Thursday, March 15, 2018

"The Public Hero" by Robert S. Levinson

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, January-February 2018, p. 168-177

Linda Landrigan of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Janet Rudolph of Mystery Readers International spread the word that Los Angeles reporter, public relations executive, producer, and crime fiction writer Robert S. Levinson died March 13 from pneumonia.

Having enjoyed Bob's Neil Gulliver & Stevie Marriner novels, I got to know him as a fellow member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, where his stories received three Derringer Award nominations and one win.

His most recent EQMM story follows 1979 Hollywood P.I. Rufus Reed, his quick shooting having foiled a bank robbery. Notoriety gets him hired as security for Sky Diver and the Sky Dwellers. He's with the band when an armed intruder gets to them, charging plagiarism. Though that incident lands Rufus in the hospital, he's approached by a man who offers to make him the subject of a movie.

Like much of Bob's fiction, "The Public Hero" is steeped in Hollywood lore. Its outcome particularly shows that even the savviest person can be taken with such glamorous promise.

Monday, March 12, 2018

"The Lighthouse and the Lamp" by William Dylan Powell

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, January-February 2018, p. 31–42

William Dylan Powell
Unlicensed Corpus Christi, Texas P.I. Billy is intrigued when his elderly friend Clarabelle Mayhew claims to have a true-to-legend, wish-granting magic lamp. Despite Clarabelle's certainty her wishes came true by magic—including $1 million cash on her doorstep—Billy remains skeptical. He talks Clarabelle into letting him observe covertly when she makes her next wish.

Though, as Billy suspects, there's no magic involved, "The Lighthouse and the Lamp" stands out to me because there's no crime, either, but quite a mystery.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

"The Avenging Angel" by John Lantigua

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March-April 2018, p. 91–100

Remembering journalist Lantigua's Willie Cuesta P.I. novels, I'm pleased to see Willie in the pages of EQMM. In this case, he's hired by Carlos Miranda, a former El Salvadoran gang member who has fled to Miami's Little Havana to reform, but who is paranoid the gang has sent an "avenging angel" to kill him.

Finding that Carlos's suspect also claims he only wants to reform, Willie brokers a meeting between them, but remains wary of trusting either, as must readers.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

"Victory Garden" by G.M. Malliet

G.M. Malliet
photo by Joe Henson
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March-April 2018, p. 69-72

The current issue of EQMM includes a number of very short stories that pack surprising punch.

For much of this one, set in the middle of World War II, protagonist Carol presents herself the type of woman who would never divorce overweight, overbearing Silas, despite years of mistreatment.

Her veil of concern for the societal norms of the time obscures Carol's feelings and plans from other characters and readers alike until the very last word.