Sunday, February 25, 2024

Mall Cop Christmas Parade, by Joslyn Chase

 "Mall Cop Christmas Parade," by Joslyn Chase, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, January/February  2024.

'Tis the merry season in California and Bradford Hines has a ticket to get back to his family in Maryland.  But he's in a busy mall and before he can grab that plane he wants to grab a wallet out of a man's jacket.  

That part's easy, but Brad is not as  smooth a pickpocket as he thinks and a female security guard catches him in the act.  But is she really a security guard? 

This is a wonderfully convuluted story full of wrong turns, twists, and back flips. I enjoyed it a lot.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Mexican Radio, by Pete Barnstrom

 "Mexican Radio," by Pete Barnstrom, in Mystery Magazine, February 2024.

I have to start by offering my thanks to Mystery Magazine.  When they told me my story would be on the cover they offered to send me an e-copy.  I didnt ask for one since I already had an e-subscription, if that's a word.  But after I read the issue and was ready to write this review, through the miracle of technology and no doubt my own carelessness, the magazine had e-vanished.  I wrote to the publishers and in less than two hours, on a Sunday afternoon, no less, I had the copy I needed. Fast work!

Now, onto the story.

Marteens is a Los Angeles private eye in the 1950s.  He has flown to Michigan to meet a possible client, a disc jockey named Herb Campuss.  Herb works for (or possibly owns) one of those stations that can be heard virtually coast to coast.  It broadcasts from Mexico where stations are allowed a slightly louder signal.

Herb wants Marteens to drive to El Paso and give an envelope apparently full of cash to the love of his life, who  happens to be married to another man, a man who also may own the radio station.  Is this about love?  Or money? Or are there other motives involved?

Barnstrom has weaved a very tangled web and you will enjoy getting tangled in it. 

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Destroyer of Worlds, by dbschlosser


"Destroyer of Worlds," by dbschlosser, in Black Cat Weekly, 127.

Tanner is a homicide cop with an enviable record of clearing cases.  Unfortunately a lot of that is due to his partner.  Not his official partner, but the unofficial one who has embedded herself in his life.  Her name is Vishnu or, if you prefer, Death.

Yes, Death, in the form of a beautiful woman, shows up every time Tanner starts on a case.  Why? She won't explain.  In fact, she says if she told him too much it would mean the end.  The end as in, well, notice the title of the story.

I feel like I may be making this sound comic.  It isn't.  The story is serious and the explanation of what's going on is more logical, less fantastical than you might expect.  I enjoyed it a lot.   

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Better Than A Dating App, by V.S. Kemanis

 "Better Than A Dating App," by V.S. Kemanis, in Mystery Magazine, February 2024.

Sum up a mystery story in one word: Suspenseful. Intriguing.  Amusing. Outrageous. 

In this case the word is: charming.

Benny is a pickpocket, and probably has other nefarious habits as well.  He has decided to move to New York and boards a plane, where he encounters a woman who, well, let's say they share certain interests.  Could this be the start of a beautiful if criminous relationship?

It's not my job to suggest titles to authors but... As I read this story I had somehow decided that the title of this one was just plain "Dating App."  I actually liked that more.

I enjoyed the gamesmanship very much.