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Preview: Nasty. Brutish. Short.

Nasty. Brutish. Short.



Short reviews of short stories for those with short attention spans



Updated: 2017-11-05T05:40:59.899-06:00

 



e-Golem by SJ Rozan

2017-11-05T05:40:59.929-06:00

Okay, so SJ is known to all mystery readers and has won every prize for mystery writing available except, ironically, The Rozan*. But this story is really good. I mean it takes place in a used bookstore - what more dangerous setting for a writer can there be? Every cliche is primed and ready for use. See also: writers writing about writer's block.There is also the Book of Ancient Wisdom trope.

So you might start to wonder if the story is merely a pile of dusty cliches. It's not... Unless you think a pile of dust is always a pile of dust. And to think that, you'd need to forget your Genesis story... The Bible one, not the Star Trek one.

The story starts with the dust of the bookstore and ends with the dust of the bookstore. What happens in between, well, let's just say you'll like it.

Find it in the current Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.



* She was a lock for it earlier this year when I made it up, but she missed a filing deadline. Ah well, there's always next year...



"Come Back Paddy Reilly" by Con Lehane

2017-11-05T05:40:36.769-06:00

You read Con Lehane novels for the poetry of language and for the completely human characters. You read this short story in the current Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine for the same reasons.

Paddy Reilly is a Bronx-Irish cop working undercover when he comes into contact with Nancy, a woman who used to be a girl he knew way back when. As in other Lehane stories, when two people collide, a heart has to break somewhere. The fact that it's a "Black Mask" entry for EQMM should also tell you something about how this one will play out.

As a writer, I'm in awe of Con's ability to quickly draw a character who appears to be every bit human.

If you're looking for longer form work from Lehane, try his "Murder at the 42nd Street Library."  



"A Real Work of Art" by Gwenda Bond

2016-12-30T06:59:25.127-06:00

Yesterday via Twitter, I learned Gwenda Bond was writing YA novels with DC Comics' legendary Lois Lane as protagonist. The concept alone was enough to convince me, but Gwenda also happens to have two short stories available for free right now on Amazon Kindle, so I downloaded and read both. The one I'm choosing to review involves the more clear-cut crime.

At her latest of many schools as an Army brat, sixteen-year-old Lois takes an elective art class. Around the studio are reproductions of masterpieces, and the teacher, Mr. Jacques, only instructs his students to pick a masterpiece and try to imitate it. Lois happens to recognize Mr. Jacques' signature on the reproductions as belonging to a fugitive forger. With a little help from an online friend she knows only as SmallvilleGuy, but largely on her own, Lois investigates and ultimately alerts the police.

Bond's writing reminds me fondly of Erica Durance's supporting performance as teenage Lois on TV's Smallville. Here, though, Lois is the unmistakably the lead.



"A Perfectly Ordinary Case of Blackmail", by A.A. Milne

2016-09-17T15:17:30.596-05:00

A.A. Milne is, of course, best known as the creator of Winnie the Pooh and the other inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood, but he dabbled in mystery fiction from time to time. His novel The Red House Mystery is well-written, thought the plot is somewhat pedestrian. (Alexander Woollcott famously called it one the of the three best mysteries of all time, which suggests to me that Woollcott only read three mysteries.)

As "A Perfectly Ordinary Case of Blackmail" opens, Sir Vernon Filmer, a politician of long service and some repute, as well as a rather superior manner, arrives at the office of his very proper solicitor, Cedric Watherston. Filmer has a problem - as the title of the story indicates, he's being blackmailed. Watherston, quite naturally, wants to know none of the particulars. He does know a man who specializes in such cases, another solicitor whose morals are rather more flexible than Watherston's own.

(Watherston would normally never have associated with such an individual, but he'd been very useful when they were both prisoners of the Kaiser in 1917.)

Scroope was, in fact, a very useful indivdual, and soon he had the story out of Sir Vernon. Many years before, before the Great War even, a man had mistaken Sir Vernon for his wife's lover and viciously attacked him. Sir Vernon fought back and had killed the man, after which he and the man's body were discovered by Sir Vernon's friend. It looked damning. The fight had been brutal, and the wounds inflicted on the dead man could easily have been interpreted as deliberate murder.

