Sunday, January 06, 2008

"Skull and Cross Examination" by Toni Kelner

From Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, February 2008

Pirates were and nasty and brutish, right? And some of them were probably short. So this story is certainly appropriate for the venue.

I don't believe I've ever seen a pirate story in EQMM before, and it's been a while since I read one anywhere. So it was a pleasure to run across this one. It's told in the form of a long letter home from a young man on his way to Jamaica where he hopes to establish himself as a lawyer. His father doesn't have a very high opinion of him or his chances.

Along the way, the ship he's on is attacked by pirates, and the crew and passengers are taken captive. That night, there's a murder, and the young man is called upon to be the lawyer for the accused at a trail to be held on shipboard.

This is an amusing, well-told tale, one I recommend for anybody who likes pirates, murder, or courtroom drama. This one has it all.

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