Monday, December 26, 2022

The Sounds of Silence, by Gabriel Valjan

 "The Sounds of Silence," by Gabriel Valjan, in Paranoia Blues: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Paul Simon, edited by Josh Pachter, Down and Out Books, 2022.

It is New York City in 1977, the summer of Sam.  There is a murderer loose; not the Son of Sam.  This killer is targeting Asians in subway tunnels.  Police Detective Joseph Burrow figures out what's going on, largely because of his experiences during the Vietnam War. 

But the war has left him with more than just useful experience: it has damaged his hearing.  Can he can keep his career as a cop wearing hearing aids?  Can he function without them?  What if even they don't help?

A clever story of a man trying to solve a life-and-death problem while coping with his own crisis.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

This Night in Question, by Tod Goldberg

"This Night in Question," by Tod Goldberg,in Witnesses for the Dead, edited by Gary Phillips and Gar Anthony Haywood, Soho Press, 2022. 

This is Goldberg's third appearance in this column.

Cecil, the narrator, is a third generation mobster in California.  The police show him a video of his daughter being beaten by an ex-lover, who then takes her and her own daughter away.  

Cecil assumes his child is dead.  The police are searching for the culprit and the child but Cecil has his own investigation to conduct, and it's not limited by any rulebook.  

This is a grim story but it is believable and well-written.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Spiders and Fly, by Gary Phillips


"Spiders and Fly," by Gary Phillips, in Witnesses for the Dead, edited by Gary Phillips and Gar Anthony Haywood, Soho Press, 2022. 

This is the second time Phillips has appeared on this site.

A nice suspense story, told in an interesting manner.  We start in media res, to get all fancy, with Cresston running for his life.  Then we see how he got into that mess.  And then what led to that.  After that we return to his desperate chase.

Seems Cresston saw something nobody was supposed to see.  A murder.  And worse, the killers were cops.  Better keep running, pal.

He winds up with a surprising (and surprisingly resourceful) ally.  And then the story takes a turn I never expected.


Saturday, December 3, 2022

Street Versus the Stalker, by Pam Barnsley


"Street Versus the Stalker," by Pam Barnsley, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, November/December 2022.

A modest little story that gets most things right.

Gina is an inner-city teacher and a genuinely nice person, the kind who makes friends easily with people you and I might cross the street to avoid.

When some of these folks notice a van following her in a suspicious manner they react, much like antibodies to an infection.  But they are busy and not the best organized crowd, so it is not certain whether the good guys will win...

Nice writing, too. Here is a description of the woman who runs a produce store:

Ava rattled off the math for the oranges under her breath, offered a discount, entered the amount in the cash register, loaded oranges into Gina's cloth bag, nudged a box of apples back into place with her hip, held the portable credit-card machine for Gina to swipe, scratched her shin with her running shoe, and tilted her head to watch the street.

No wonder her grandson says she has ADHD.

I enjoyed this tale a lot.