Sunday, August 28, 2022

Joey Cacuzza Loses His Election, by Thomas Pluck

 "Joey Cacuzza Loses His Election," by Thomas Pluck, in Low Down Dirty Vote 3, edited by Mysti Berry, Berry Content, 2022.

 This is the third appearance in this space by my friend and fellow SleuthSayer.  

Joey is an enforcer for the New Jersey Mafia.  He is also the lover of it's most important capo, Aldo.  And Aldo wants him to kill a masseuse who could reveal some embarrassing facts about him.  

Problem is, Joey is developing something like a conscience.  The cause of this inconvenience is his niece Nicky, a high school student who is what you might call woke.  She has Joey thinking, not only about the issue of killing a guy only because he might cause a problem, but also about Aldo's support for a mayoral candidate  who is a terrible choice.  

Can Joey resolve these issues and stay alive doing it?  Clever stuff.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

The People All Said Beware, by Christopher Latragna

"The People All Said Beware," by Christopher Latragna, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, September/October 2022.

It's St. Louis, MO, in 1955.  Henry is a professional gambler who works mostly on a steamboat called the Duchess.  One day he learns that the ship will be off-limits on Saturday due, according to rumor, to a mob wedding.

Henry thinks it odd that the management of the ship would close down on the busiest day of the week, so he begins to investigate.

This reminds me of a spy story, although there is not a shred of espionage involved.  Like a classic John LeCarre tale, or a set of matryoshka dolls, each secret exposed only reveals another secret, right up to the end. 

The title is another secret, at least for me, since it is obviously a quotation, but from what?  The answer is perfectly appropriate.   

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Blindsided, by Eric Brown


"Blindsided," by Eric Brown, in The Book of Extraordinary Femme Fatale Stories, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Mango, 2022.  

I have a story in this book.

Emma is a successful writer of suspense novels.  She is also blind.  One day a man named Dan breaks into her house.  At first he seems to be  a fanatical reader, a la Misery, but it turns out to be more complicated and scary than that.

I'm not a big fan of straight suspense stories, although this is a good one.  What made this the winner for the week is a very clever trick Emma plays.  I have never seen it used in fiction before, although it is nicely logical.  A clever twist.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Belle and Donna, by Keith Brooke

"Belle and Donna," by Keith Brooke, in The Book of Extraordinary Femme Fatale Stories, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Mango, 2022.  

I have a story in this book.

It has to be a shock to come home and find the police in your house, investigating a corpse.  Now imagine that the corpse is a man you thought was already dead, "[b]ecause I thought I'd killed him years ago."  

Awkward.  That is the situation Donna finds herself in.  Technically she didn't kill Gavin back then, but he left a suicide note blaming her for his final decision.  But now it appears that that burnt body that was discovered all those years ago was someone else.  And it is definitely Gavin lying in her living room.

Hard to explain to the police.  And made awkward by the fact that Donna had a nervous breakdown after the alleged suicide and, well, doesn't remember all the details.  Like maybe where she was when Gavin died?

A nicely tangled tale.