Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Edgars are announced

And the winner for Best Short Story is:

"What Do You Do?” – Rogues by Gillian Flynn
(Penguin Random House Publishing – Bantam Books)


Sunday, April 26, 2015

We On The Train! by Margaret Maron

"We On The Train!" by Margaret Maron, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, May 2015.  

If you have ever read a book to a small child you know that the highest possible accolade they can offer is an immediate "Read it again!"  The first thing I did after finishing this story is start it over.

Of course, it helps that the story is very short - flash fiction or close to it - but it is so clever that I had to take another look at.

Greg McInnis is a DEA agent who prefers to do his business traveling by train.  On a trip up the east coast he is amused by a young African-American woman who is gleefully phoning everyone she knows to tell them that she is going to visit New York with an older man she says is her Uncle Leon.

Sounds innocent enough, but this is a crime story, so something else must be going on here.  Will our hero figure it out in time?  He only has four pages...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Arthur Ellis Award Nomination

The Crime Writers of Canada have announced the nominations for the Arthur Ellis Awards.  Congratulations to all the short story nominees, eh!

Best Short Story
Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress, McClelland & Stewart
Melodie Campbell, Hook, Line and Sinker, Your McMurray Magazine
Peter Clement, Therapy, Belgrave House
Madona Skaff, First Impressions, The Whole She-Bang 2, Sisters in Crime
Kevin P. Thornton, Writers Block, World Enough and Crime, Carrick Publishing

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson, by Robert Mangeot

"Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson," by Robert Mangeot, in Alfred Hitchcock's mystery Magazine, May 2015.

Mr. Mangeot makes his second appearance here.  This story is all about language and character.

The character is Vi Celucci, and she is an Optimizer, which means she specializes in making your life and workplace more efficient, healthier, and better organized.  Obsession is either funny or tragic, depending on how close you are standing to the fallout, and Ms. Celucci is obsessive about her field, and maybe about everything else.

She received two counterfeit ten dollar bills and  feels the authorities are not up to the job of finding the counterfeiters.  "The Secret Service guy asked me to repeat myself, which did not bode well for either his cognitive or listening skills."

So she decides to crack the case herself.  And this is a formidable lady, determined, and very sure of herself.

I shook my head, and I only shook my head one way: hard right, soft return.  Anything more was wasted motion.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Continental Opposite, by Evan Lewis

"The Continental Opposite," by Evan Lewis, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, May 2015.

This dude Lewis is turning into a major threat.  First there were his stories about Skyler Hobbs,who thinks he is the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes.  Then tales of Davy Crockett's ghost, who harasses his descendents into solving crimes.  And now he has revived Dashiell Hammett's famous character the Continental Op.

Brief pause for confusion from the readers.  But Hammett's family owns the copyright!  And Lopresti doesn't like fan fiction (Author B writing new stories with the characters of Author A)!

True.  But I am sometimes a sucker for reboots, in which Author B rethinks the original and comes up with a new twist.

This story takes place in the fifties, decades after the Op's last appearance.  The main character is a young detective named Peter Collins (he notes bitterly that his father deliberately gave him a name that is gangland slang for "nobody").  Peter works for the Portland, Oregon branch of a national detective agency and when he accuses his boss of corruption the company sends in a retired op who used to work for the San Francisco branch("sometime in the forties Continental had put him out to pasture, and he'd spent the years since killing a vegetable garden, sneering at golf course, and not catching fish.") .  Peter finds him sinister and refers to him as the Old Man.

Hmm.  In Hammett's stories the Op's boss was the Old Man, but it is clearly not the same person.  In fact, this new guy strongly resembles Hammett's hero, much older and, if possible, more cynical.

Now let's address the copyright issue.  Does Lewis use the name of the characters?  No, because the Op never had one.  (And Old Man is hardly a unique moniker either.)  The Op worked for the Continental Detective Agency.  Peter works for Continental Investigations, which recently changed its name from something or other.

A brilliant story, and the first of a series.  I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Fedora, by Terrell Lee Lankford

"The Fedora," by Terrell Lee Lankford, in The Private Eye Writers of America present Fifty Shades of Grey Fedora, edited by Robert J. Randisi, Riverdale Avenue Books, 2015.

The first story I reviewed form this book was a private eye story.  Now we're into noir. The nameless narrator makes a living doing low-level investigatory work for his uncle, a P.I.  Then uncle's friend Milo explains that he is going overseas for six months and wants someone to keep an eye on his wife, make sure she isn't fooling around.

And of course, she's gorgeous.

If you have read any noir at all I don't have to tell you what happens next.  And the ending will bring bad news for somebody.  

A well-written, moody little story.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

International Thriller Award nominees

The International Thrillers Wirters has announced their nominees.  Congrat to all!


Richard Helms - Busting Red Heads, EQMM
Stephen Ross - Pussycat, Pussycat, EQMM
Gigi Vernon - Show Stopper, ICE COLD
Ben Vincent - The Honey Trap, ICE COLD
Tim L. WIlliams - The Last Wrestling Bear in West Kentucky, EQMM

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

And one more Derringer

I am delighted to report that the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for lifetime achievement in the mystery short story went to the great James Powell.  Congratulations, Jim!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Derringer Winners!

The Short Mystery Fiction Society just announced the Derringer Award winners for 2015.  Mucho congratulations!

How LIL Jimmie Beat the big C   Joseph DAgnese 
The Kaluki Kings of Queens    Cathi Stoler  

 A Hopeless Case                  Hilary Davidson               
The Snow Angel          Doug Allyn                 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I Wish I Had Your Job, by Ted Fitzgerald.

"I Wish I Had Your Job," by Ted Fitzgerald.   The Private Eye Writers of America present Fifty Shades of Grey Fedora, edited by Robert J. Randisi, Riverdale Avenue Books, 2015.

