Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shanks Gets Killed by Robert Lopresti

Robert Lopresti writes several series of short stories for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and has been nominated for and won a Derringer Award. Shanks is a mystery writer who winds up solving crimes. Like a lot of real writers, Shanks is a bit on the surly side and with a biting sense of humor. In this story, he has been dragooned into a mystery weekend at a resort where he's supposed to be the celebrity author and get whacked on the first night - this means he doesn't have much to do.

Then the grand prize, a first edition of The Maltese Falcon, goes missing and Shanks is dragooned again. After all, if he's not busy acting a part, he might as well save the resort the trouble and fuss of having the police around bothering guests. Of course, he gets to the bottom of it all, but how he does it and the humor that goes into the interrogations he has to conduct make the story worth the read.

In the process of solving the crime, Shanks gives the reader a glimpse into a subset of the mystery world I hadn't really considered before. Are people really that competitive when they go to a bed and breakfast for those mystery weekends? I hope that's a product of Lopresti's imagination.

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