Friday, August 29, 2008

"Bottom Deal" by Robert Gregory Browne

From: Killer Year ed. Lee Child. St. Martin's, 2008.

Ex-cop, compulsive gambler, and amateur Vegas magician Nick Jennings extends himself when his friend Holly Addison calls him out of the blue. He's too late to keep her from being shot to death, but he's determined to find out why she was killed. Browne's Killer Year entry combines engaging characters, a meaty plot, and brisk pace.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Suicide Blonde" by Brian Thornton

From: Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, November 2008

In 1960s Las Vegas, Sean Murphy, a lawyer/fixer on retainer with the outfit, is called when his boss's brother, Eddie, finds his neighbor dead after a night of drinking. Murphy must piece together what happened, who the woman is, and how to keep his clients out of it. A clever hardboiled mystery.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Friday Night Luck" by Edward D. Hoch

From: The Blue Religion ed. Michael Connelly. Little Brown and Company, 2008.

Working on a crime-scene cleanup crew, Will Blackstone aspires to be a police detective. His chances dim when he's caught smoking marijuana during a shift as a citizen volunteer, but on a whim he decides not to turn in his uniform and badge, and no one keeps after him about it.

Some days later, while cleaning up an apparent double-murder, Blackstone finds an address book the police have missed. The book leads him to believe the second man isn't dead. Blackstone does his best to investigate, imperiling himself in the process. A well-served blend of optimism and realism.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"The Quick Brown Fox" by Robert S. Levinson

From: Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, October 2008.

Mired in the worst dry spell of his career, mystery writer Gus Ebersole is invited to teach creative writing to prison inmates. Taking the chance to be inspired, he accepts the job, and promptly plagiarizes the work of two inmates as his own. From the moment these stories are accepted to Crime & Punishment magazine, Ebersole fears the inmates will find out and take revenge on him.

Any writer can relate to the scenario, and Levinson uses its natural tension to great effect. Ebersole and I got not one, but two nasty surprises.

Monday, August 04, 2008

"Hungry Enough" by Cornelia Read

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

The fun of this Shamus-nominated story is in the effects of Read's chosen viewpoint and protagonist. Julia is twenty-five years old in 1959, an aspiring starlet turned secretary for a P.I. The story opens with Julia listening to her friend Kay complain about her producer husband's sexual idiosyncrasies. They arrive at Kay's house to find her husband crushed to death by one of his own kinky devices, and Julia calls on her boss, Philip, to try and unravel the mystery.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

NBS Special Report: 2008 Shamus Nominees for Best Short Story

As announced by the Private Eye Writers of America:

"Kill the Cat" by Loren D. Estleman, Detroit Noir (Akashic), featuring Amos Walker.

"Trust Me" by Loren D. Estleman, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, June 2007, featuring Amos Walker.

"Open Mike" by James Nolan, New Orleans Noir (Akashic), featuring Vincent Panarello.

“Hungry Enough" by Cornelia Read, A Hell of a Woman (Busted Flush Press), featuring Philip.

"Room for Improvement" by Marilyn Todd, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Dec. 2007, featuring Lois Hepburn.