly go wrong?

Mangeot is one of our foremost writers of funny short crime stories.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Rozotica, by R.M. Greenaway

"Rozotica," by R.M. Greenaway, in The Dame Was Trouble, edited by Sarah L. Johnson, Halli Lilburne, and Cat McDonald, Coffin Hop Press, 2018.

This is a weird story.  By that I do not mean it is science fiction, or supernatural, or falls into all those bins we label "experimental fiction."  It just goes in many unexpected directions.  And that's a good thing.

It's 1973 and Heather is a waitress in Vancouver, B.C.  In fact she has been a waitress since tenth grade, and a virgin for much longer than that, and nothing seems likely to change.

Except for Milestone.  He's a hippy.  He likes her and he has a plan.  "You're the key.  It's your face.  It's perfect."

This is not a compliment, as it turns out.  Milestone has a scam in mind: convincing a bunch of investors that he has the latest thing in sex toys, a female-looking robot straight from Japan.  And Heather's not-quite-normal features make her the ideal prototype.  "You're kind of cold and synthetic looking," Milestone explains.  What girl could resist a come-on like that?

And so, having taken care of the virginity problem, they meet with a gang of pathetic men who are more interested in getting a realistic sex doll than they are in investing a bundle.  What could possibly go wrong?

While you are make a no doubt lengthy list of possible answers to that question, I will explain that several of them are about to happen.  But what makes the story truly interesting is what happens after things go pear-shaped.  I especially enjoyed the conversation near the end by two people trying to make sense of it all.

A fun and imaginative piece.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Rats, by Tom Savage

"Rats," by Tom Savage, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Mystery, September/October 2018.

Are you familiar with the term logline?  Think of the one sentence description of a movie or a TV show you see in TV Guide or Netflix.

Here's a logline for a short story:

A senior citizen combats the bad element that is taking over the neighborhood.

I  have probably read a dozen stories that fit that line. Of course, there are no new plots, just new things to do with the old ones.  Is the senior alone or does he have allies?  What kind of plot does he dream up?  Does he succeed or fail?  I remember decades ago reading a story in which an older woman, tired of having her purse snatched, carried a hand grenade in the purse with a string tied from her wrist to the pin.  A mugger grabbed the purse and three seconds later, BOOM. 

But that's not Savage's idea.  Alice lives in New York City.  She still teaches a few days a week at a middle school.  She lives in a co-op which has always been  neighborly and well-maintained, but recently a dozen apartments were purchased by a Russian mobster.  Worse, he has moved his nephew, "a huge, unkempt, unfriendly, leather-jacketed hell-raiser named Georgi," into one of the apartments.  Things start to go downhill.  Alice's friend Marco, a retired circus performer gets robbed and beaten, and that's not the worst of it.

But when Alice sees the janitor putting out rat poison she gets an idea on how to solve the Georgi problem.  If only she can get Marco to go along with it.

I did not see the ending of this one coming.