Being a professional in such matters, Scroope cheerfully begins making his preparations, and with the clever way he works it, the guilty party - or parties - are guaranteed to get what they deserve.

This was a delightful comic story. Milne sketches the characters quickly but clearly, and his light touch lends an air of humor to the whole enterprise. The ending may not be strictly legal, but Scroope (and the reader) will no doubt find it just and proper.

I read this story in Masterpieces of Mystery: The Golden Age, Part 1, edited by Ellery Queen. I've read a couple of other volumes in the series (out of 20), and I'm working my way through The Golden Age, Part 2 right now. They're all excellent, and generally can be found at reasonable prices.




Bill Crider Update

2016-07-24T16:12:00.741-05:00

Last week, along with the mystery community, we learned our fellow blogger Bill Crider was diagnosed with an aggressive form of carcinoma. Next week, Bill will try to get into M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Bill's few, occasional reviews here are a small sample of what a great fan and supporter of short stories he is. The mystery genre and the short form are lucky to have him, and he will continue to inspire as much as his work does.



"Death of a Feminist" by Sarah Weinman

2016-05-11T11:52:25.017-05:00

From Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, June 2016

This short story showed up in my current Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and I admit I read it first because I've met Sarah at Bouchercons, other conventions, book launches, etc. Not to mention her huge internet presence. I suspect she's reviewed one of my books, and I don't doubt "mildly entertaining" was in there somewhere (possibly after "could have been..."). But enough about me...

The story features a main character who is very much connected to all things internet. And that character's mother. A mother who, it appears, is in a wheelchair and never leaves the building. If there's any legwork to do, the narrator does it. So, echoes of Nero Wolfe, no?

In this case, a famous feminist is being cyber-stalked. Vicious and anonymous attacks via the internet, texts, etc. This is a part I would have liked to hear more of - it seems to me that the cyber-bully is a new and improved bully: you don't have to be on the same continent to drive someone insane with threats, slanders, etc. The schoolyard bully at least risks getting punched in the nose (though their calculations about who to pick on help them avoid this outcome), and they risked being ostracized if the bullying backfired in any way.

Still, the relationship between the narrator and her boss, Ms. Gallant, is the main draw here. That and, when you get to the end, (which I don't intend to spoil) the, possibly, psychopathic reasons for the "death of a feminist". And how much her death was motivated (if that's the right word - don't want to blame the victim at all) by her attempt to live her life and to change and grow as a person.

Anyway, go read it, then we'll talk... Then I'm sure Ms. Weinman will have another story to talk about featuring the lead characters - they deserve a series, I think...



NBS Special Report: Flash and Bang: A Short Mystery Fiction Society Anthology

2015-10-26T06:44:13.214-05:00

(image)
Cover ©2015 Untreed Reads Publishing
Cover design by Ginny Glass
The Short Mystery Fiction Society formed in 1996 to promote mystery & crime short fiction. Graham, Bill, Steven, and I are members.

On October 8, Untreed Reads published the Society's first member anthology, Flash and Bang, in paperback and ebook.

SMFS member and Untreed Reads editor-in-chief Jay Hartman called for unpublished mystery, suspense, or thriller stories containing either a "flash" or a "bang".

Limiting submissions to one flash (300–1,000 words) and one short (1,500–3,000 words) per member, Jay received more than 300.

