Showing posts with label Three Rooms Press. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Three Rooms Press. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

There's an Alligator in my Purse, by Paul D. Marks

"There's an Alligator in my Purse," by Paul D. Marks, in Florida Happens, edited by Greg Herren, Three Rooms Press, 2018.

The latest Bouchercon anthology is all about that most interesting state in our southeast.  This tale is by my fellow SleuthSayer, Paul D. Marks.

Our narrator is Ed, a cheerful professional.  He likes to satisfy his customers, so he takes lots of photos of the corpses.  Corpses the clients wanted dead, obviously. 

In this case that client is Ashley Smith - the lady with the titular pocket book reptile.  She had expected to inherit a lot of money when her elderly husband died happily due to her enthusiastic ministrations.  When she fond out the dough was going to the first wife, she went looking for someone with Ed's skill set.  It wasn't really his photographic skills that she was interested in...

A breezy tale of multiple conspiracies.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Played to Death, by Bill FItzhugh

"Played to Death," by Bill FItzhugh,  in Crime Plus Music, edited by Jim Fusilli, Three Rooms Press, 2016.

Decades ago I was privileged to hear a panel featuring Stanley Ellin, one of the great authors of mystery short stories.  He declared that stories about murder should not be funny.

During the Q&A I reminded him of his story "The Day the Thaw Came to 127," in which (spoiler alert) the frustrated tenants of a New York apartment building burn their landlord for fuel.

"Well," he replied, "That was wish-fulfillment."

I bring that up because today's story falls into the same category, I think.  Bill Fitzhugh worked in radio before turning to comic crime novels.

Grady, the main character of this story, is one of those guys who tells DJs what they are allowed to play.  Specifically the fewest number of songs they can play over and over and over.  He confronts somebody who is not fond of that format, but does speak Grady's language. 

"You know how it works," the man said.  "We had a good sample of the demographic we're trying to appeal to and we asked what they wanted, and this is what they said.  We're just giving them what they asked for."
"Which is what?"
"Bad news for you, I'm afraid."

 Did I mention the somebody has a gun?

I won't reveal what else happens. Tune back in after the news and sports.
  


Sunday, November 27, 2016

1968 Pelham Blue SG Jr, by Mark Haskell Smith

“1968 Pelham Blue SG Jr.” by Mark Haskell Smith, in Crime Plus Music, edited by Jim Fusilli, Three Rooms Press, 2016.

I tried to resist this story.  I really did.  This led to a loud argument in my head.

-It's not a crime story.
-Of course it is.
-It's not a conventional crime story.
-So?
-But it's weird.
-So?

Quality won out.


Here's what makes it makes it weird: When was the last time you read a story written in first person plural?

You may say "A Rose for Emily," the masterpiece written by William Faulkner. But that story essentially has a standard third person omniscient narrator with just occasional uses of "We" to remind you that this is the community's viewpoint.

In Mark Haskell Smith's story, on the other hand, "We" is very much the main character.  They are (It is?) an over-the-hill rock band, so meshed together that they speak as a unit.  It's a shock when one of the members thinks about quitting and suddenly shifts from "one of us" to "he."

After a gig the band's equipment (including the titular guitar) is stolen but "we couldn't call the police because one of us was supposed to be home with an ankle monitor strapped to our leg."  

So they go off  in search of it.  But single-minded they ain't.  When the hunt takes them to a donut shop the rings of fat and sugar so mesmerize them they forget what they came for.  "We are not detectives," they explain, primly.

No, but they are hilarious.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Long Black Veil, by Val McDermid

"The Long Black Veil," by Val McDermid, in Crime Plus Music, edited by Jim Fusilli, Three Rooms Press, 2016.

Jess lives with relatives because, a decade ago when she was four years old, her mother murdered her father.  That's the official story, but it turns out the truth is a lot more complicated.  "There are worse things to be in small-town America than the daughter of a murderess," says her caretaker.  "So I hold my tongue and settle for silence."

McDermid is a Scottish author but she writes well about "small-town America."  This is a story about privileged rich kids clashing with folks from the poor side of town.  Also about teenagers trying to figure out who they are and coming up with answers that may not please their neighbors. 

I enjoyed this one a lot.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Knock-Out Whist, by David Levien

"Knock-Out Whist," by David Levien, in in Dark City Lights, edited by Lawrence Block, Three Rooms Press, 2015.

This is a story about the levels of life in New York City, and those going up versus those going down.  Jerry Riser - a riser is, of course, one who rises; it is also the part of a step that doesn't get stepped on - is a disgraced ex-cop, reborn as a shady private eye. 

He has just finished a big case for one of the people at the top, causing major trouble for another one, a mayoral candidate.  The politician sends thugs around to find out who hired Riser, and they offer his choice of a beating or a payoff.

He could also use the cash.  On the other hand it was a question of honor, the old vintage.  There were still a few bottles of it left around, and once it was uncorked, it was sticky stuff.

One of the best P.I. stories I have read this year.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Bowery Station, 3:15 A.M., by Warren Moore

"Bowery Station, 3:15 A.M.," by Warren Moore, in Dark City Lights, edited by Lawrence Block, Three Rooms Press, 2015.

A little snippet of  a story, but a memorable one.  The nameless narrator is hanging around one of the least used subway stations in the middle of the night, when...

I saw the girl standing on the Brooklyn bound side of the platform.  You might not have noticed anything, but I saw the firsts clenched at her sides and I saw her lips moving, and I knew what she was gearing up to do.

Can he prevent her from taking her own life?  And if he does, what will happen next?

Worth finding out.