Thursday, October 28, 2021

Criminal Minds: Speaking of Dialogue… by James W. Ziskin

Criminal Minds: Speaking of Dialogue… by James W. Ziskin: “Dialogue is often hard to do right,” he said. Give us your tips for writing killer dialogue. 1.) Don’t make dialogue “realistic.” Rather, m...

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Murder on the Boat Deck (1941) by Vanno

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Murder on the Boat Deck (1941) by Vanno: During the first years of Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Bruna published two detective novels by an unknown, pseudonymous author, &quot...

Lesa's Book Critiques: WHAT ARE YOU READING?

 Lesa's Book Critiques: WHAT ARE YOU READING?

The Rap Sheet: Lover’s Big Leap

 The Rap Sheet: Lover’s Big Leap

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian: Reviewed by Christy             Mary Deerfield is a deeply unhappy woman. The twenty-four year old Puritan is the second wife to a seeming...

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Something Wicked This Way Comes: Ray Bradbury

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Something Wicked This Way Comes: Ray Bradbury: Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade are young boys, aged thirteen years old, and ready for some new experiences. Will is more cautious, Jim is ...

Patti Abbott: A Halloween Story: The Angel Deeb, published in Deadly Treats in 2011

 Patti Abbott: A Halloween Story: The Angel Deeb, published in Deadly Treats in 2011


Please welcome Laura Ware to the blog today… 



Laura Ware

            Over the past few years, I struggled with the most basic part of being a writer – sitting down and actually writing. It was a frustrating situation for me because I wanted to write. It’s something I believed I might be good at and knew I enjoyed.

            For a while, life kept getting in the way. I provided care for both my husband’s parents over those years, which drained me in all kinds of ways. Six months after my mother-in-law passed away, while I was still trying to figure things out, the pandemic hit. Again, I was knocked for a loop.

            On June 29th, 2020, I found myself participating in a “writing week” with some fellow wordsmiths. According to my records, I wrote 710 words that day.

            And sometime during that day I asked myself, “What if I just did this every day?”

            At first, I felt apprehensive. I’d tried a streak before, and it eventually petered out. How long could I go? And would it really make a difference this time?

            There was only one way to find out.

            I cut myself some slack by not having a minimum word count at first. If I got words on the page, it counted whether it was 10 or 1,000. One day in July I only eked out sixty-eight words. But they were new words, so they counted.

            What did I write?

            I worked on a novel or two, not finishing them but making progress. I revisited my love of short fiction and wrote short stories. I worked on my weekly column, something I’d maintained for over 20 years.

            And I noticed I wasn’t stopping.

            One thing I discovered in this adventure is that a streak, when it gets long enough, applies a kind of pressure on you. “You’ve written 100 days in a row,” it whispers to you when you’re tired and just want to go to bed. “You don’t want to quit now, do you?”

            And I’d grumble and gripe but head to the laptop anyway. And I made words.

           At the beginning of 2021, I decided to up the ante. I participated in a program from a mentor of mine called The Great Challenge. The challenge? To write a short story a week for 52 weeks in a row.

            I’d written short stories in a week before. But could I maintain that? Over a year? Was it possible to come up with fifty-two ideas in a year?

            Again, one way to find out. I took a deep breath and signed up.

            The short story challenge gave me words to write every day. Getting words done every day helped me get the stories done, though there have been more than a few late Sunday nights trying to meet the deadline.

            As I type this, I’ve written 477 days in a row. I’ve written when life was good, and when my father passed away. I’ve written when the words flowed and when I struggled to express myself. I’ve written during trips. Day after day I’ve managed to get words in – these days at least five hundred before I quit for the day.

            And I just turned in my 42nd short story for the challenge. Some of the stories have come to me with no trouble. For some I’ve had to beg my muse to give me something. But I’ve pulled it off forty-two times without a miss.

            What have I learned from this?

            For one thing, there is always time to write if I look for it. It may be as little as 15 minutes, but it’s there. The pressure of the streak helps motivate me to find that time and get those words typed.

            I’ve also learned I tend to write at night when it’s quiet in the house. Finding your ideal time to write is a useful tool in getting words out every day. Nighttime usually works for me, though I also want to train myself to write a little in the morning to get things started. But writing every day tends to show a pattern.