His selection of 19 stories ranges from historical to contemporary, cozy to hardboiled, amateur and animal sleuth to police and private detective:

  • "The Conflagration at the Nameless Cotton Gin" by Bobbi A. Chukran
  • "The Perfect Crime" by Herschel Cozine
  • "Don't Let the Cop into the House" by O'Neil De Noux
  • "Fireworks" by P.A. De Voe
  • "Rosie's Choice" by John M. Floyd
  • "The Wrong Girl" by Barb Goffman
  • "Murder on Elm Street" by Su Kopil
  • "Silent Measures" by B.V. Lawson
  • "Don't Be Cruel" by JoAnne Lucas
  • "A Simple Job" by Andrew MacRae
  • "Arthur" by Sandra Murphy
  • "Thor's Breath" by Suzanne Berube Rorhus
  • "Beautiful Killer" by Judy Penz Sheluk
  • "A Day Like No Other" by Walter A.P. Soethoudt (translated by Willem Verhulst)
  • "The Raymond Chandler Con" by Earl Staggs
  • "The Bag Lady" by Laurie Stevens
  • "Fractured Memories" by Julie Tollefson
  • "The Fruit of Thy Loins" by Albert Tucher
  • "Sierra Noir" by Tim Wohlforth

Through October 31, Flash and Bang is part of Untreed Reads 30% Off sale on mystery and horror titles.



"The Napoli Express", by Randall Garrett

2015-08-03T04:10:41.893-05:00

The Napoli Express makes the run from Paris to Naples only twice a week. In the first-class cabin there are eight cabins, with room for sixteen passengers total, though on this run one of the cabins has only a single occupant. Two of the passengers on board for this trip are Lord Darcy, chief criminal investigator for the Duke of Normandy, and his assistant, master sorcerer Sean O Lochlainn, both with suitable aliases.

As the train makes its way down through Lyon to Marseille on the Mediterranean coast, and then along the coast to the duchies of Italy. Very late during the second night of the journey, Sean and Darcy hear the other occupants trooping along the corridor, one at a time, to the compartment containing only a single traveler, a man named John Peabody.

In the morning, Peabody is found dead, bludgeoned to death. A dozen blows to the head; a dozen visitors in the night. Coincidence?

Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy stories are set in an alternate history where English King Richard II did not die of a crossbow wound, but lived to found a Plantagenet dynasty that survived to modern times, and in which magic has been codified and is used in place of science in our own. Despite this, they are fair-play detective stories in which a rational solution can always be found - no magic required.

Garrett was also fond of seeking inspiration from the classics of the mystery genre. The most famous instance was his novel Too Many Magicians, in which a main character resembled Nero Wolfe and has a smart-aleck assistant named Bontriomphe ("good win"). The title of that one is quite similar those of Rex Stout's novels Too Many Cooks, Too Many Women, and Too Many Men.

In this case, of course, he's taking on Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. His solution is ingenious, and he even slips in some subtle criticism of the original.

You really can't go wrong with the Lord Darcy tales, which are available in a collection simply called Lord Darcy, which is out of print but easily found.



"Shambleau" by C.L. Moore

2015-08-01T01:54:43.784-05:00

Available in Northwest of Earth, Paizo Publishing, 2007

I became interested in C.L. Moore's Northwest Smith stories upon learning Smith was an inspiration for Star Wars' Han Solo. The first and most famous Smith story, "Shambleau", was also Moore's first professional sale (Weird Tales, November 1933). It establishes Smith as a tough-minded man visiting a colony on Mars for shady business the details of which are left cryptic. Spotting a young woman being chased by a mob, Smith manages to save her and avoid bloodshed simply by saying she is his, a twist that strikes even Smith as odd.

Letting the woman stay with him, Smith realizes she is not quite human, but cannot say definitively what she is. After a day out on business, Smith returns to his lodgings and acts on his attraction to his guest and her palpable willingness to have him. Before things go too far, Smith finds himself suddenly revolted. This, however, is not enough to save him a perilous second encounter with her.

I found Moore's style evocative yet easily readable, particularly in its depiction of Smith's conflicting attraction and horror at what he discovers the woman to be.



"Heat Death" by Bill Cameron

2015-07-11T15:20:48.042-05:00

On Twitter, Bill Cameron offered copies of the July/August 2015 AHMM, featuring this Skin Kadash story, and I was lucky enough to get one. Kadash is a cop in Cameron's loose series of novels, but "Heat Death" serves to introduce him to new readers while on a road trip to Canada with his only friend, Tommy, in the summer of 1971.