It has been many years since PWA put out an anthology and, as you can tell by the title, this time they went with a theme: private eyes and sex.  Some qualify as erotica, some not so much.

Mr. Fitzgerald's is my favorite so far.  Notice the title of the story?  The first line is: No, you don't.

Tex Texeira is a private eye and one of his clients is an adult magazine.  He checks out potential centerfolds for them, making sure they have no outstanding warrants and at least eighteen orbits of the sun. 

Some of his friends think this is a great job, hence the title.  Tex is not so sure.  He spends most of his time doing background checks, not so much with the potential models, whom he is forbidden to get involved with, anyway.

The latest candidate is Dulce Nunes, but it looks like she may not be interested.  It appears that her mother got a couple of naked photographs of Dulce and sent them to the magazine.  Here's the loving mama: "Dulce's strong-willed.  She won't say what she doesn't want to say, but expects you to listen to whatever it is that she wants to say when she wants to say it.  Make a great husband for someone, that girl."

  Dulce has disappeared, and her past has some definite shadows.  When Tex tries to investigate he gets beaten up by four bikers.   Is she a damsel in distress or is something else going on?

A solid, witty, private eye story.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chin Yong-Yun Meets A Ghost, by S.J. Rozan

"Chin Yong-Yun Meets A Ghost," by S.J. Rozan, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March-April 2015.

My buddy S.J. Rozan does her best work in the first person.  She started out writing stories about New York private eye Bill Smith.  When she switched to novels she added Smith's occasional partner Lydia Chin.  Now there is a third voice in that universe.  This is the second story told by Lydia's formidable mother.

And what a wonderful voice Mrs. Chin has.  "The other ladies agreed with me, as they often do, because I am usually right."  

The lady is making dinner when she gets a phone call from Gerald Yu.  This is annoying for three reasons.  First, Yu is a gambler and not very bright.  Second, he wants to involve daughter Lydia in his troubles.  And third, he happens to be dead.

"It's about my death, but it's not vengeance I'm after.  Also, it's not really about my death, because I'm not dead."
"Who told you that?  They're lying."

I almost wrote that Chin seems confused about whether Yu is alive or a ghost, but that would be precisely wrong.  She is completely unconcerned about the question, and seems to find the two conditions fluid.

So she decides to solve Yu's puzzle to keep her daughter from getting involved.  Her daughter disapproves of her doing detective work.

"Why?"  I asked her quite innocently.  "Is it dangerous?"

Try to think of a way Lydia could answer that one.

Wonderful, character, wonderful story.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

First Dragon, by Martin Limón

"First Dragon," by Martin Limón, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 2015.

I think this may be the first fiction my friend Martin Limón has written that is not set in Korea.  For
this new series he slipped a few miles over the border into Manchuria.

Il Yong, the title character, is the son of an American serviceman and a Korean mother, who did various classified jobs for Defense contractor and is now the head of security for a medical missionary group.  They are supposed to be helping the Chinese peasants but they don't turn away starving North Korean refugees who slip over from the Hermit Kingdom.

But that's not the current problem.  A group of Manchurian bandits have kidnapped an American nurse.  Il Yong has both professional and personal reasons to want to get her back, no matter the danger.

Fascinating story.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Trouble With Virgins, by Thomas K. Carpenter.

"The Trouble With Virgins," by Thomas K. Carpenter, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, February 2015.

Interesting title. 

This first story by the author of several historical novels is set in first century A.D. Alexandria. Magistrate Ovid, an unambitious son of Roman aristocrats, has the job of administering justice in a section of the city.  Alas, he finds himself between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

A vestal virgin informs him that a crime has been committed: a body has been burned in the city proper.  The culprit, a young man, cheerfully admits to the crime.  But his father, a senator, demands that Ovid find him innocent.  Either the virgin or the senator can destroy Ovid's career.  How can he satisfy both?

The answer requires a knowledge of Roman law and a willingness to stretch the truth.  Very clever story.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Derringer nominees announced

The Short Mystery Fiction Society has announced the nominees for the Derringer Awards for 2015.  Congratulations to all!

Because, Melissa Yi , Fiction River Special Edition: Crime 
Sweet Smells, Jed Power, Shotgun Honey                                                          
How Lil Jimmie Beat The Big C, Joseph DAgnese, Shotgun Honey                                  
Foodies, Rob Hart, Shotgun Honey                                                          
Knockout, Eryk Pruitt, Out of the Gutter Online                   
Because, Travis RichardsonOut of the Gutter Online                   

The Least of TheseBV Lawson, Plan B Magazine Volume III 
Killing Sam Clemens, William Burton McCormick   Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #13 
A Friend in Brown, Mary E. Stibal, Rogue Wave:  Best New England Crime Stories
The Bad Son, Britni Patterson, Carolina Crimes: 19 Tales of Lust Love and Longing           

The Kaluki Kings of Queens  Cathi StolerMurder New York Style: Family Matters      

A Hopeless Case, Hilary Davidson, All Due Respect (issue #4)    
Separation Anxiety, Angel Luis Colón,  All Due Respect                     
The Ultimate Mystery, M. H. Callway, World Enough and Crime      
The Missing Money, James T. Shannon, Rogue Wave:  Best New England Crime Stories      
Dead Men Tell No Tales, Cathy Wiley,  Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays      
Hitlers Dogs, Doug Allyn,  

Fiction River Special Edition: Crime 

Infernal, Trey Dowell, Untreed Reads                                               
Busting Red Heads, Richard Helms,  Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine       
The Monster in Our Midst, Kris Nelscott, Fiction River Special Edition: Crime             
Juba Good, Vicki Delany, Ocra Books       

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