            And the words add up. My goal for 2021 was to write 200,000 words. I passed that goal sometime in August or September. My current goal is to hit 300,000 and based on my average word counts for the month I will probably pass that, too.

            A streak isn’t for everyone. But if you’re interested in trying it out, here are some tips to get you started.

n  Start small. If I had begun by pledging to write 1,000 words every day, I would have bailed on the streak within a week. Maybe you just want to write 10 minutes a day. Or you want to do a page (about 250 words) 5 days a week. The trick is to find something within reach and build on it as your streak grows.

n  Make it a priority. There will be all kinds of distractions to take you away from the page. Let those around you know this is important to you. Guard that time the best way you can.

n  Build a team. A team helps with tip #2 tremendously. Involve your family and friends. Let them keep you accountable. And pick people who will cheer your success.
I’m fortunate in that my husband is totally behind me in this. Before he goes to bed, he’ll ask if I’ve written yet, reminding me to get to the laptop. He even helped me at a family gathering by informing them that we would return in a couple of hours after I finished a story that was due. It helped that he backed me up in that, and my family had no issues with it.

n  Keep track. There are all kinds of way to keep track of your progress. I use two that work for me.
The first one is a spreadsheet designed by a fellow wordsmith that allows me to track my word count daily. It has columns for words written and time spent and calculates total words by month and year. It also lets me know my average daily word count and time spent and is helpful in charting my progress.
I also have a paper calendar that is on the wall across from my laptop. For every 250 words I write in a day, I get a foil star for that day. On days I write several thousand words, I put a few stars and pen in how many others I’d earned. It is cheering to see those squares fill up with stars day by day, knowing they represent new words.

There will probably come a time when my streak will end (my daily streak, that is. I’m determined to write those last 10 short stories) despite my best efforts.  Life happens, and something could come up that totally derails me. I will be sad when it happens. Then, after a day to have a pity party, I’ll start a new streak, hoping to beat the old one. And who knows? Chances are I will.

Streaks can be a powerful tool, and helpful to any writer trying to kickstart their production. If you have questions about it, or just need someone to tell you that you can do it, email me at And happy writing.


Laura Ware ©2021

Laura Ware’s column, “Laura’s Look,” appears weekly in the Highlands News-Sun and covers news items or ideas she can talk about for 600 words.  She is the author of a number of short stories and several novels.  Her short story collection Five Female Gumshoes recently came out.  Her essay, “Touched by an Angel,” appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness.  Laura lives in Central Florida.  Check out her website and sign up for her newsletter at

Wednesday, October 27, 2021



Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Cattle Kingdom, Boop and Eve's Road Road Trip, Perestroika in Paris, Denali

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Cattle Kingdom, Boop and Eve's Road Tr...: Reported by Garry  This week’s Nevermore book club selections included stories about road trips, cattle drives, talking animals and more. C...

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 35 Writing Contests in November - no entry fees

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Jerry's House of Everything: SHORT STORY WEDNESDAY: A USE FOR GENIUS by James F. Sullivan

Jerry's House of Everything: SHORT STORY WEDNESDAY: A USE FOR GENIUS:  "A Use for Genius" by James F. Sullivan  (first published in The Strand Magazine  #30, June 1893; included in his collection Quee...

Short Story Wednesday Review: The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes From The Panhandle To The Piney Woods Editor Michael Bracken

From the massive archive:


The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes From The Panhandle To The Piney Woods opens with a very short introduction by Editor Michael Bracken before moving on to the stories. First up is “Chasing The Straight” by Trey R. Barker. Derrick Kruse is a bit different than most private investigators and knows more than he would like about domestic violence and abuse. His latest case involving Billie Vogan is a case that came to him during the weekly poker game. Now that he knows about it, Derrick and the voices in his head have a problem that must be fixed.


William Dylan Powell takes readers to 1984 in Corpus Christi in his tale “The Haunted Railcar.” Our private investigator has his own boat and is working on it when Dell McClendon shows up. Not only does Dell arrive in full clown make up which will set the dog off, as he knows, he really should have stopped walking up the pier when told to stop. Sure, he would still have the problem that caused the visit to the boat, but Dell McClendon would also still have his own nose fully intact.


