Showing posts sorted by relevance for query bracken. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query bracken. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mr. Private Eye Behind the Motel with a .38, by Michael Bracken

"Mr. Private Eye Behind the Motel with a .38," by Michael Bracken, in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, edited by Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks, Down & Out Books, 2017.

What a long story title.  This, by the way, is Bracken's third appearance in this column. It takes place in Waco, Texas, where Blake is a former cop (he arrested the son of the wrong millionaire) turned private eye.  Mrs. Watkins hired him to get proof that her fat rich husband is cheating on her.  She might want more from Blake than just that.

And so might Ashley, a wealthy blond he meets in downtown,  near the food trucks.  For one thing, she would like to accompany him on a case... We will leave it there, I think.  It's a good story.

But let's talk about the art of building an anthology.  There is a story earlier in this book that, shall we say, runs from Point A to Point B, with B being the revelation of a particular plot device.

Bracken's story includes the same device, but it runs past it to Point C.  (Which does not automatically make it a better story, by the way.)

If the editors had put Bracken's story earlier on than the other tale would be a disappointment.  But by running it first the alert reader says "Ah, I see where Bracken is going" - and is pleasantly surprised when he goes past it.  So, good job, editors.





Monday, October 8, 2018

Mr. Sugarman Visits The Bookmobile, by Michael Bracken

"Mr. Sugarman Visits The Bookmobile," by Michael Bracken, in Shhh... Murder!, edited by Andrew MacRae, Darkhouse Books, 2018.

This is the fifth appearance in this column by winner of the Golden Derringer Award and fellow SleuthSayer Michael Bracken.  It is mostly a very nice character sketch.

Graham Sugarman lives in Quarryville, a "dried-out scab of a town" in West Texas.  The highlight of his week is Tuesday morning when the bookmobile arrives. Because he is only allowed to check out five books per visit he takes the heftiest ones available. 

When asked if he has any plans he replies: "Same as always.  I plan to read."  And that's pretty much all he does.

You might get the feeling Mr. Sugarman is not quite normal.  You're right.  The reason for that turns out to be quite interesting. 

But his very regular life is interrupted when the librarian who drives the bookmobile is murdered, stopping his service...

The third act is not as strong here as the earlier ones, but Mr. Sugarman is an interesting and believable character.



Sunday, August 6, 2017

Smoked, by Michael Bracken



"Smoked," by Michael Bracken, in Noir at the Salad Bar, eidte by Verena Rose, Harriette Sacker, and SHawn Reilly Simmons, Level Best Books, 2017.

This is Bracken's fourth appearance in this space, which puts him in the top five repeat offenders, I believe.

Beau James had built a nice life for himself, operating the Quarryville Smokehouse, and living with a girlfriend and her daughter.  When his restaurant is featured in a magazine with his picture he knows that the good times are over.  He is in the Witness Protection Program and the motorcycle gang he turned state evidence against are bound to see the picture...

The story takes place in modern Texas but it has the feeling of an old-fashioned Western, with the bad guys getting closer and the townsfolk having to decide where they stand.  A good story.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sugar, by Michael Bracken

"Sugar," by Michael Bracken, Crime Syndicate, Issue 2, 2016.

I would say any writer who appears in this space twice in a year can think he's having a good year.  That's not ego on my part; I would be happy if any non-relative thought I scored twice in one spin around the sun.

Mr. Bracken is making his second appearance at Little Big Crimes this month.

This story is about Samuel "Sugar" Cane, a Texas thug who has worked, since he was a crooked high school football player, for a crime boss named De La Rosa.  As he goes about his daily work of collecting debts for the big man he meets a woman whose mother used to be his lover.  Hmm..

A popular topic in writing circles is first person versus third.  This story would be much less powerful if it were in first, or if we could tell what'd going on in Sugar's head.  We ave to figure it out, which keeps the suspense high.

This story reminds me of Michael Koryta's "A People Person," which I wrote about here back in 2013.  Both are about a thorough-going baddie who finds himself unexpectedly facing a line he may not be willing to cross.

And both are terrific stories.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Chase Your Dreams, by Michael Bracken

"Chase Your Dreams," by Michael Bracken, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, June 2016.

A very touching story by this year's winner of the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for lifetime achievement in the mystery short story.

Picture a small town in Texas, one so set in its ways that the whites and blacks still use seperate cemeteries.  Cody is a gay man, deep in the closet.  His secret lover, Chase, on the other hand, was "leading one-man Gay Pride parades."

When Chase disappears, Cody has to decide what is more important: finding out the truth, or staying safe?

"Nobody's filed a missing person report," Junior said. "Not sure anybody around here cares one way or the other."

"I could file a report."

Junior lowered his ice cream-laden spoon and stared straight into my eyes.  "You might could," he said, "but are you sure you want to do that, Cody?  People will talk."

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Something I Said, by Bracken MacLeod.

"Something I Said," by Bracken MacLeod, in Protectors 2: Heroes, edited by Thomas Pluck,  Goombah Gumbo Press, 2015.

I can't say much about this story without giving away the store.  So let me point out that the book is a fundraiser for PROTECT, "a non-partisan anti-crime pro-child lobby."  There are worse causes. 

The narrator of the story, Abel, is a bartender and he's back in the tavern on a night off.  He deliberately picks a fight with a regular customer, a guy named Scott.  Scott is what they call a "pick-up artist," who brags on the web about his irresistable techniques for seducing women.

Why does Abel want to get into a fight with this steroid-laden jerk?  What's his game plan? 

That's where I have to stop talking. Except to say that, while the story is serious, there's a line about martial arts that made me laugh out loud.  And the last paragraph is stunning.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

And the Golden Derringer

I am embarassed to admit I didn't read far enough down the announcement to see that the Short Mystery Fiction Society also announced the winner of the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement in Short Mystery Fiction.  Congratulations to Michael Bracken!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Derringer Award Winners, 2013

The winners of the Derringer Awards were announced today by the Short Mystery Fiction Society.  Congratulations to all!


Best Flash Story:
The Cable Job - Randy DeWitt

Best Short Story:
Getting Out of the Box - Michael Bracken

Best Long Story:
When Duty Calls - Art Taylor

Best Novelette:
Wood-Smoke Boys - Doug Allyn

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Teed Off, by Mark Troy

"Teed Off," by Mark Troy, in Game Face.

This ebook was available for free.   It is a collection of stories about Val Lyons, a Hawaii-based private eye.

Glenn Floeck moved down Concourse C of Honolulu International Airport as if he expected everyone to get out of his way.

This first sentence tells us a good deal about Mr. Floeck, doesn't it?  Val has signed on as personal driver for this obnoxious golf millionaire who is actually a lousy golfer and a worse human being.  we will discover she has an ulterior motive for tolerating his crude advances.  She is working on behalf of a client whose sister got a restraining order against Flock, not long before falling of a hotel balcony to her death.  Interesting protagonist, good story.

By the way, it first appeared in Fedora, edited by Michael Bracken.