Showing posts with label SHMM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SHMM. Show all posts

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Clown at Midnight, by Marc Bilgrey

"A Clown at Midnight," by Marc Bilgrey, in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, #22.

I have talked before about the characteristics my favorite stories tend to have in common.  One is "heightened language," by which I mean that the words do something more than just get you from the beginning to the end of the tale.  Usually that means high-falutin' talk, but in this case, it is the flat, declarative sentences that Bilgrey uses to ground us in a bizarre tale.

Stevens asked Jack if he knew what time it was.  Jack shrugged and said that he thought it was about ten thirty.  Stevens told him it was eleven and that the store opened at ten.  Stevens frowned and said that had this been an isolated incident...

 Jack dreams of a creepy clown.  He has done it all his life: a recurring nightmare of a clown who chases him and tries to strangle him.  This has ruined his life, destroying his sleep, which loses him jobs, ruins relationships, etc.   Various treatments have been no help at all.

A friend suggests a hypnotist who helps him find the root of the problem: an actual assault when he was seven.  With some clever research he figures out who that clown had been.  Now, what to do about it?

It might be time to remember the old saying, supposedly from Confucius, about what you should do before you seek revenge...

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Perfesser and the Kid, by Roberta Rogow

"The Perfesser and the Kid," by Roberta Rogow, in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, issue 19, 2016.

This story takes place on the day of Nikola Tesla's funeral.  An aging politician decides to entertain the gathered reporters with the true story of the great inventor's first day in America.

We know that Tesla was robbed on the ship and stepped onto dry land with four cents in his pocket.   The official version says that he then met a man on the street with a broken machine and fixed it on the spot, thereby earning his first dollar on these shores.

Our politician-narrator begs to disagree.  He was a newsboy at the time and he tells a very different story involving a pool hall, a gang of street toughs, and Tammany Hall.

My favorite part is a scene near the end when Tesla solemnly pays his debts.  I can only say: I have known people like that.

There is a clever twist at the end of the story.  I enjoyed it a lot.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Discovery, by Meg Opperman

"The Discovery," by Meg Opperman, in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Issue 18, 2015.

Celeste is a young woman studying at a university in her native Venezuela.  She meets an American professor named Robert, marries him, and moves to Washington, D.C.  Things go downhill from there.

Robert is  a classic abusive, controlling, husband.  Celeste's every move is watched, her phone calls monitored.  When her bus home is late she is beaten. 

My favorite line in the story?  Reaching into a hand-carved box, I sort through the gold jewelry and select Robert's latest apology.

But what makes this story more than just a tale of domestic misery is that each scene is prefaced with a quotation from Christopher Columbus's letters or logbooks, describing his encounters with the natives of the new world.  It is no accident that Celeste and Robert get married on Columbus Day.  I can't imagine how much work went into finding the appropriate texts for each scene.

Very moving story.  

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Red Jacks Wild, by Kim Newman

"Red Jacks Wild," by Kim Newman, in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Issue 17, 2015.

You could argue that this is not the best mystery story I read this week.  At approximately ten thousand words it's more like a novella.  And you could say it's fantasy/horror rather than mystery.

Don't care. 

In any case, it's in a mystery magazine, and a series of murders are solved, and if you don't like that you can start your own review blog.  So there.

I try not to reveal the plot but there is a lot of premise here to explain before we get to the plot.

The narrator is John Carmody, a psychologist in New York in 1951.  He also happens to be Jack the Ripper.

Wait a minute, you say.  He'd have to be a hundred years old. 

Well, he is.  But he looks the same age he did in the 1880s when he started making human sacrifices to Hecate.  Which he still does, every three years.

But not prostitutes every time.  He alters his "disposables-"  And now we come to the first thing I love about this story.

You may be familiar with the theory that popular horror movies are the ones that capture the zeitgeist - I might say the frightgeist - the main thing that people of the time are scared of.  So right after World War II we had Godzilla and other monsters created by nuclear radiation.  At the height of the Cold War we had Invasion of the Body Snatchers in which your best friend or neighbor might turn out to be the enemy!  When AIDS made blood a scary thing Dracula made a big comeback.  I lieave it up to you to decide what the current popularity of brain-seeking zombies means.

My point is that this Jack the Ripper understands the concept.

In New Orleans in 1909 I tok colored children.  They called me the Voo-Doo Man.  The cops didn't listen to the parents until I was done.  In California in 1933, as the Hobo Hacker, I picked on jobless transients.  Last time, the Red Knife, preyed on card-carrying communists...

Carmody picks the people we don't care about.   And, as the FBI's favorite shrink, he gets to steer them to the wrong killers.  But now someone is slaughtering juvenile delinquents - surely a classic "disposable" in America of the 1950s - and it isn't him.

It seems to have something to do with his most famous patient, a publisher of horror comics, who is being tormented by another psychoanalyst, who blames the comics for all the nations ills.  Yes, this story is all about America's twisted psyche, and I loved it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Killing of General Patton, by William E. Chambers

"The Killing of General Patton," by William E. Chambers, in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, issue 12, 2014.  

Burton Wells is a veteran of World War II, during part of which he served as an aid to General George Patton.  In current times he is haunted by nightmares about Patton's death in a jeep accident shortly after the war attended.  And he has reasons for those nightmares.

Things get worse when a young Ukrainian shows up at Wells' apartment.  He has a fat file of KGB secrets and a plan to get rich with them... 

Mr. Chambers has written an intriguing story.  I wonder if he was aiming for the MWA anthology of cold war stories?  It would have been a good fit there.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Double, by Janice Law

"The Double" by Janice Law in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Issue 7

My friend Janice has created a little gem here, I think.

Malik has the fortune, good or bad, of resembling the General, his country's beloved dictator.  Naturally he is assigned the job of impersonating the General, saving him from boring meetings and assassingation attempts.

But the General is a far-thinker and he sends Malik, with proper supervision, to set up a new life for himself in Miami, just in case at some time in the future the General turns out not to be so beloved.  And that works fine until the inevitable happens.

Because only one person can live that new life, right?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Premature Murder, by Michael Mallory

"The Premature Murder," by Michael Mallory, in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Issue 7.

I have indicated before I am a sucker for stories that try to rethink some elements of our genre's history.  My old friend Michael Mallory does a fine job in this story.

The time is 1852, the place is Baltimore, and the narrator (anonymous, unless I missed his name somewhere along the line) is a new recruit for a private detective agency, trying to prove he is good for more than filing papers and fetching growlers of beer.

In a bar one night he meets a potential client, a down-on-his-luck actor who wants him to investigate the mysterious death of the actor's estranged son, one Edgar Allan Poe...

The story is full of detail and atmospheric language (our hero doesn't carry a pocket watch, he carries a repeater.  The gun in the story is a Philadelphia Deringer, spelled correctly for once.)  A treat, all in all.

This is my first encounter with Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, and I am enjoying it, but I resent paying for the twenty pages that repeat a Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle.  Don't most of us already have a copy of those books?