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

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Devil You Know, by Jas. R. Petrin

"The Devil You Know," by Jas. R. Petrin, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March 2016.

This is Petrin's third appearance in this blog.

Reading a new adventure of a favorite character fells like meeting up with an old friend.  But some friends are definitely better in fiction than in real life.

Which leads us to Leo "Skig" Skorzeny, a tough-as-nails loan shark in Halifax, Canada.  Skig is too old to be doing this stuff, and he has an "imp" in his guts he expects will kill him, if someone else doesn't do it first.

Among his enemies are the Halifax police who have "found" a block of cocaine in his ancient smelly Crown Vic - in an earlier story it spent a few hours in the harbor - and they offer him a deal: they won't press charges if he helps them find a truckload of old furniture that was stolen while being shifted from police headquarters.

Skig has good reason not to trust the cops.  As his friend Creeper says about the sergeant running the operation: "When she says win-win, she really means a double win for them.  Nothng for you."

But Skig figures out that what they are really after is not the old desks and tables but some filing cabinets that were in the truck.  And if he can find them - and determine which file they are desperate for - he might get out of the mess with a whole skin.

As usual, a good story from Petrin.


 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Money Maker, by Jas. R. Petrin

"Money Maker," by Jas. R. Petrin, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, May/June 2017.

I admit to being a major fan of Leo "Skig" Slorzeny.  This is his fourth appearance in my weekly best list.

Petrin's protagonist is an aging loanshark in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  There is a "demon" eating up his guts - in earlier stories it was an "imp," so I guess it is getting worse - and it will kill him if one of his many enemies don't get around to it first. 

In this story Skig has done an unnamed favor for a couple of Maine crooks and they send him the agreed upon fee.  Unfortunately, half of it turns out to be counterfeit so Skig sets out to figure out who along the line of shipment shorted him.

He is accompanied by his sidekick, Creepy Culbertson, who fixes cars in the garage that Skig has renovated into living quarters.

"I'm in."
"I thought you had a front-end alighment to do."
"It can wait."
"Won't your customer be wanting his wheels back?"
"Don't see why.  He don't even have a driver's license.  I'd be doing the world a favor, keeping that boozehound off the road." 

Not exactly the dialog of Holmes and Watson.  But that is one of the joys of these stories: the tough guy characters sound tough.   So does the narrator, describing a crime scene:

Under the chairs a sight the media might describe as "distressing to some viewers."

Another highlight of this story is meeting Saul,  Skig's attorney for, I believe, the first time.  Here they are having lunch.

"And you went to meet this man so that you could..."
"Take a delivery.  A sack of cash."
Saul clucked his tongue.  "The kitchen's noisy.  I didn't hear that."
"The kitchen's at the other end of the room."
"Yes.  They're incredibly clumsy in there."

 But the highlight of any Skig story is Skig.  People underestimate the aging thug in all sorts of ways. 
"There's nothing nice about me. Nothing at all," he says, after doing something nice. No heart of gold here, he insists,  merely balancing the books.  And that's a subject  of importance to any loanshark.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Knock On The Door, by Jas. R. Petrin

"A Knock On The Door," by Jas. R. Petrin, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 2014.

I have written before about my admiration for Jas. R. Petrin's stories about Skig Skorzeny, an aging Halifax loanshark with a gut full of cancer and a heart of, well, not gold, but something more than the rock he pretends to possess.

I'm not going to dwell on the plot of this story (late wife's niece, missing person) but instead I want to concentrate on the writing.  As I went through the tale I found myself marking passages I like (perhaps the only benefit  of my not having a story of my own in this issue.  I don't need to save it).  So, with no further ado:

Skig to a delinquent customer who is suffering from a protection racket: 

"Those partners of yours bleed you again before I get paid, I'm gonna attend their next shareholders meeting.  In fact, I might anyway."
"Please don't do that."
"Could be fun.  A hostile takeover.  Tell 'em."

Skig about to have an MRI:
"So, Mr. Skorzeny, is there any metal, iron, nickel, or cobalt on or in your body?"
"Cobalt?  What the hell is cobalt?"
"A metal--"
"Inside me?"
"Yes."
"How would I know?  This body's been through some pileups.  Do bullets have cobalt in them?"

The narrator explains why Skig moved into an old filling station:
After Jeanette died, the house had seemed too empty during the day, and too full at night, all the ghosts peering out of the woodwork.