A murder is rare in Robertson County. They have one this Thursday morning in November at the Camp Hearne Historical Site. In “The Yellow Rose of Texas” by Josh Pachter, the local High School English Teacher, Elsie Jordan, is dead and probably from strangulation. Helmut Erhard, a private investigator, found the body while on another matter. Finding the body made it very personal for him and he is not about to just let the local law handle it.


Like her father before her, Nicky Moran is a private investigator based in Fort Worth who uses a special bar stool at the legendary Billy Bob’s as the office. “In Cowtown” by Robert S. Levinson the client is one Mr. Jergens who likes to be referred to as “Slim.” The client believes that somebody is out to murder him and is very sure about the identity of the suspect. The suspect has one heck of a motive and the local law is not moving on the case. Nicky does not come cheap, the client is more than willing to pay and has the funds, and she is soon on the case.


Houston is the setting for “Harvey and the Redhead” by Debra H. Goldstein. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It is not necessarily a good thing to be carrying around the name of “Harvey.” Yet the detective is, and while pretty much everything the detective owned has been destroyed, the bills still must be paid. The latest client is Olive Twist, part of the legendary Twist Realty and Developments. A family with money, contacts, and resources, she wants a painting returned to her and wants it done discreetly for numerous reasons.


The former Texas Ranger works now and then as a process server and/or private investigator after more than thirty-two years as part of the legendary local law enforcement agency, Texas Rangers. Huck Spence is just trying to stave off boredom in “See Humble And Die” by Richard Helms. His latest case is to find “Ralph Oakley” and it should be easy enough to find him.


Sitting surveillance on a place deep in the night gets boring as one fights to stay awake and focus on the matter at hand. Such is the situation for the private detective in “No One Owns The Blues” by Scott Montgomery. The years have passed, and a lot has happened, but Sharon Turner, still has a hold over him. A singer and a good one, she has a complicated relationship with her current financial backer. She wants him checked out in this tale set in Austin.


Colt Colton just got hired to trace the history of some cars recovered from the Houston area in the aftermath of the Hurricane. He’s from Gary, Indiana originally. But, eight years in the Dallas PD working in the Auto Theft Division means he is very good at tracing cars and finding owners. Tracking down Porter Shackleton of PS Services in Hempstead should be easy enough though the recovery company has tried the easy way in “Shaft on Wheels” by Mark Troy.


Michael Boone sees her long before she makes it to his office. The lady has a problem and needs a private detective in “Triangles” by John M. Floyd. She separated from her husband awhile back. More recently, she used her house key and went into the house to take an item that her husband is very serious about getting back. Since the item in question may have been acquired by her husband in the less than stellar fashion, the police are not an option. This remains true even though she believes her husband is trying to not only get the item back, but have her killed for what she did.


It is back to Austin as a setting in “Purple And Blue” by Stephen D. Rodgers. Our narrator is sitting surveillance on a certain car owned by Gregory and the client. Based on some evidence, apparently somebody else believes the car is owned by somebody named “Cynthia.” This misplaced identity has led to a serial tire killing spree by party or parties unknown and Gregory needs it stopped now.


Houston and the immediate area is the setting of several stories in the anthology. Hurricanes by name and not serve as a backdrop to several stories in one way or another. Such is the case with “Lucy’s Tree” by Sandra Murphy. Hurricane Harvey is unloading on the area and reminding our narrator of another powerful storm and his late wife. In the here and now, neighbors need help and, in so doing, a long ago murder is finally solved.


Unless you are an attorney licensed to practice in the great state of Texas, or a police officer, it is best to avoid and all visits to the jail. In “Unwritten Rules” by Chuck Brownman, private investigator Rafe McAlister is at the jail because it is hi job to be there as he is an investigator for an attorney by the name of Bobby Williamson. Their latest client is Tommy Nguyen who is in jail on a murder charge in the death of Vic Mallory. Racism, the history of the war between Texas and Vietnamese shrimpers, and more are at work in this tale.


Andy Wilkins came to Jefferson, Texas, in search of one specific person. In “Blackbirds” by Graham Powell, his search for Jack Lynch brings the attention of the local police chief and quite a few other folks. Not all of that attention is of a positive nature, but Andy Wilkins drove all the way in from Fort Worth and he has a job to do.


