Saturday, August 26, 2023

Your 10th Bond Is Free!, by Wendall Thomas

 "Your 10th Bond Is Free!, by Wendall Thomas, Crime Under the Sun, A Sisters in Crime Anthology, edited by Matt Coyle, Naomi Hirahara, and Tammy Kaehler, Down and Out Books, 2023. 

Ava is struggling to keep the family business afloat after her father's death.  The business happens to be As You Were Bail Bonds.  This means that as she grew up her family friends were cops and petty criminals.  Petty because her father didn't have enough money to bail out, say murderers.

Our business model depended on aspirational, incompetent criminals accused of crimes with a bail amount  under twenty-five grand.

I love that word aspirational.

When her business card is found in a homicide victim's pocket Ava's life and career are endangered.  A quirky story that provides a new look at the bail bond business.


Saturday, August 19, 2023

The Regular, by James Thorpe


"The Regular," by James Thorpe, in Crime Under the Sun, A Sisters in Crime Anthology, edited by Matt Coyle, Naomi Hirahara, and Tammy Kaehler, Down and Out Books, 2023. 

Ray is drinking more than he should  His wife is gone and that led to him making a bad mistake.  What's worse is that Veronica knows about it.  She is the pianist at the bar where Ray does his too-much-drinking.

And, ironically, she starts nagging him just like his wife did toward the end of their marriage.  Why doesn't he demand a promotion?  He needs to make more money...

Just like his wife, except that Veronica's motive is different.  That link between pianist and wife is the amusing spark that kept me turning pages, but there are many clever twists to come in this neat little tale.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Making the Bad Guys Nervous, by Joseph S. Walker


"Making the Bad Guys Nervous," by Joseph S. Walker, in Black Cat Weekly, #102.

This is Walker's third appearance in my column this year.  It is his  tenth overall, which ties him with Terence Faherty and Mark Thielman at the top of the pantheon, for the moment.

Tim Chadwick is a disgraced ex-cop who sometimes fills the times between drinks by doing some unlicensed private eye work. (cough cough Scudder? cough cough).

A client is worried that his mother's suburban neighborhood is being plagued with porch pirates - people stealing packages left by delivery workers.  He wants the bad guys caught before they escalate to violence and he is willing to pay Tim to put a week into it.

So Tim finds himself sitting in the living room of Sandy, the client's mother, peering out the window, eating her sandwiches, and listening to her attempt to play the piano.

"Is that Springsteen?"

"If you're feeling generous."

It's a low-key story that shifts to a low-key sort of violence.  Very clever.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Lenny, but not Corky, by Daniel Stashower


"Lenny, but not Corky," by Daniel Stashower,  in Cleveland Noir, edited by Michael Ruhlman and Miesha Wilson Headen, Akashic Press, 2023.

The publisher sent me a copy of this book.

Cleveland rocks.  There are a lot of good stories in this anthology.

Some stories are primarily about plot, others about character. This one is about style.

The narrator is talking to a reporter, "you." We never hear her speak, just Anders' reaction to her questions.  

We learn that she is writing an article about the disappearance of a paper boy fifty years earlier.  Everyone refers to him as a boy, but he was actually nineteen.  Anders and his wife were hippies and they were close friends with the kid.  They could have been the last people to see him alive, except they had had a fight.  The guy who wrote a book about the disappearance "the great and all-knowing Julian Story," Anders calls him, made it look as if it was Anders' fault, that if hehad been there the boy might have been saved.

Anders doesn't like Julian Story or the book, and he thinks this article may be his last chance to spell things out.

If you have to drag all this up again, at least let me tell it my way, like you said.  No, I'm not bitter... 

Oh, he's bitter, all right.  And he has a fine story to tell.