A cop asks Skig for help:
"Help you?  Listen, I'm responsible for half the overtime you get."

And, at random:
"Nobody knows nothing anymore," Skig said.  "The information age."

Treat yourself.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A New Pair of Pants

“A New Pair of Pants” by Jas. R. Petrin, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. September 2011.


The last time I talked about a series character it was James Powell’s Inspector Bozo, and that piece led Jim to write this excellent piece on how story series develop, so don’t say I never do any good for the world.

Have you noticed that some of the series character who are the most enjoyable to read about (or watch) are people you would NOT want to spend time with in real life? Seriously, how long do you think you could tolerate the presence of Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Columbo, Rumpole, or Dr. House?

Part of their attraction is they don’t obey the rules of society, getting away with stuff our superegos would never permit. One of the reasons Shanks is my favorite among the characters I have created is because he does things I am far too well-behaved to try.

Which brings us to Jas. R. Petrin’s Leo “Skig” Skorzeny. Skig is an aging Halifax loan shark, a quintessential tough guy with a heart of – well, granite mostly, but there is a thin streak of gold running through it somewhere. Skig also has an “imp” in his gut (I think it was defined as stomach cancer in an earlier story) which keeps him popping pills and even crankier than he would other be.

And he has reasons to be cranky. Two of his clients – a cop and a school administrator – can’t pay their debts, and when one of them is suspected of murder it looks like Skig may have to write off the debt. Meanwhile one of the few people he likes, an old woman, is in danger of making a bad business deal, and Skig won’t allow that. And while tough guys can be scary, it’s good to have one on your side.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Little Big News: Arthur Ellis announced

The Crime Writers of Canada announced the winners of their Arthur Ellis Awards this week.  The ones that concern us here are:

Best Novella *
Jas. R. Petrin, A Knock on the Door, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine
Best Short Story 
Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress, McClelland & Stewart

*CWC announces the Lou Allin Memorial Award of $200 for the Arthur Ellis Novella Category
Sponsored by the 2011 Bloody Words Conference Committee, this award will be given in honour of Lou Allin.  Lou was a board member of CWC, a co-chair of the 2011 Bloody Words Conference, an award-winning writer, and a mentor to many.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Stimulus Money, by Dan Warthman

"Stimulus Money," by Dan Warthman, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, July/August 2013.

Imagine you have written a story and, lucky you, gotten it published.  You want to write more about the same character.  How do you go about doing it again, but doing it different?

Charles M. Schulz said "A cartoonist is someone who has to draw the same thing day after day without repeating himself."  And that is sort of the challenge an author faces with a series.   People want to meet the same Sherlock Holmes in every Doyle story, but they want him to be doing something different.

Warthman is facing this issue in his second published story about retired hitman Jones (after "Pansy Place," which made my best-of list for last year.)  (And by the way, he writes about creating the mysterious Mr. Jones at Trace Evidence.)

In the first story Warthman established a cast of characters: Jones "trying to fit into retirement," his former boss Konnie, who is the jolliest crime boss I have ever encountered, and Akin, the young hitman Jones is mentoring.

If all this crime sounds like I am describing a grim story, I am misleading you.  They are witty Robin Hood tales in which Jones uses his particular skill set to help out somebody. 

These days, doing a few pro bono jobs, solving problems for people, civilians.  Aggravations and frustrations.  Jones cut through the formalities, the rules, the mores, the laws, and gets matters settled.  Helps people out.

 In this case, Akin's mother's boyfriend has gotten into debt with a payday lender of dubious ethics.

It might be interesting to compare Warthman's tales to  Jas. R. Petrin’s stories about Canadian loan shark, Leo “Skig” Skorzeny, who is always reluctantly willing (if that phrase makes any sense) to get his friends out of trouble.

Both series are well-written and fun.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Little Big News: Arthur Ellis Award Nominees

The Crime Writers of Canada have announced their nominees for the year. Congrats to all! Here are the short story finalists:

"In it Up to My Neck" Jas R. Petrin, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

"So Much in Common" Mary Jane Maffini, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

"The Big Touch" Jordan McPeek, Thuglit.com

"The Piper's Door" James Powell, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

"The Bust" William Deverall, Whodunnit: Sun Media’s Canadian Crime
Fiction Showcase