12/20/2018 0 Comments
Short Story Reviews
As little leisure time as I've had lately, there is still plenty of material in the generous collection of short stories, Shhhh... Murder! and the November / December issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I enjoyed four stories during my recent reading. Both the anthology and the magazine would make great gifts for the mystery readers in your life.
Mistress of the Mickey Finn by Elaine Viets
Viets writes one of my favorite cozy mystery series, Dead End Jobs. I was happy to see a story in AHMM starring Helen and Phil. The setting, weather, and culture are solidly south Florida. An obnoxiously wealthy man hires the private investigators to track down his belongings, stolen after a beautiful woman slipped drugs into his drink. Helen and Phil enlist their chain-smoking elderly landlady Margery to trap the woman. What should be a simple case of course becomes dangerous, because this is Helen, and she always manages to get herself into perilous situations.
Vet's Day by R. T. Lawton
Yarnell is minding his own business eating crab legs in a dive diner when his partner in crime Beaumont shows up. Lawton's humorous Holiday Burglars short story series follows these two characters who might be better off getting straight jobs. Their criminal activities rarely meet with success, but the reader enjoys many laughs watching them try. In this story, the holiday is Veteran's Day. Beaumont tells Yarnell about his stint in the Army, and a favor he owes to his Sergeant. Yarnell reluctantly agrees, and soon regrets his involvement springing a dog destined for euthanasia because Sarge can't pay the veterinarian bill. So Vet's Day has a double meaning. This is a very visual story, with lots of action, and plenty of laugh out loud moments. Previously published Holiday Burglar stories are available in a collection.
The Shhhh... Murder! cozy mystery anthology offers enough good reading to keep you happily tucked into an easy chair during the holidays. Set in libraries, or involving librarians, there is great variety in this collection.
Gotcha Covered by Kate Fellowes
An author holds her debut book signing in a small library. When a librarian's valuable collectible book cover goes missing, she uses her mystery-writer skills to solve the theft. This is a fun locked room mystery, and has all the elements cozy readers enjoy.
Map to Oblivion by K. M. Rockwood
A librarian will do anything to protect the books under her care. If you are annoyed by people who stare at their cell phone screens instead of watching where they're going, you will particularly enjoy this story.
There never seems to be enough time to read good stories. I hope you sneak a little time to yourself during this busy season, to curl up with a good book, magazine, or anthology. Happy holidays!
Our relatively safe city has been plagued by an invasion of porch pirates. These cowardly sneak thieves snatch packages delivered to homes. Due to citizens installing home security devices involving cameras, several arrests were made recently. I hope these bold and yet pathetic criminals have been stopped.
Here's the police blotter report:
"The Colorado Springs Police Department’s Strategic Investigations Unit (SIU), in collaboration with the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Crime Analysis Unit (CAU), targeted a Porch Pirate Crime Pattern after several neighborhoods experienced an increase related to home deliveries this holiday season. Utilizing home security footage submitted via apps and websites such as Ring and Nextdoor, SIU and CAU were able to identify and arrest five individuals over the last 48 hours. In some instances, officers were able to recover some stolen property and return it to the victims. The success of this investigation is largely due to the amount of quality security video provided by victims and community members. This is an example of how important it is for the police and the community we serve to partner when crime is observed and/or recorded. Please be a good witness and do not make direct contact with suspects."
Speaking of bold and pathetic, another type of coward siphons gas from vehicles. Short story author R. T. Lawton recently had a writing session interrupted by attempted thievery. You can read about the gas thief, and see photos of the theft in process, on the SleuthSayers blog. That idiot didn't know who he was messing with!
New technology influences crime fiction. How do you strand a heroine when readers believe we have constant and reliable cell phone service? Immediate 911 capability? Cell phone cameras with amazing clarity, and the ability to text or email the photos or video to the police? Now private homes can have security cameras and alarms at affordable prices. How are criminals going to get away with their nefarious activities in this day and age?
Apparently with face masks and boldness.
The most pathetic and evil thieves prey on the elderly. Older women are terrible about leaving gaped open purses in shopping carts. I used to do my grocery shopping with my mother, but now stand guard over her while she shops. If anyone tries to steal Mom's wallet, I will take down that scum bag with the fury of a rapid wolverine. She was impressed one evening when a perfectly healthy and capable looking beggar approached us in the grocery store parking lot. I gave them a verbal smack-down. I am disgusted by panhandlers who try to intimidate women into giving them money. I'll give you something. And you won't like it.
Law abiding citizens must be on high alert, sadly. Be aware of your surroundings. Friend your local police department's Facebook page to receive alerts and info on the current threats. Don't be a victim! And if you're really smart, live near folks like R. T. Lawton and his wife. They're keeping an eye out for porch pirates, gas thieves, and other pathetic criminals.
12/13/2018 0 Comments
Short Story Reviews
I'm enjoying an increase in precious reading time, now that the weather has curtailed outdoor activities. If you subscribe to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, you've probably already consumed the November/December 2018 issue. It has just recently risen to the top of my TBR pile (To Be Read).
The Furious Cat, by Susan Thibadeau
An eye-catching illustration greets the reader. Part of the appeal of this story is the recurring appearance of Marlowe, a cat. I'm a sucker for stories with cats. What makes the story even more fun is that Marlowe is a horrible cat, ready to attack for no apparent reason. Marlowe has recently lost his human companion, and is left to Mrs. Griffin, housekeeper to Jake and his brother Harry. The men decide they must solve the suspicious death of Marlowe's owner when the police turn their focus to Mrs. Griffin as a suspect with more than a cat to gain.
As we approach the winter solstice, the days growing shorter and the nights longer, it can be a struggle to stay awake in the early evenings. The dark just makes me want to go to sleep. One benefit is feeling no guilt about curling up with a good fiction read.
Here's another link (see previous post for more) to free short fiction. Kings River Life is a great source for mystery book reviews and short stories. Happy reading!
12/11/2018 1 Comment
Linda Landrigan, editor of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, receives the Mystery Writers of America Ellery Queen award.
"The Ellery Queen Award was established in 1983 to honor “outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry.” This year the Board chose to honor Linda Landrigan. Ms. Landrigan came to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine in 1997 as an associate editor and has been its editor since 2002. Under her leadership, the magazine has not only continued to thrive but has also navigated dramatic changes in the publishing industry—she has overseen the introduction of AHHM in digital formats as well as the creation of a podcast series featuring audio recordings of stories from the magazine as well as interviews with authors."
It's not an easy task to keep a print magazine (now digital also) going in this tough publishing climate. And to top it off, Ms. Landrigan is such a genuinely nice person! Congratulations!
The final installment of the Gladys Mitchell reading group concluded earlier this month. I had a fun experience. I don't have time for a traditional reading group or book club. This offered the chance to hear the impressions of other readers to this classic mystery author without having to physically meet with people.
Our host and guide Jason Half proposes to have another Gladys Mitchell group read in 2019.
Subscribe to this blog: