Monday, June 27, 2022

Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School, by Brian Thornton

 "Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School," by Brian Thornton, in Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Warren Zevon, edited by Libby Cudmore and Art Taylor, Down and Out Books, 2022.

My friend and fellow SleuthSayer Brian Thornton has written something unusual and strangely familiar. 

The story takes place during prohibition in a Western mining town. The narrator is an unnamed private detective, working for an equally unnamed agency.  His boss is the Old Man.

If you are familiar with the classics of our field you already know which author is being saluted here (or, if you prefer, ripped off).  It's a good story, although I prefer the more elaborate version of this game that  Evan Lewis did a few years ago.

I suppose the moral is, if you don't give your protagonist a name it is not hard for an other author to borrow him.

Getting back to the story, our nameless hero is spending a week in a brothel, because the agency has heard that a guy they are looking for might drop by.  The target does show up, with a gun, and things get complicated.  I liked the ending a lot.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Chinook, by Thomas King


"Chinook," by Thomas King, in The Perfect Crime, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Harper Collins, 2022.

"You used to be a cop," said Al. "So you know one end of the bull from the other."

"And now I'm a landscape photographer," said Thumps. "A hungry landscape photographer."

All Thumps DreadfulWater wants to do is sit in Al's cafe and eat his breakfast but the sheriff of Chinook, wants his help investigating a death.  It happens to be one of those crimes where suspects are all too plentiful.  Sonny Martell was not a nice man.

"Could be someone shot him with a silver bullet," said Duke.

"That's for werewolves," said Thumps.

The sheriff set the parking brake and opened the door.  "Or put a stake through his heart."

"That's for vampires."

Duke nodded.  "With Sonny, it would be best to cover all bases."

The dialog is excellent (when the coroner learns that Sonny is the corpse she says "Somedays I love my job") and the plot makes a convoluted sort of sense.  A lot of fun.


Monday, June 13, 2022

Jumping Ship, by Oyinkan Braithwaite


 "Jumping Ship," by Oyinkan Braithwaite, in The Perfect Crime, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Harper Collins, 2022.

Ida is a photographer, specializing in baby pictures.  Her boyfriend wants her to take photos of his new baby.  Only catch is, it will be at his house and his wife will be there.  She doesn't know Ida is sleeping with her hubby.

What could possibly go wrong?

It's a creepy story, with Ida full of misgivings about taking a dubious request from a guy who likes to push her boundaries way too much.  And things start to wrong in very weird ways.

By the way, no harm comes to the baby. 

Monday, June 6, 2022

A Murder of Brides, by Sulari Gentill

 "A Murder of Brides," by Sulari Gentill, in The Perfect Crime, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Harper Collins, 2022.

 We're in Australia in the 1920s.  Gus and Harriet make a precarious living as traveling photographers.  They specialize in brides and grooms, but since they only hit a town every few months they are taking pictures of recent newlyweds, not the actual nuptials.  They "advertise a pledge to deliver a wedding portrait while the couple was still in love."

Today a policeman asks them to photograph the scene of a brutal murder.  Fortunately for the cops they have a ready-made suspect, and he's even a Chinese servant.  Who will quarrel with such a simple solution?  Only the photographers see a flaw...

The special treat in this story is the guest who is traveling around with our heroes.  He's a writer and you might say he has a bit of an obsession.  His identity is not exactly a secret, but I won't spoil it for you.