Riley is in the flood waters and pounding storm of Hurricane Harvey by way of a small aluminum fishing boat. She sits in the bow with Donald at the tiller as they navigate flood streets and drowned wreckage in the hunt Carl Vincent Farlow. Known to the locals as a storm chaser, she believes him to be a serial killer. A serial killer who uses severe weather events as a cover for his killing spree over the last twenty five years. In “Weathering The Storm” by Michal Pool, there are victims to be saved and a killer to be found and stopped.


The weather is quite a bit dryer in “Trip Among The Blue Bonnets” by James A. Hearn. Trip is at a certain diner south of Lampasas looking for the spouse of his niece, Tammy. Everybody in the family hated the guy and that was before Tammy, his niece, got worried he was cheating on her. Now that he found him a very long way from home, Trip must figure out exactly what is going on with him as well as a couple of other things.


West Texas, specifically the town of Odessa, is the setting for “West Texas Barbecue” by Michael Chandos. Every town has their own homegrown mobster type and Mr. Oxnum is the one for Odessa. His wife took cash and some important papers out of his safe before she run off a couple nights ago. Mr. Oxnum, who prefers to go by “Mr. Ox” is only really interested in the papers. He wants them back and wants them back now. He has a very good idea where Mr. Taylor can go to find her and get them.


Ms. Amanda TreviƱo needs the help of private investigator Benjamin Kane in “The Patience Of Kane” by Bev Vincent. She is far along in her pregnancy and would like to know the real reason her husband, father to their child, died in a recent car accident. The crash report blames driver inattention and she believes that to be nonsense. She also does not understand why he would have been driving where the car crash happened. She wants to know what did really happen and is not worried as to what he will find as she has faith in her husband and knows he wasn’t running around up to no good when he died.


Short biographies and several ads for other books by Down & Out Books bring the read to a close.


Edited by Michael Bracken, The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes From The Panhandle To The Piney Woods is a very entertaining mystery anthology. All  the stories here are on point and very good. Unlike many anthologies that have a bit of a rollercoaster effect due to the inclusion of some weaker stories, here there is not a weak tale in the bunch. Settings are varied, cases are always complex, and the authors in the anthology skillfully weave interesting tales. The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes From The Panhandle To The Piney Woods is a mighty good read. 





My reading copy came as an autographed gift by way of many of the involved authors who presented it to me at Bouchercon 2019 in Dallas. I was stunned to be gifted the book and am very appreciative of the authors who did this for me.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2020, 2021 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix:   Reviewed by Christy  Grady Hendrix is one of the few authors whose every release I eagerly anticipate (along with Megan Abbott and Gillian...

The First Two Pages: A Trailer on the Outskirts of Town by J.B. Stevens

 The First Two Pages: A Trailer on the Outskirts of Town by J.B. Stevens



Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Fangs by Sarah Andersen

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Fangs by Sarah Andersen:     Reviewed by Ambrea  Elsie is three hundred years old, but, throughout her centuries of undeath, she’s never met her match.   And t...

Bitter Tea and Mystery: The Thirteenth Tale: Diane Setterfield

Bitter Tea and Mystery: The Thirteenth Tale: Diane Setterfield: Vida Winter is an author who has had much success in her writing. She has also always concealed the truth about her past–her birth, her chil...

Jungle Red Writers: What Scares Writers--Tara Laskowski

Jungle Red Writers: What ScaresWriters--Tara Laskowski: DEBORAH CROMBIE : It's such a treat to have Tara Laskowski here on JRW today! Her debut suspense novel One Night Gone won nearly every ...

Review: UTube: Inspector Mislan and the Emancipatist Conspiracy by Rozlan Mohd Noor

UTube: Inspector Mislan and the Emancipatist Conspiracy by Rozlan Mohd Noor is the third read in the police procedural series based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Inspector Mislan and Detective Sergeant Johan are brought into an ongoing case when a friend of a sexual assault victim dies.