Expecting to be drafted into the U.S. Army, Tommy's motivation for the trip is to rendezvous with a woman he's fallen for, named Instance. Skin goes along to keep Tommy out of trouble, and only narrowly does so. As he sketches a younger Kadash, Cameron evokes the freedom of a road trip and the tension of the times equally well.



"A Visit to the One-Eyed Man" by Bill Crider

2014-11-15T12:53:01.535-06:00

From NoirCon and Out of the Gutter Present Noir Riot, Volume 1 (September 2014)

Fellow NBS reviewer Bill Crider and I have work published in the inaugural issue of Noir Riot, the print journal of Philadelphia's biennial noir convention, NoirCon.

Bill's story opens with the narrator surprised by his homicidal brother, Don, at a cafe. Don and two thugs force him out of the cafe into a car for the proverbial drive into the country where they plan to kill him. Don explains that the narrator has been seen in the company of a crime boss's wife, and said boss, The One-Eyed Man, can't abide that.

Bill peppers the drive with bits of the brothers' history. For instance, this isn't the first attempt Don has made on the narrator's life. That was a a car accident that resulted in the insertion of a metal plate in the narrator's skull and talk of brain damage that the narrator dismisses, but that led me to be careful believing his side of the story.

Buckle up for a twisty ride.



The Very Old Man by Jenny Milchman

2014-07-29T19:35:11.362-05:00

Creepy. Let's start with that.

"The man looked older than God or the Devil."

Okay so you're in a supermarket and this old man shambles over to your cart where your 9 month old baby is holding herself steady in the seat, but just barely. He gives the girl a dirty old quarter, gives her leg a shake, mumbles a few words. Creeped out? Or do you think the whole episode is harmless? Assume creeped out since your daughter doesn't look/act quite the same afterwards. What next? Are there steps to take to ward off bad old man juju?

I won't tell you what the mother, Denise, ultimately does. That would break the #1 rule of reviewing. But I can say the story is a very nice bit of character development hinging on Denise's reaction to that initial encounter in the supermarket.

This story is in the latest issue (July 2014) of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and if you like it, you might want to look up her latest novel: RUIN FALLS from Ballantine Books. Or visit the author at her website.



"The Courier" by Dan Fesperman

2014-07-03T08:08:25.867-05:00

In Agents of Treachery, ed. Otto Penzler, Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2010.

In 1958, former B-17 gunner and spy Bill Tobin is working at the Federal Records Center, tasked with deciding which documents from World War II get burned, declassified, or locked away, when he comes across the file on Lieutenant Seymour Parker. Shot down during his first mission, Parker was captured by the Swiss and recruited by Tobin because he seemed the sort who would crack if interrogated by the Germans. Allen Dulles and the OSS intended to use Parker to pass bad intelligence to the Germans about U.S. troop movements.

I was drawn into the story as Tobin read the file and recalled his own recruitment by Dulles, and his part in setting Parker up as bait for the Germans. I learned along with Tobin what became of Parker after he was handed over to the Germans in a prisoner exchange fourteen years earlier. Fesperman makes good use of the file to frame this story, and of Tobin's current position to bring about some closure.



NBS Special Report: 2014 SMFS Derringer Finalists

2014-03-02T14:35:31.308-06:00

The Short Mystery Fiction Society has announced the finalists for its 2014 Derringer Awards as determined by SMFS member volunteer judges:

For Best Flash (Up to 1,000 words)

For Best Short Story (1,001–4,000 words)
  • "Pretty Little Things" by Chris F. Holm (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, July 2013)
  • "The Present" by Robert Lopresti (The Strand Magazine, February-May 2013)
  • "The Sweetheart Scamster" by Rosemary McCracken (Thirteen by the Mesdames of Mayhem, August 2013)
  • "The Little Outlaw" by Mike Miner (Plan B Magazine, August 9, 2013)
  • "The Cemetery Man" by Bill Pronzini (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, July 2013)

