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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Stone Soup, by David Edgerley Gates

"Stone Soup," by David Edgerley Gates, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, November 2016.

This is the fourth appearance by David Edgerley Gates in my Best-of-the Week list, the first since he joined me on the SleuthSayers blog.


It is also the second appearance here for Mickey Counihan, who works for the Hannahs, an Irish crime family in 1940s New York.  Mickey describes himself in this story as "muscle," but he's being modest.  I'd call him a fixer, running some low level schemes, and looking out for the family's interest.  Here is Mickey describing the status quo:

We'd made peace with the capos, the money my kids brought in from the numbers racket was steady, wagers at the racetrack books were up, sin was paying off on our investment.

But sin was the problem facing a guy named Hinny Boggs, who asked Mickey for help.  His wife's second cousin, Ginger, was pregnant and unwed.  Worse, she wanted to keep the baby.  Much worse, the father was Monsignor Devlin, the cardinal's right hand man. Which meant Ginger had to vanish before she wound up in much worse trouble than just being in trouble.

She doesn't need a white knight, though.  Just a black hat like Mickey, willing to pull in favors and negotiate deals with some of his personal enemies for a woman he's never met. 

My one complaint about this story is that Gates under-utilized the metaphor in his title.  As I recall, in the old tale it took a whole village to make stone soup, which is relevant to the events here.

Very satisfactory piece.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Slip Knot, by David Edgerley Gates

"Slip Knot," by David Edgerley Gates, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, November 2011.



I think it was G.K. Chesterton who said (or had a character say) that the criminal is the artist and the detective merely the critic. The reason that the detective nonetheless gets to be the main character is that the story starts after the crime, and the action we follow is the criticism, so to speak, not the creation of the art.

Not so in the usual Gates story. Of course, one can argue that his hero, Mickey Counihan, is not a detective, but he is trying to solve a crime. (In fact, if I were a judge on the Shamus Awards next year I would argue that he meets the qualifications for consideration.)

You see, Mickey is a fixer for the Hannah family, an Irish mob in New York in the 1950s. He usually seems less like a main character than the typical hero of a detective story. More like an observer or not-so-innocent bystander. Because his main job is to watch out for the Hannah family's interests, which may call for him to watch what's going on but not necessarily step in. As someone tells him in this story "You don't have a dog in this fight." Before the tale is over, he very much does.

The story is about a pool match, or really about the betting that goes on before and during the match. No one, including Mickey, can figure out who is manipulating the odds, and to what end. Before it gets straightened out a bunch of people will be dead.

Gates writes convincingly of dangerous men who expect trouble and know how to greet it. But the main reason the story made this list is the sheer casualness of the last paragraph, that treats a stunning detail as less important than a pool shot.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Cabin Fever, by David Edgerley Gates

"Cabin Fever," by David Edgerley Gates, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine,  September/October 2017.

This is the fifth appearance in this space by David Edgerley Gates, which ties him with James Powell, and leaves him topped only by Terence Faherty.  It is his second showing here since he joined SleuthSayers where I also blog.

Somebody said the essence of story is this: throw your hero in a hole and drop rocks on him.  Let's count how many rocks fall on Montana deputy Hector Moody.

His truck breaks down in the mountains miles from anywhere.  No phone reception.  A thunderstorm approaching fast.  And oh yes, unknown to him, to prisoners have escaped from prison and they have already killed to stay free...

That's just the set-up. The situation will get much  worse.

A real nail-biter, with terrific dialog.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Burning Daylight, by David Edgerley Gates

"Burning Daylight" by David Edgerley Gates, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, July/August 2012.


Well, Mr. Gates is having a good year.  This is the third time in nine months he has made my best-of-the-week list.  And the stories have been very different.  One historical, one urban, and now a rural police procedural.

Hector is a deputy in Montana, near a national forest.  When two kids report seeing a double-wide trailer explode he knows it was a meth lab.  Since the drug-maker went up with his product Hector could have let it go at that but he is a good cop and wants to know what happened: specifically, how did a Gulf War vet wind up making drugs out in the wilderness?  And which comes first, supply or demand?  The trail becomes darker and grimmer.

"With all due respect, don't preach the law to me."
"The law's all we've got between us and the stone age."
"Frank, for Christ's sake, this IS the stone age."


A powerful piece of work.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Devil to Pay, by David Edgerley Gates

"The Devil to Pay," by David Edgerley Gates, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 2012.

If you like Elmore Leonard's casserole's fo good guys/bad guys plotting against each other, you should enjoy this story.  Tommy Meadows, fresh out of jail, is just what the FBI needs to find out what happened to a shipment of guns and ammo intended for the Army.  All he has to do is stay alive long enough to outsmart the Russian mob.  Good luck with that, Tommy boy.

I think the main reason this story made my weekly hit list is the two words a femaie fed makes after shooting someone.  Hilarious.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Thriller Nominees

Congratulations to the nominees for the International Thriller Writers' THRILLER Awards.

BEST SHORT STORY
David Edgerley Gates – “The Devil to Pay” (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine)
Clark Howard – “The Street Ends at the Cemetery” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)
Dennis Lehane – “The Consumers” (Mulholland Books)
Gordon McEachern – “The History Lesson” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)
John Rector – “Lost Things” (Thomas & Mercer)