That is the second attack in a case that starts when Era Amilia was sexually assaulted. The attack was video recorded and shared on the internet via UTUBE. Hours later, she died after a fall the balcony of her ninth-floor apartment at the condo tower. Was she pushed or did she jump?  While The sexual child abuse investigation division intended to handle that case by themselves as it was tied into the rape case, when a second rape attack results in an obvious murder of a friend of the victim, Special Investigations is brought in and that means Inspector Mislan and Detective Sergeant Johan.


That means the independent take charge MIslan is forced to work with Inspector Sherry and her squad. Not only does he have to work with her, the powers that be have decreed he has to take orders from her. Mislan’s reputation is known to all and with the intense media focus and political factors, he is not going to be in charge. Inspector Sherry She is very much by the book and Mislan isn’t. She also is not going to jeopardize her career by letting Mislan have his usual free reign.


With pressure mounting and additional attacks and recordings being posted online, the chase is on to stop at least two, if not more, rapists who believe they are correcting wayward behavior. Things are very complicated and the case has many angles to pursue as the officers involved try to find a way to work together.


This is the third in the series that began with 21 Immortals: Inspector Mislan and the Yee Sang Murders and DUKE: Inspector Mislan and The Expressway Murders. Personal details of the lives of Inspector Mislan and several others away from the job continue here in various established secondary storylines. Therefore, it is best to read these books in order as previous case are mentioned along with continuing secondary storylines.


As always in this series, things are very complicated. UTube: Inspector Mislan and the Emancipatist Conspiracy is one of those books there is hard to explain in greater detail without ruining the read. Suffice it to say, these police procedurals are complicated and solidly good reads with interesting cases and plenty of detail on sights and sounds that the reader feels like they are there working the case and eating the food. As in earlier books, there is a lot of mention of food so be prepared.



UTube: Inspector Mislan and the Emancipatist Conspiracy

Rozlan Mohd Noor

Arcade CrimeWise

July 2021

ISBN# 978-1950691425

Hardback (also available in eBook format)

336 Pages



My copy came via the Martin Luther King JR Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.  


Kevin R. Tipple ©2021

Monday, October 25, 2021



Beneath the Stains of Time: Polaris (2004) by Jack McDevitt

Beneath the Stains of Time: Polaris (2004) by Jack McDevitt: Several months ago, I probed A Talent for War (1989) by Jack McDevitt, an American science-fiction author, who specialized in futuristic ar...

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 10/25/2021

 In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 10/25/2021

SleuthSayers: Here and Now by Steve Liskow

SleuthSayers: Here and Now: by Steve Liskow A few weeks ago, I gave a short story one last read-through before submitting it, and I found myself wondering, "Would ...

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 17 Noteworthy Writing Conferences in November 2021

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 17 Noteworthy Writing Conferences in November 2021: This November there are more than a dozen noteworthy writing conferences. You can attend workshops, presentations, readings, discussions, le...

Markets & Jobs for Writers for 10/25/2021

 Markets & Jobs for Writers for 10/25/2021

Aubrey Nye Hamilton Reviews: House Justice by Mike Lawson

Mike Lawson spent most of his career working on nuclear submarines and ships for the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Northwest. When he retired, he decided to write about what he knew, which was the U.S. Government. He created Joe DeMarco, a lawyer and trouble-shooter for the Speaker of the House, as Counsel Pro Tem for Liaison Affairs, based in Washington, DC. DeMarco has appeared in 15 political thrillers since 2005. Five different titles in the series have been shortlisted for the Barry Award and a sixth for the Edgar.

In the fifth book about the political fixer, House Justice (Grove/Atlantic Press, 2010), DeMarco’s at the top of his game, looking for the person who leaked a story that caused the savage death of a valuable spy in Tehran. The journalist who scooped the story refuses to cite her source and she’s imprisoned for contempt of court. From her jail cell, where she’s planning the book based on her experience and the subsequent television appearances, she appeals to DeMarco’s hard-drinking boss Speaker of the House John Mahoney. Either he gets her out of jail or she blows the whistle on their affair of 20 years before. The CIA is also hot on the trail of the informant, as well as someone else who keeps tagging behind DeMarco, waiting for him to find the spiller of the beans.