For Best Long Story (4,001–8,000 words)
  • "Myrna!" by John Bubar (Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold, Level Best Books, September 2013)
  • "Bloody Signorina" by Joseph D'Agnese (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, September 2013)
  • "Give Me a Dollar" by Ray Daniel (Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold, Level Best Books, September 2013)
  • "Dance Man" by Andrew Jetarski (Last Exit to Murder, Down & Out Books, June 2013)
  • "A Dangerous Life" by Adam Purple (Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold, Level Best Books, September 2013)

For Best Novelette (8,001–20,000 words)
  • "The Serpent Beneath the Flower" by Jack Bates (Mind Wings Audio, April 2013)
  • "The Goddaughter's Revenge" by Melodie Campbell (Orca Rapid Reads, October 2013)
  • "For Love's Sake" by O'Neil De Noux (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, July/August 2013)
  • "The Antiquary's Wife" by William Burton McCormick (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March 2013)
  • "Last Night in Cannes" by James L. Ross (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, November 2013)

Finalists may obtain certificates of achievement by emailing SMFS Vice President Gerald So (G_SO at YAHOO dot COM).

SMFS members in good standing since December 31, 2013 vote to determine the winner in each category March 1–30, 2014. The winners will be announced Monday, March 31, 2014.



"Class Reunion" by Robb White

2014-02-25T02:12:08.474-06:00

This week's story at BEAT to a PULP is told from the viewpoint of "Pig" Piglowski attending his twenty-year high school reunion in East Palestine, Ohio. White sets a dark tone from the second paragraph as Pig remembers his best friend from high school, Joey Soliday. The poorest of the poor in East Palestine, Joey's father was blinded in a glass factory explosion. His sister's life mysteriously went off the rails until she died of an apparent overdose.

"Class Reunion" stands out to me because Pig doesn't drive the action. He remembers unreliably or hears information secondhand months or years later. While it made me feel helpless, this conceit also kept me intrigued and in suspense.

Having first read Robb White's work years ago, submitted under the name Terry White to Thrilling Detective, I'm happy to be reunited.



NBS Special Report: 2014 MWA Edgar Awards

2014-01-19T08:54:17.476-06:00

Mystery Writers of America today announced the nominees for the 2014 Edgar Allan Poe Award nominees, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television, published or produced in 2013. Here are the nominees for Best Short Story:

  • "The Terminal" – Kwik Krimes by Reed Farrel Coleman (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
  • "So Long, Chief" – Strand Magazine by Max Allan Collins & Mickey Spillane (The Strand)
  • "The Caxton Lending Library & Book Depository” – Bibliomysteries by John Connolly (Mysterious)
  • "There are Roads in the Water" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Tina Corey (Dell Magazines)
  • "Where That Morning Sun Goes Down" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Tim L. Williams (Dell Magazines)


and the winner of the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Short Story by an American Author:

  • "The Wentworth Letter" – Criminal Element's Malfeasance Occasional by Jeff Soloway (St. Martin's Press)


Congratulations and good luck to all. Awards will be presented to the winners at the 68th Edgar® Awards Banquet on May 1, 2014.



NBS Special Report: 2013 PWA Shamus Awards

2013-06-29T03:36:55.506-05:00

This past week, the Private Eye Writers of America released its list of finalists for the 2013 Shamus Awards. Below are the Best P.I. Short Story nominees:

"The Sequel" by Jeffrey Deaver in The Strand
"After Cana" by Terence Faherty in EQMM
"O'Nelligan and the Lost Fates" by Michael Nethercott in AHMM
"Illegitimati Non Carborundum" by Stephen D. Rogers in Crimespree
"Ghost Negligence" by John Shepphird in AHMM



NBS Special Report: 2013 SMFS Derringer Winners

2013-06-29T04:16:18.646-05:00

As announced March 31, 2013. Winners in bold

BEST FLASH STORY (Up to 1,000 words):

  • "An Old-Fashioned Villain" by Nick Andreychuk (Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, May 2012)
  • "The Cable Job" by Randy DeWitt (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, September 2012)
  • "Dead Man" by A.J. Hayes (Off The Record 2: At The Movies, September 2012)
  • "Daddy's Girl" by Nicola Kennington (The Flash Fiction Offensive, July 22, 2012)
  • "Twas the Knife Before Christmas" by Allan Leverone (Shotgun Honey, December 24, 2012)


