Monday, October 15, 2018

The Threshold, by R.M. Greenaway

"The Threshold," by R.M. Greenaway, in Vancouver Noir, edited by Sam Wiebe, Akashic Press, 2018.

This is the second story by R.M. Greenaway to make this page in two months.  She seems to be having a good year.

"The collection is called City. That's all.  City. Lot of structure, not a lot of people shots, 'cause that's been done to death.  But they're in there, like puzzle pieces, just part of the chain-link right?  Or the asphalt, or the puddles.  Except for on the cover I've got an old guy..."

The speaker is Blaine and as you may have guessed he's a photographer.  Perhaps a bit obsessive about it.  And one morning, just at sunrise, he's out snapping pictures at the waterfront and he find a very fresh corpse.  Of course he knows he should call 911, but the lighting is perfect, and how long will it last?  Surely it won't hurt if he just changes lenses and takes a couple of artful frames...

And then the dead man twitches.

I'm going to stop here.  This is a masterful story and I don't want to give anything away.


Monday, October 8, 2018

Mr. Sugarman Visits The Bookmobile, by Michael Bracken

"Mr. Sugarman Visits The Bookmobile," by Michael Bracken, in Shhh... Murder!, edited by Andrew MacRae, Darkhouse Books, 2018.

This is the fifth appearance in this column by winner of the Golden Derringer Award and fellow SleuthSayer Michael Bracken.  It is mostly a very nice character sketch.

Graham Sugarman lives in Quarryville, a "dried-out scab of a town" in West Texas.  The highlight of his week is Tuesday morning when the bookmobile arrives. Because he is only allowed to check out five books per visit he takes the heftiest ones available. 

When asked if he has any plans he replies: "Same as always.  I plan to read."  And that's pretty much all he does.

You might get the feeling Mr. Sugarman is not quite normal.  You're right.  The reason for that turns out to be quite interesting. 

But his very regular life is interrupted when the librarian who drives the bookmobile is murdered, stopping his service...

The third act is not as strong here as the earlier ones, but Mr. Sugarman is an interesting and believable character.



Monday, October 1, 2018

Eight Game-Changing Tips on Public Speaking, by Sheena Kamal

"Eight Game-Changing Tips on Public Speaking," by Sheena Kamal, in Vancouver Noir, edited by Sam Wiebe, Akashic Press, 2018.  

Mags is writing a note to her boss whom she does not like very much.  Since he does a lot of public speaking and is not so good at it, she offers him some friendly advice.  Well, maybe not so friendly.

2. Use the stage, but don't pace.  It makes you look like an asshole when you do that.  All those years you spent dodging the homeless and the addicts on Hastings has [sic] made you surprisingly agile for a man your age but you don't need to advertise this during your speeches.  Plus, your fashion sense can't hold up to that kind of scrutiny... 

Turns out her boss has a whole lot of dirty secrets.  Turns out Mags, his much mistreated executive assistant, knows all of them.  And the worm has begun to turn.

A charming tale of revenge.