Monday, June 24, 2019
Spirit River Dam, by Susan Daly
There is art forgery, of course, but there is also art fraud.
What would you do if you found a painting that appears in every way to be a fine example of a painting by a famous (and profitable) artist - except for the tiny detail that it is dated a few years after his death? What if that date is in pencil and easy to erase?
That's the dilemma faced by art dealer Imogen when her ex-husband shows up with a painting he inherited from his late mother. Just a little erasure will make the painting a treasure! What could possibly go wrong?
For an answer, please see the title of the anthology.
The story has a very clever surprise.
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Ladies Day at the Olympia Car Wash, by Andrew Nette
Welcome to Australia. The narrator works at a car wash, a job his friend Buddha got him as a reward for not fingering him after an unsuccessful robbery. Buddha wants to try another crime but our hero, having been burned with a term in prison is shy about trying again. Then a woman comes to the car wash, needing some special treatment for her vehicle...
This story is mostly about mood. For example:
Just after nine and already the temperature is in the early thirties according to the announcer on the classic hits radio station that gets piped through the speaker on the office wall.
"Going to be a hot one today," I say, trying to change the subject.
"Yeah, suppose so." Buddha drops his half-smoked nail on the ground next to the grey tray of dirty sand labelled Please deposit cigarette butts here.
Sunday, June 9, 2019
'Mocking Season, by Christi Clancy
The publisher sent me an advance reading copy of this book.
This is a disturbing story, and I mean that as a compliment. Here is how it starts:
Back when there were still trees in Whitefish Bay, the boys started sleeping in the hammocks they hung from them.
All sorts of things are foreshadowed in that simple sentence.
Whitefish Bay is apparently a pleasant bit of suburbia until it disturbed by the arrival of Erin, who we might perhaps call a middle-aged hippy. She lived in the one home that was not visible from the street, which disturbs the keepers of community norms, "the mothers," who feel that "It didn't seem right to live where you couldn't be seen."
More importantly, her son Leif was so charismatic that all the boys in the neighborhood start to copy him - including 'mocking, or sleeping outdoors in hammocks. They also take up marimba, an instrument at which Leif is expert.
But what disturbs the mothers even more is that Erin lets her yard run wild. While everyone else is battling bugs and weeds with ever increasing doses of of chemicals, she listens to her boyfriend Cody, a horticulturalist who takes a more organic route. This leads to conflict which leads to, well. other things.
You may say that the reactions of some of the characters are unrealistic, but that is precisely what makes the story so disturbing. It reminded me of a certain novel and a certain short story, but that would be giving away too much.
A fine story.
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Up Day Down Day Deadly Day, by Ellen Larson
This is Larson's second appearance here.
I have written here before about didactic mysteries, tales which teach you about some subject as you enjoy the story. This is a good example.
The narrator is the police chief of a small town in New York. He has joined a group called the Slim Janes, not for professional reasons, but to watch his diet. Oops! Don't call it a diet. They call it a Way of Eating, or WOE.
And he is learning so much about WOEs that his head is swimming, but then he is called away on a case. Becca, one of the groups leaders, is hospitalized after a bad reaction to food. Allergy? Poison? Shoddy vegan supplements?
To get to the bottom of it all the chief has to learn a lot about how different diets work. It's clever, informative, and best of all, the solution really does depend on what he learns.
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