Saturday, November 15, 2014

"A Visit to the One-Eyed Man" by Bill Crider

From NoirCon and Out of the Gutter Present Noir Riot, Volume 1 (September 2014)

Fellow NBS reviewer Bill Crider and I have work published in the inaugural issue of Noir Riot, the print journal of Philadelphia's biennial noir convention, NoirCon.

Bill's story opens with the narrator surprised by his homicidal brother, Don, at a cafe. Don and two thugs force him out of the cafe into a car for the proverbial drive into the country where they plan to kill him. Don explains that the narrator has been seen in the company of a crime boss's wife, and said boss, The One-Eyed Man, can't abide that.

Bill peppers the drive with bits of the brothers' history. For instance, this isn't the first attempt Don has made on the narrator's life. That was a a car accident that resulted in the insertion of a metal plate in the narrator's skull and talk of brain damage that the narrator dismisses, but that led me to be careful believing his side of the story.

Buckle up for a twisty ride.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Very Old Man by Jenny Milchman

Creepy. Let's start with that.

"The man looked older than God or the Devil."

Okay so you're in a supermarket and this old man shambles over to your cart where your 9 month old baby is holding herself steady in the seat, but just barely. He gives the girl a dirty old quarter, gives her leg a shake, mumbles a few words. Creeped out? Or do you think the whole episode is harmless? Assume creeped out since your daughter doesn't look/act quite the same afterwards. What next? Are there steps to take to ward off bad old man juju?

I won't tell you what the mother, Denise, ultimately does. That would break the #1 rule of reviewing. But I can say the story is a very nice bit of character development hinging on Denise's reaction to that initial encounter in the supermarket.

This story is in the latest issue (July 2014) of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and if you like it, you might want to look up her latest novel: RUIN FALLS from Ballantine Books. Or visit the author at her website.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

"The Courier" by Dan Fesperman

In Agents of Treachery, ed. Otto Penzler, Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2010.

In 1958, former B-17 gunner and spy Bill Tobin is working at the Federal Records Center, tasked with deciding which documents from World War II get burned, declassified, or locked away, when he comes across the file on Lieutenant Seymour Parker. Shot down during his first mission, Parker was captured by the Swiss and recruited by Tobin because he seemed the sort who would crack if interrogated by the Germans. Allen Dulles and the OSS intended to use Parker to pass bad intelligence to the Germans about U.S. troop movements.

I was drawn into the story as Tobin read the file and recalled his own recruitment by Dulles, and his part in setting Parker up as bait for the Germans. I learned along with Tobin what became of Parker after he was handed over to the Germans in a prisoner exchange fourteen years earlier. Fesperman makes good use of the file to frame this story, and of Tobin's current position to bring about some closure.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

NBS Special Report: 2014 SMFS Derringer Finalists

The Short Mystery Fiction Society has announced the finalists for its 2014 Derringer Awards as determined by SMFS member volunteer judges:

For Best Flash (Up to 1,000 words)
  • "Final Statement" by Robert Bailey (The Flash Fiction Offensive, July 18, 2013)
  • "Not My Day" by Stephen Buehler (Last Exit to Murder, Down & Out Books, June 2013)
  • "The Needle and the Spoon" by Allan Leverone (Shotgun Honey, November 15, 2013)
  • "Luck is What You Make" by Stephen D. Rogers (Crime Factory, May 2013)
  • "Terry Tenderloin and the Pig Thief" by John Weagly (Shotgun Honey, June 21, 2013)

For Best Short Story (1,001–4,000 words)
  • "Pretty Little Things" by Chris F. Holm (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, July 2013)
  • "The Present" by Robert Lopresti (The Strand Magazine, February-May 2013)
  • "The Sweetheart Scamster" by Rosemary McCracken (Thirteen by the Mesdames of Mayhem, August 2013)
  • "The Little Outlaw" by Mike Miner (Plan B Magazine, August 9, 2013)
  • "The Cemetery Man" by Bill Pronzini (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, July 2013)

For Best Long Story (4,001–8,000 words)
  • "Myrna!" by John Bubar (Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold, Level Best Books, September 2013)
  • "Bloody Signorina" by Joseph D'Agnese (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, September 2013)
  • "Give Me a Dollar" by Ray Daniel (Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold, Level Best Books, September 2013)
  • "Dance Man" by Andrew Jetarski (Last Exit to Murder, Down & Out Books, June 2013)
  • "A Dangerous Life" by Adam Purple (Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold, Level Best Books, September 2013)

For Best Novelette (8,001–20,000 words)
  • "The Serpent Beneath the Flower" by Jack Bates (Mind Wings Audio, April 2013)
  • "The Goddaughter's Revenge" by Melodie Campbell (Orca Rapid Reads, October 2013)
  • "For Love's Sake" by O'Neil De Noux (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, July/August 2013)
  • "The Antiquary's Wife" by William Burton McCormick (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March 2013)
  • "Last Night in Cannes" by James L. Ross (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, November 2013)

Finalists may obtain certificates of achievement by emailing SMFS Vice President Gerald So (G_SO at YAHOO dot COM).

SMFS members in good standing since December 31, 2013 vote to determine the winner in each category March 1–30, 2014. The winners will be announced Monday, March 31, 2014.

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Class Reunion" by Robb White

This week's story at BEAT to a PULP is told from the viewpoint of "Pig" Piglowski attending his twenty-year high school reunion in East Palestine, Ohio. White sets a dark tone from the second paragraph as Pig remembers his best friend from high school, Joey Soliday. The poorest of the poor in East Palestine, Joey's father was blinded in a glass factory explosion. His sister's life mysteriously went off the rails until she died of an apparent overdose.

"Class Reunion" stands out to me because Pig doesn't drive the action. He remembers unreliably or hears information secondhand months or years later. While it made me feel helpless, this conceit also kept me intrigued and in suspense.

Having first read Robb White's work years ago, submitted under the name Terry White to Thrilling Detective, I'm happy to be reunited.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

NBS Special Report: 2014 MWA Edgar Awards

Mystery Writers of America today announced the nominees for the 2014 Edgar Allan Poe Award nominees, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television, published or produced in 2013. Here are the nominees for Best Short Story:

  • "The Terminal" – Kwik Krimes by Reed Farrel Coleman (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
  • "So Long, Chief" – Strand Magazine by Max Allan Collins & Mickey Spillane (The Strand)
  • "The Caxton Lending Library & Book Depository” – Bibliomysteries by John Connolly (Mysterious)
  • "There are Roads in the Water" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Tina Corey (Dell Magazines)
  • "Where That Morning Sun Goes Down" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Tim L. Williams (Dell Magazines)

and the winner of the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Short Story by an American Author:

  • "The Wentworth Letter" – Criminal Element's Malfeasance Occasional by Jeff Soloway (St. Martin's Press)

Congratulations and good luck to all. Awards will be presented to the winners at the 68th Edgar® Awards Banquet on May 1, 2014.