Showing posts with label malice domestic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label malice domestic. Show all posts

Sunday, November 5, 2017

"The Black Hand," by Peter W.J. Hayes

"The Black Hand," by Peter W.J. Hayes, in  Malice Domestic: Murder Most Historical, edited by Verena Rose, Rita Owen, and Shawn Reilly, Simmons.

It seems like every year or so I have to chide some editors who don't know what a noir story is supposed to be.  Today I feel like I have the same problem in reverse. Sort of.

I am not sure of the definition of a "Malice Domestic" story, but I know this one is not what I expected, or what the rest of the anthology (so far) led me to anticipate.  Hayes' story is not cozy.  It would, on the other hand, would feel quite cozy between the pages of Black Mask, circa 1928, which is around the time it is set.

Brothers Jake and David fought over a girl named Bridgid and Jake left Pittsburgh for logging work in the midwest.  David became a very successful mobster, until his body shows up in a river.

The story begins with Jake coming home to try to discover how his brother died and who is responsible.  The first thing he learns is that Bridgid was murdered a few weeks before, and a lot of people think David killed her.  Is there a connection between the deaths?  Can Jake stay alive long enough to find out?

This is an excellent salute to a classic subgenre of pulp fiction.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Gathering of Great Detectives, by Shawn Reilly Simmons

"A Gathering of Great Detectives," by Shawn Reilly Simmons in Malice Domestic: Murder Most Conventional, edited by Verena Rose, Barb Goffman, and Rita Owen, Wildside Press, 2016.

All the stories in this book take place at conventions, conferences, club meetings, or the like and part of the fun is seeing how the authurs use that.  Simmons features, largely enough, a mystery weekend.

The twist is that all the guests - and hosts - come dressed as great fictional detectives, and are penalized if they dare to speak out of character. Now Inspector Bucket (from Dickens' Bleak House)
has tumbled down a flight of stairs and two genuine cops are trying to figure it out how it happened.

Their big problem is that the suspects and witnesses think they are part of the act and start ringing penalty bells if they try to speak as if this was a real-life event.  Funny, and bizarre.

I may be prejudiced in favor of this story because it reminds me (in a non-plagiarizing way) of my story "Shanks Gets Killed," which also involves a murder weekend and a Maltese Falcon-related prize.  But in any case, Simmons has given us a fun read.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Best Laid Plans, by Barb Goffman

"The Best Laid Plans," by Barb Goffman, in Malice Domestic: Murder Most Conventional, edited by Verena Rose, Barb Goffman, and Rita Owen, Wildside Press, 2016.

My fellow SleuthSayer Barb Goffman has contributed a nice tale to Malice Domestic's latest anthology, which contains stories related to conventions, conferences, and suchlike scenes of murder and mayhem.   Oops, I should have mentioned that this is her second appearance in this column.  I like to keep track of that.)

Including Malice International, the mystery conference to which narrator Eloise Nickel has been invited for a lifetime achievement award.  Should be a thrill but the guest of honor happens to be Kimberly, a former protege who had gone on to fame and "dropped me like a bloody knife." Kimberly takes  gleeful opportunity to do it again in an article published just before the conference.  She compares her own suspenseful novels to Eloise's old-fashioned cozy books, which some the elderly readers still apparently like -  Well, you get the idea.  It ain't pretty.

Eloise starts plotting revenge. Not murder, of course.  Just some dreadful pain and misery for her rival, to be delivered at the conference.

But, alas, that doesn't seem to be as easily done as said.  People keep rescuing Kimberly, purely by accident.  What's a frustrated revenge-planner to do?

The main reason this story made my Best Of column was the surprise - not twist -ending.  A nice little trick provided a satisfying conclusion.