A fast-moving story that does not lag despite its length. Significant insider detail gives the story a ripped from the headlines of the Washington Post feel. The conflict between the two agency directors protecting their respective territories is most realistic. A slick kidnapping performed by Russian thugs and an even better escape from a moving car on a mountain road. The characters are terrific. Mahoney is an underhanded and womanizing politician who slips out of his office on Capitol Hill to watch the nearby elementary school baseball games and serve as umpire when one is needed. DeMarco tends to stand back and watch the circus antics of those around him while he focuses on the job and ties up loose ends.

Most fans of political thrillers have already discovered Lawson so I am recommending this title for anyone in need of some good contemporary escapism.

Starred review from Booklist.

·         Hardcover: 388 pages

·         Publisher: Grove/Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition (June 1, 2010)

·         Language: English

·         ISBN-10: 0802119379

·         ISBN-13: 9780802119377

Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2021

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Dru's Book Musings New Releases: Week of October 24, 2021

 Dru's Book Musings New Releases: Week of October 24, 2021 

Do Some Damage: What’s It Like Co-Authoring a Book? by Scott D. Parker

Do Some Damage: What’s It Like Co-Authoring a Book?: By Scott D. Parker A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to my cousin and he asked about any upcoming books I’ve written. I mentioned “...

Before You Ask About A Review


Before you query…. you need to understand a few things. First and foremost, I am buried in more books—print and eBook—than I could read in a couple of lifetimes. I have books going back more than a decade and I am much slower now in the wake of events the last four years. I am also, after a long hiatus caused by those same events and my grief, trying to find my way back to my own writing and editing work as it is paramount for me to somehow develop some income streams to at least slow down the dwindling of my financial resources. A fast turnaround will never happen here, so if you think I am the key to your marketing plan, you best look elsewhere.

Second, query preference is given to authors I have read and enjoyed before. That is not to say I won’t look at somebody new if I am interested. It is to say that it will take a bit more effort to convince me to take a look if you are new to me.

Coupled with that fact is the fact that I do research on new to me authors. If you are one of those folks who publicly states that reviews do not matter and that you do not read reviews, do not ask me to spend my valuable time reading and reviewing your work. If you are one of those people who espouse the nonsensical idea that a review can be short and can consist of the “I liked it… Best Book Ever” garbage, do not waste my time or yours in reaching out. You do not want a review. You want a rubber stamp of approval.

Third, have an idea as to what I read and review. I will not read a horror novel nor will I read something billed as a “medical thriller.”  I will absolutely not read your book, fact or fiction, that deals with some idea that Big Pharma is hiding the cure for cancer. I rarely read science fiction/fantasy. I mainly read mystery in all its many flavors as well as crime fiction and noir.  

While this policy applies to my review work, it also applies to what projects I will take on editing wise. If you are interested in reaching out, I am at kevinrtipple AT


Before you query, author or publicist,  have some idea of what I read. Those interested in discussing editing and other writing projects can contact me at kevinrtipple at



Sample Sunday: Excerpt: The Thanksgiving Ragamuffin by Kathleen Marple Kalb

“The Thanksgiving Ragamuffin” starts with the 19th century tradition of New York City children begging for treats on Thanksgiving morning. The first children to knock at opera star Ella Shane and her cousin Tommy Hurley’s Washington Square home are schoolkids playing poor. Then comes the second group:


“Anything for Thanksgiving?”

These voices were a bit rougher, and so were the kids. Newsboys, unless I missed my guess. Their faces were thinner, and the grime was real. And the worn clothes weren’t hand-me-downs roughed up for the occasion. They were all they had.

Some newsboys came from poor families, “doing their part in the house,” the way I’d once done with piecework, and Tommy had with odd jobs in the old neighborhood. Others had no one. The boys all knew the stories, but they’d never tell them to us. Over time and hot cocoa in the Holy Innocents rectory, Father Michael would find out and help where he could.

I didn’t feel the least bit guilty sending these fellows on their way with two pieces of penuche each instead of one. Honestly, I’d have given them the whole batch if they could have carried it.

“Did you recognize any of them?” I asked Tommy as I closed the door.

He shrugged. “I’ve seen a couple of them around Holy Innocents. The little one, with the dark hair and eyes, he’s new.”

