Sunday, October 25, 2020

Goon #4, by Tod Goldberg

 "Goon #4," by Tod Goldberg, in The Darkling Halls of Ivy, edited by Lawrence Block, LB Productions, 2020.

It makes sense that this story appears in an anthology edited by Lawrence Block because the main character reminds me of Block's meditative hitman, Keller.

Goon #4 (his mama named him Blake) is an ex-military thug, now specializing in high-risk assignments, bodyguarding bad guys or making bad guys wish, in one final moment, that they had hired bodyguards.

Blake has made enough money to retire.  But what to do now?  He decides to go to college and winds up, more or less by accident, in a class on radio performing.  Here he is pondering the building in which the class is taught:

Whole place was maybe 2,500 square feet and could be attacked from about twenty-nine different angles.  A totally unsafe spot to conduct an op... but Blake guessed it was probably fine for learning.

So Blake may be has a little trouble separating his past life from his current one.  And when a professor gives him an assignment, rest assured that he takes all assignments seriously.  Perhaps too seriously...

A fun and quirky story.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Alt-AC, by Warren Moore

 "Alt-AC," by Warren Moore, in The Darkling Halls of Ivy, edited by Lawrence Block, LB Productions, 2020.

This is the second appearance here by Warren Moore.  It ranges between the amusing and startling.

I may be prejudiced in favor of this tale because I am both an academic and the father of an academic, so I sympathize with both generations represented here.

Roger Patterson possesses a newly minted PhD. in medieval English.  He has been in Kalamazoo for the annual conference on medieval studies and he offers a Senior Scholar a trip to the airport.  Beggs, the Senior Scholar, turns out to be a historian, with a comfy job of the kind Patterson will probably never get.

Patterson is on the market (a phrase that  "made him feel like a haunted house.  Or a slightly bruised avocado") at a time when there are over a hundred people applying for every position.  He is likely to wind up teaching at  "the Swamp County School of Mortuary Science and Transmission Repair."   Or worse he may need to find an alternative to academia, the dreaded "Alt-AC."

The writing is hilarious but I found myself thinking: this is a book of crime stories.  So somebody has to get naughty, right?  Don't worry.  Somebody does.

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Whole Story, by Andrew Welsh-Huggins


"The Whole Story," by Andrew Welsh-Huggins, in Black Cat Mystery Magazine, Issue 7, 2020.

This is the second appearance here by this author.

Hayes is a private eye with a strange assignment.  Bobby Putnam is in prison for driving drunk, resulting in the death of his daughter.  He doesn't deny the crime but he wants Hayes to confirm his impression that the driver whose truck he hit was not looking at him.  His eyes, Putnam insists, were on a man across the street,  man who vanished before the cops arrived.

Not that it would have changed Putnam's guilt.   But he is desperate to know if he's right about this one niggling detail about the event that destroyed his life.

Of course there turns out to be more to this clever story.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Chum in the Water, by Lori Roy

 "Chum in the Water," by Lori Roy, in Tampa Bay Noir, edited by Colette Bancroft, Akashic Press, 2020.

Ms Roy knows her noir, no doubt about that.

Dale is a building contractor and house flipper and he has run into a bad season made worse by bad luck and bad choices.  One of those choices was borrowing a ton of money from Chum Giordano.  Chum has a reputation for not taking kindly to deadbeats.

But on the positive side of the ledger Dale has two items.  His house is about to sell, which will take care of his debt.  And there is an attractive new bartender in his favorite bar who is showing an interest in him.  

Sounds good!  What could possibly go wrong?

Oh yeah.  This is noir...