Lucy Ann has had a bad year. Accustomed to having a man take care of her, she loses her husband to divorce, and her brother to a sudden illness. She slips into drinking leftover wine from her catering business and watching reality television, wishing she had an adventurous life, but doing nothing about it. Then out of the blue, she receives a letter from her former high school sweetheart Matthew. Lucy Ann has found a new man to take care of her. Or has she? Taking Care by Deborah Lacy appears in the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine May/June 2018 issue. Deborah runs the Mystery Playground blog, where you can find reviews and musings, and her inspiration for the story Taking Care.
I appear on the blog Mysteries and My Musings, where I talk about my appreciation for the reluctant amateur sleuth. http://mysterysuspence.blogspot.com/2018/05/author-guest-post-catherine-dilts.html
Just for fun - a link to an article listed on the Strand Magazine blog with M.L. Longworth's Top Ten Quotes from Writers.
I jumped into the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine May/June 2018 issue with Emily Devenport's 10,432 Serial Killers (In Hell). I am not a serial killer story fan, so it was with trepidation that I started reading. The story immediately upended my expectations.
Ernestine, a bus driver, tells Katie Thomas she can't board the bus with her pets, Peanut and Felix. Katie tells Ernestine she is fleeing the serial killer in her apartment. The story goes from ordinary to strange pretty quickly. The focus is on Katie, and her supposed knowledge of a local serial killer. Is she crazy? Or does she really have insider information on serial killers destined for Hell? You can read a story except here.
Next up, I read Blowout at the Carnival, by John H. Dirckx. The story features recurring characters Sergeant Dollinger and Lieutenant Auburn, investigating the death of a rigging crew worker killed while installing a ride at a carnival. I enjoyed the story, but also thought it interesting how different this story was from one in the previous issue, Fair Game, by Max Gersh. While Fair Game was a horror story, Blowout presents a murder mystery and the clues to solve whodunit. Two authors using the setting of a roadside carnival with entirely different results, in plot, characters, and tone. If you are interested in learning more about voice, read these two stories side by side.
Rather than review stories this week, I'm giving you a tip you won't want to pass up. During the month of May, Short Mystery Fiction Society members offer their online stories. Why pass up the opportunity for terrific free reading? You can catch up and keep up with the entire month of May here.
I'd like to point out a story by Jacqueline Seewald titled Bacon Bits. You can read William Burton McCormick's Cleopatran Cocktails here. Authors posting great stories that you may read for free. What's not to like? Have fun!
In Jan Karon's At Home in Mitford, Father Tim is directed by his doctor to take up jogging. I found his assessment of this physical activity amusing and accurate.
"He knew he didn't want to be seen doing this. First, he wanted to try it out, in a place where there was no traffic. And while he'd seen countless others running heedlessly along Main Street, he felt, somehow, that jogging was an intimate activity, accompanied by snorts, sweating, hawking and spitting, and an inordinate amount of huffing and puffing. Why in the world anyone would want to do that up and down the center of town was beyond him."
I've lost my inhibitions about running. Or at least, I haven't discovered any way to appear dignified while running. I'm not giving it up, though. My doctor also encourages running for health benefits. If Father Tim had kept jogging,, he might not have- but wait. You can find out for yourself in At Home in Mitford.
Historical fiction is tricky, in my opinion. Even more so, when you base a story on an actual historical figure. Leslie Budewitz handles both with a deft hand.
All God's Sparrows - A Stagecoach Mary Story appears in the May/June 2018 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. The protagonist is Mary Fields, who did exist - I checked - born into slavery, who moved to Montana with a group of nuns. I have a particular pet peeve with stories set in historically challenging time periods with characters espousing anachronistically modern sensibilities. Budewitz does a fabulous job of populating her story with people who are a product of the time period, yet who realistically strive for dignity in that world.
This is also a harshly realistic story. Stagecoach Mary runs across a girl on the desolate Montana prairie who is obviously being abused. She returns with a young nun in an attempt to bring light to the situation.
Although the setting and circumstances were rather bleak, I hope to see more stories from Budewitz based on this character. All in all, it was an uplifting tale, with fine writing. Despite all that happened, I was left with a sense of hope. That's the kind of story I enjoy.
I read two stories in the March/April issue of AHMM for which the authors have written articles for the Trace Evidence blog containing insights into their writing process:
Tom Larsen - Los Cantantes De Karaoke
Dana Carr - Off-Off-Off Broadway
Spoiler alerts for both - you should read the story first.
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