Tommy’s gaze lingered on my face. He knew what I was thinking. The world saw opera diva Ella Shane, internationally acclaimed, or at least paid in several different currencies, for my performances in “trouser roles,” heroic men’s parts played by women. But inside was Ellen O’Shaughnessy, Irish-Jewish orphan made good, with more than a few scars from my childhood. Tommy knew better than most; we’d been looking out for each other since my mother died and his family took me in. Just eight, sad and scared, I’d attached myself to twelve-year-old Toms, even helping him fight the bullies who called him a “sissy.”

“I’m fine, Toms.” I took the basket from him and put it back on the small table by the door. “C’mon. Mrs. G left us some penuche.”

“That’s an excellent idea, Heller.” He rarely called me by anything but the nickname I’d earned during our street-fighting years, before he grew half a foot and became the star of his boxing gym, and I found my mentor and voice teacher Madame Lentini.

We had just turned for the stairs when the shouting came from the street.

“He’s dead! He’s dead and that rotten little newsboy killed him!”

“Let go of me, lady! I didn’t do anything!”

Tommy and I stepped outside to see the small dark-haired boy struggling with a sturdy woman, apparently next to the body of the victim. From across the street on a cloudy morning, though, the remains looked like nothing but an indistinct rounded shape lying near the entrance to Washington Square Park.

“I didn’t hurt anyone! Let me go!”

The child let out a shockingly loud howl, his face contorted with fear.

Even the officious, overdressed woman who’d accosted him looked stunned, dropping his collar and backing off in confusion.

I didn’t think about it. I just walked over to the little fellow and put a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at me with tear-filled, bottomless dark eyes.

“Come here, sweetheart. You’re safe now.” I pulled him to me, and he burrowed into my arms as my friends’ children sometimes will. As I rubbed his back, I noticed that his clothes, while grubby, were of good quality and relatively new. Maybe one of the luckier ones. “Call Father Michael, Toms.”

“And Cousin Andrew the detective, too, I think,” Tommy added. Andrew Riley is actually Father Michael’s cousin, not ours, but everyone calls him that, and there was no doubt that we – and that poor boy – would need a friendly police detective.  

“The Thanksgiving Ragamuffin” is just one of the many stories by the members of the NY/TriState Chapter of Sisters in Crime in the new anthology JUSTICE FOR ALL: MURDER NEW YORK STYLE 5, edited by D.M. Barr and Joseph R.G. DeMarco.


 Kathleen Marple Kalb ©2021

Kathleen Marple Kalb is the author of the Ella Shane historical mystery series for Kensington Books, and as Nikki Knight, the author of LIVE, LOCAL, AND DEAD, coming February 8, 2022 from Crooked Lane.  She’s a weekend radio anchor in New York City and a weekday mom in suburban Connecticut.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Rap Sheet: 21 Bullet Points: Saturday Sampler Edition for 10/23/2021

 The Rap Sheet: 21 Bullet Points: Saturday Sampler Edition for 10/23/2021



KRL This Week Update for 10/23/2021

Up in KRL this morning a review and giveaway of "Daughter of the Morning Star" the latest Longmire book by Craig Johnson 

Just in time for your Halloween reading, mystery author Mary Kennedy shares about 3 mystery series that include ghost sleuths. They are written by Carolyn Hart, Cleo Coyle and Gayle Leeson


We also have a review and giveaway of "Double Chocolate Cookie Murder" by Devon Delaney along with a fun interview with Devon


And a Halloween mystery short story by Elena E Smith


And the latest Queer Mystery Coming Attractions by Matt Lubbers-Moore


For those who prefer to listen to Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast directly on KRL, you can find the player here for the latest one that features the first chapter of "Murder in the Mystery Suite" by Ellery Adams read by local actor Ariel Linn


During the week we posted another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Clea Simon about her new book "Hold Me Down", you can also enter to win a copy of the book


We also posted another Halloween mystery short story, this one by author Pamela Ebel


Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "Stitch, Bake, Die!" by Lois Winston


And a review and ebook giveaway of another Halloween mystery, "Ghosts, Private Eyes, and Dead Guys" by Jennifer Fischetto, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing


And a review and ebook giveaway of another Halloween mystery, "Death by Chance" by Abigail Keam

Happy reading and Happy Halloween,