Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NBS Special Report: Awards Roundup

A belated roundup of the short story awards announced at Bouchercon, as seen on Jiro Kimura's The Gumshoe Site:

The Shamus (Private Eye Writers of America)

Best P.I. Short Story: "Hungry Enough," by Cornelia Read (in A HELL OF A WOMAN, edited by Megan Abbott; Busted Flush Press)

The Anthony (as voted by attendees of Bouchercon 2008)

Best Short Story: "Hardly Knew Her," by Laura Lippman (in DEAD MAN'S HAND, edited by Otto Penzler; Harcourt)

The Barry (presented jointly by Deadly Pleaures Mystery Magazine and Mystery News)

Best Short Story: "The Problem of the Summer Snowman," by Edward D. Hoch (Ellery "Queen's Mystery Magazine, November 2007)

The Macavity (presented by Mystery Readers International)

Best Mystery Short Story: "Please Watch Your Step," by Rhys Bowen (The Strand Magazine #21, Feb-May 2007)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"The Other Side of the Mirror" by Eric Van Lustbader

From: Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night ed. James Patterson. Mira, 2006.

This anthology of shorts by thriller writers is up for discussion on DetecToday next month, and I was lucky to find it on Mystery Loves Company's table in the book room at Bouchercon. I was curious whether thriller writers, known for their sprawling plots and over-the-top prose, would succeed at short stories, wherein much has to be condensed and focused.

In Van Lustbader's story, a spy on the verge of a nervous breakdown is hiding from his enemies in a seedy Buenos Aires hotel room. He reflects on how he was drawn to spycraft by his wife's death. As their love story plays back for readers, we realize his love can turn to jealousy instantly. In fact, he turns out to be a most unreliable narrator.

I found that despite the story's relative brevity (twenty pages), it still featured excess verbiage and false-sounding dialogue, the two main traits that turn me off from thrillers. That said, I have to admit I kept reading as the spy's mind slip out from under him.

Monday, October 06, 2008

"Promise" by John Harvey

From: Murder is My Racquet, ed. Otto Penzler. Mysterious Press, 2005.

Harvey's former footballer P.I. Jack Kiley is hired when British tennis star Victoria Clarke is blackmailed to pay a quarter of a million pounds or have the existence of a daughter she had at age fifteen exposed. While Kiley is an able tough guy who does get to work out some aggression in this story, the resolution is nicely downbeat and plausible. "Promise" is a glimpse into Kiley's life that makes me want to see more.