Monday, April 30, 2007

"Number 19" by Naomi Hirahara

From: Los Angeles Noir, ed. Denise Hamilton, Akashic Books, 2007.

After visiting a spa in L.A.'s Koreatown, Ann, a waitress, becomes curious about her masseuse, identified only as Number 19. After a rejuvenating salt scrub, Ann wants to make sure Number 19 receives all her tip money. What begins as curiosity and earnest concern ends badly for Ann, but worse for the spa manager she confronts.

Friday, April 27, 2007

NBS Special Report: Best Short Story Edgar

Announced last night, the Mystery Writers of America's Best Short Story Award went to "The Home Front" by Charles Ardai. Congratulations, Charles.

The full list of nominees is here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

"New Lots Avenue" by Nelson George

From: Brooklyn Noir, ed. Tim McLoughlin. Akashic Books, 2004.

Walking home from the grocery store, Cynthia Green is roped into a conversation with her cousin Johnny, a cop from Queens living well in Jersey thanks to his work with the DEA. As they update each other on the past two years, Johnny reveals he is looking for a neighbor of Cynthia's, a Puerto Rican drug dealer called Victorious.

In four powerful pages, filmmaker George shows that Cynthia and Johnny may be family, but for her, the neighborhood's collective struggle is the stronger bond.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"Second Story Sunlight" by John Lutz

From: Most Wanted, ed. Robert J. Randisi. Signet, 2002.

In this original story from an anthology featuring past presidents of the Private Eye Writers of America, everyman St. Louis P.I. Alo Nudger is hired by the owner of the donut shop below his office to find out who murdered an up-and-coming artist.

The tone is medium-boiled, the pace leisured. The treat here is getting to know Alo, his friends, and his surroundings. For all his idiosyncrasies and markedly un-macho approach, Nudger is dogged when it counts and he gets results.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Around Here by Keith Gilman

I'm ashamed to say it, but I'd never read a Thuglit story until I wandered over to the site today. Keith Gilman's story jumped out at me. It is the story of a local bad boy made good - he became a cop, but still has friends in the old neighborhood. In fact, his friends are a bit jumpy about him making a transition like this. After all, he knows where all the bodies are buried and how the skeletons got in the closets.

Now, with this story, I thought for sure I knew how it was going to end. There are, after all, only so many options. But Mr. Gilman found an option that I hadn't quite considered and that made the story for me. Mind you, my admiration for the story isn't just the plot which had a twist when I didn't think it could. The writing at the sentence level was smooth as silk. Good, self-assured prose is hard to find and Mr. Gilman has it in stock.

Check out the story, then tool around the rest of the issue. It's free, but valuable.

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Dead Storage" by Christine Kling

From: Miami Noir, ed. Les Standiford. Akashic Books, 2006.

When her mother leaves, sixteen-year-old Kate is forced to live in a trailer park where she is sexually abused by her father. Pulled out of school, Kate spends most of her time reading novels, making up stories that she weaves into elaborate lies to the neighbors.

Despite this story's brevity, I quickly empathized with Kate and wondered if and how she would turn the tables on her father.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

NBS Special Report: 2007 Derringer Finalists

Stories by NBS's own Bill Crider and Steven Torres have reached the finals for the 2007 Derringer Awards as announced by Short Mystery Fiction Society:

FLASH FICTION (up to 500 words)

Jan Christensen, “Matched Set“ (Long Story Short, Winter, 2006)
Barry Ergang, “Vigilante” (Mysterical-E, Summer 2006)
Michelle Mach, “Snowflake Therapy” (Thereby Hangs a Tale, June 2006)
Jill Maser, “Flight School” (Flashshots. August 28, 2006)
Sandra Seamans, “Home Entertainment” (A Cruel World, July/August 2006)

SHORT-SHORT STORIES (501 - 2,000 words)

Gail Farrelly, “Even Steven” (Mouth Full of Bullets, Winter 2006)
John M. Floyd, “Four For Dinner” (Seven by Seven)
Justin Gustainis, “Interview” (Cape Fear Crime Festival, October, 2006)
Steven Torres, “Elena Speaks of the City, Under Siege” (Crimespree Magazine September/October 2006)
Frank Zafiro, “The Worst Door” (Dispatch, January 2006)

MID-LENGTH STORIES (2,001 - 6,000 words)

David Bareford, “Eden’s Bodyguard” (Thuglit, September 2006)
Rex Burns, “Shadow People” (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, June 2006)
Bill Crider, “Cranked” (Damn Near Dead: An Anthology of Geezer Noir)
Robert S. Levinson, “Uncle Blinky’s Corner of the World” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March/April 2006)
Robert Lopresti, “Shanks on the Prowl” (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May 2006)

LONGER STORIES (6,001 - 15,000 words)

Annette Dashofy, “Signature in Blood” (Mysterical-E, Winter 2006)
Julie Hyzy, “Strictly Business” (These Guns for Hire)
Stuart MacBride, “Daphne MacAndrews and the Smack-Head Junkies” (Damn Near Dead: An Anthology of Geezer Noir)
Larry Sweazy, “See Also Murder” (Amazon Shorts, December 11, 2006)
Steven Torres, “The Valley of Angustias” (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, October 2006)

Members of the SMFS begin voting today to determine the winners, which will be announced May 15, 2007.

Congrats and good luck, Bill and Steven.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

"Misdirection" by Barbara Seranella

From: Greatest Hits: Original Stories of Assassins, Hit Men, and Hired Guns, ed. Robert J. Randisi, Carroll and Graf, 2005

In this Anthony award-winning story, a senior FBI agent arranges to move two convicted hitwomen, Trinity and Cass, into the same cell. He promises both women help toward their freedom if each can get information on the other's hits. Trinity is anxious to win back her woman on the outside. Cass wants to retrieve a money stash. The agent, meanwhile, has no intention of granting either her freedom. He plans to use any information he gets to bring new charges against the women.

Barbara Seranella was one of few writers to successfully transition from wild youth to wise adulthood. Her crime fiction shows the authenticity of an adventurous life and enthusiasm for having survived. I regret that she didn't get to publish more short fiction.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dream House by Christa M. Miller

Tammy and Lester have a new house. The only problem is that it needs to be cleaned up before they can move in. Oh, and the cleaning needs to be done at that no one can see them coming and/or going. Oh, and what's that in the bathtub? Or on the bathroom ceiling? This story oozes with atmosphere (among other things). The amazing thing about it, however, is how far Tammy is willing to go in supporting Lester who happens to really need her at this juncture in their relationship... though there is every evidence that things have not always gone well between them. I think it is a hard thing to draw a character like Tammy and make them believeable, but Miller pulls it off.

At the end of the story, Tammy hits her limit with Lester and the house he has struggled to get for her, but how she snaps is something you should read to find out. Enjoy.