BEST SHORT STORY (1,001 - 4,000 words):

  • "Getting Out of the Box" by Michael Bracken (Crime Square, Vantage Point, 2012)
  • "A Special Kind of Hell" by Hilary Davidson (BEAT to a PULP: Round Two, May 2012)
  • "Dead Weight" by Allan Leverone (Burning Bridges: A Renegade Fiction Anthology, April 2012)
  • "Nain Rouge" by Barbara Nadel (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, August 2012)
  • "Baby Boy" by Todd Robinson (Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT, September 2012)


BEST LONG STORY (4,001 - 8,000 words):

  • "The Pot Hunters" by David Hagerty (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, June 2012)
  • "A Regular Story" by Peggy McFarland (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon, Level Best Books, November 2012)
  • "Peaches" by Todd Robinson (Grift #1, April 2012)
  • "When Duty Calls" by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder, 2012)
  • "Double Wedding" Mo Walsh (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon, Level Best Books, November 2012)

BEST NOVELETTE (8,001 - 20,000 words):

  • "Wood-Smoke Boys" by Doug Allyn (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2012)
  • "Iphigenia in Aulis" by Mike Carey (An Apple for the Creature, September 2012)
  • "Mariel" by David Dean (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, December 2012)
  • "Pirate Dave and the Captain's Ghost" by Toni L.P. Kelner (An Apple for the Creature, September 2012)
  • "The Sunny South" by Chris Muessig (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2012)

EDWARD D. HOCH MEMORIAL GOLDEN DERRINGER FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

  • Loren D. Estleman



NBS Special Report: 2013 Derringer Finalists

2013-03-04T06:09:34.658-06:00

As determined by volunteer judges from the Short Mystery Fiction Society and announced by SMFS Awards Coordinator Anthony Rudzki:

BEST FLASH STORY (Up to 1,000 words):

  • "An Old-Fashioned Villain" by Nick Andreychuk (Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, May 2012)
  • "The Cable Job" by Randy DeWitt (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, September 2012)
  • "Dead Man" by A.J. Hayes (Off The Record 2: At The Movies, September 2012)
  • "Daddy's Girl" by Nicola Kennington (The Flash Fiction Offensive, July 22, 2012)
  • "Twas the Knife Before Christmas" by Allan Leverone (Shotgun Honey, December 24, 2012)


BEST SHORT STORY (1,001 - 4,000 words):

  • "Getting Out of the Box" by Michael Bracken (Crime Square, Vantage Point, 2012)
  • "A Special Kind of Hell" by Hilary Davidson (BEAT to a PULP: Round Two, May 2012)
  • "Dead Weight" by Allan Leverone (Burning Bridges: A Renegade Fiction Anthology, April 2012)
  • "Nain Rouge" by Barbara Nadel (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, August 2012)
  • "Baby Boy" by Todd Robinson (Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT, September 2012)


BEST LONG STORY (4,001 - 8,000 words):

  • "The Pot Hunters" by David Hagerty (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, June 2012)
  • "A Regular Story" by Peggy McFarland (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon, Level Best Books, November 2012)
  • "Peaches" by Todd Robinson (Grift #1, April 2012)
  • "When Duty Calls" by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder, 2012)
  • "Double Wedding" Mo Walsh (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon, Level Best Books, November 2012)

BEST NOVELETTE (8,001 - 20,000 words):

  • "Wood-Smoke Boys" by Doug Allyn (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2012)
  • "Iphigenia in Aulis" by Mike Carey (An Apple for the Creature, September 2012)
  • "Mariel" by David Dean (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, December 2012)
  • "Pirate Dave and the Captain's Ghost" by Toni L.P. Kelner (An Apple for the Creature, September 2012)
  • "The Sunny South" by Chris Muessig (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2012)

The 2013 Derringer winners will be determined by a March 1–30 poll of eligible SMFS members and will be announced March 31.



"Knife Fight" by Joel Goldman

2012-11-13T07:14:44.315-06:00

Originally published in the Mystery Writers of America anthology The Prosecution Rests and now available for Amazon Kindle, "Knife Fight" is engagingly told by defendant Travis Runnels, a previously convicted drug dealer, now on trial for the fatal stabbing of Diego Hernandez.

The story unfolds as Travis meets with public defender Alex Stone and follows her performance in court. When the case turns against Travis, he accuses Alex of using what he's told her in confidence to pursue her own agenda.

Former trial lawyer Goldman so enjoyed writing Alex Stone, he expanded her into a novel series, the first of which, Stone Cold, is due out next month.



"The Big O" by Vicki Hendricks

2012-08-07T17:12:00.452-05:00

From: A Hell of a Woman: An Anthology of Female Noir ed. Megan Abbott, Busted Flush Press, 2007

If you're a fan of Hendricks's sexy noir novels as I am, the title of this story may fool you, too. "The Big O" refers to Florida's Lake Okeechobee, where protagonist Candy flees, trying to provide a better life than her year-old son, Chance, would've had with his abusive father.

True to noir, Candy lands in another abusive relationship with trailer park owner Jimmy. As a a hurricane bears down, Candy hatches a plot to kill Jimmy and steal his stash of drug money. Just right for a hot summer afternoon.



His Daughter's Island by Brendan DuBois

2012-05-23T18:48:39.530-05:00

The current Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (July 2012) has this nifty story by past master Brendan DuBois. DuBois has taken home Barry and Shamus awards and been nominated several times for Edgar awards, so the story was never going to be a bad one, but this one was more than competent; it was touching.

Zach Ford is a father whose daugther died on a private island in the middle of a giant lake. She was invited to a party by the son of the richest man in town and who could resist the lure of the swankiest address in the state? Some alcohol, a pill slipped to her, and then she's no more. That's it. An accident, the coroner will say, and the father of the rich boy slips his son out of the country. What can her father do? How can he even begin to seek Justice for his daughter if the law refuses to be on his side? And how can he get closure without Justice?

Want to know how he goes about things? Get a copy of the story.



Shanks Commences by Robert Lopresti

2012-04-03T12:02:06.790-05:00

(Cough. Cough. Clear away the cobwebs...)
It's been a while, but here's a review. A fine story by one of my favorite storytellers, Robert Lopresti - "Shanks Commences." If you don't know Shanks is Lopresti's series character - a mystery writer who solves mysteries he comes across/stumbles over. In this case, the stumbling happens on a college campus. Shanks is there to receive and honorary degree, give a commencement address, and, most importantly, donate some of his books to the school's library. The librarian had been a professor - gave Shanks a D in English and looks down his nose at the man now regardless of Shanks' success as an author. Lots of people might want him dead. And dead is how he's ultimately found.

Is Shanks a suspect? Well, he has to be at first, but don't worry. He's more into helping to uncover the real killer. And with a witty repartee with his wife, and some smart alecky remarks to the official detective in charge of the investigation, this is exactly what he does. In any event, this is a humorous story in the current Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Note also that Lopresti is a college librarian himself...



"Remaindered" by Lee Goldberg

2012-01-04T18:23:51.512-06:00

From: Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, August 2001.

Thriller writer Kevin Dangler—whose second and third books sank under the weight of bad reviews—meets Megan, an alluring librarian whose attention entices him into a night of passion.

When Megan proves eager to spread the news of her night with the married Kevin, he snaps and inadvertently beats her to death. Luckily finding a book on forensics among Megan's shelves, Kevin meticulously cleans up the evidence of his crime, but one detail does him in.

"Remaindered" shows off Goldberg's experience in publishing, his wry sense of humor, and the attention to detail that serves him well as author of the Monk tie-in novels. The story is available as a free Kindle download this week only. The ebook includes a link and password to watch a 20-minute short film based on "Remaindered", directed by Goldberg.



Nasty. Brutish. Short. Mobile.

2011-11-22T04:24:27.083-06:00

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