The newest anthology from the New York/Tri-state Chapter of Sister’s in Crime is another good, though often very somber, entertaining read. Filled with 22 stories, the book edited by Terrie Farley Moran, frequently pays homage to the past while also lamenting a present not everyone wanted. Occasionally amusing, most often the tales are about rectifying a past mistake or transgression in the here and now one way or another. Those that read noir know that usually the past can’t be fixed and the attempt will just make things worse.
After a brief forward by Clare Toohey, anthology chair, the book opens with “Tear Down” by Anita Page. Delilah learns through the receptionist at her physical therapy place that her old house is going to be torn down. Her nephew, Clyde, was supposed to do his attorney magic and fix it so that her house would never be torn down. At 84, Delilah has more on the ball than most and this is a problem she needs to figure out a way to quickly solve.
Sarah Armstrong is looking forward to hanging out for a few days in the apartment in Greenwich Village. Her son, Will, normally uses it while attending New York University, the freshman is off to Florida for Spring Break. For a blessed week she can relax and enjoy her time in “The Doorman Building” by Anne-Marie Sutton. That is until a young woman, Tessa, shows up claiming to be a friend of Will’s and she needs help.
Editor Terrie Farley Moran follows next with her story, “The Sneaker Tree.” For Miranda and Catherine, the sneaker tree is a living symbol of their lives. It will also serve to help catch a killer.
The beautiful Margot is very good at picking the next mark in “Taking The High Line” by Fran Bannigan Cox. Margot provides thrills to the marks and her partner in this crime story that packs quite the twist.
Tanya Kremin used to be a very respected Moscow lawyer. These days she is an American call girl not nearly so respected in “The Brighton Beach Mermaid” by Lina Zeldovich. A woman has to do what she has to do to survive and Tanya has considerable skills. She will need them all to survive considering the players involved in this one.
“Justice For Call” by Catherine Maiorisi follows with a strong tale that is police procedural in nature. By the luck of the draw, Detective Jones has a lousy partner and an interesting murder case. Once she gets the victim identified and does whatever scut work her partner wastes her time with, she might just solve the murder case. This is Catherine Maiorisi’s first published story and it is a good one. Hopefully, we will see more from this obviously talented author.
Clare Toohey a slightly surreal tale titled “A Morbid Case of Identity Theft.” The Morbid Anatomy Library has working a/c and electricity and plenty of interesting objects and research. All the narrator has to do id babysit the place for a week while Joanna takes a well-deserved first vacation since founding the place. Things should be quiet. They are until something goes wrong down the street during a parade, Justice vanishes, and the narrator has a visitor that needs help.
For years we have heard and read various slogans about guns don’t kill people---people do. Author Laura K. Curtis took that to heart in her story, “Only People Kill People.” Told from the prospective of a handgun used to commit murder, the interesting tale charts the course of the gun’s perspective on its existence before, during, and after a murder.
A man has been the victim of a brutal beating in a Brooklyn Park. Unfortunately, not something rare and yet another crime that make no sense. Another crime forgotten after the initial news until the narrator realizes she sort of knows the victim in “The Greenmarket Violinist” by Triss Stein.
Colleen Morgan and Jenna Strickland become homeless running buddies in “The Understudy” by Lois Karlin. They looked so much alike it was hard for folks to tell them apart. Naturally that led to scams, repercussions, and complications of various types over the years in the author’s first published short story.
“Murder On The Side Street” by Stephanie Wilson–Flaherty comes next in a tale of a neighborhood senior citizen and her curiosity. She pays attention to what goes on, has her sources, and is nobody’s fool in a complicated tale of friendship and murder.
As Johnny notes in “Out of Luck” by Cathi Stoler, “In the end, it’s desperation that screws you every time.” (Page 157) Johnny is desperate and forces are closing in on Johnny who is about to take his chances one more time.
The sudden arrival of his niece’s child is going to turn the narrator’s whole life upside down in “Tell Me About Your Day” by Lynne Lederman. The child will also provide a clue to her uncle about her mother’s killer.
When you get home you really don’t want to see what appears to be blood on the ceiling of your apartment. That is exactly what Henry Stern finds in “He’s the One” by Cynthia Benjamin. Henry’s a writer and writes travel articles from the comfort of his apartment. He should have read some mysteries as he might have seen this coming.
Alice Landers is a homicide detective in the NYPD in “A Vampire In Brooklyn” by Leigh Neely. She is also a vampire. While she works other cases she is always on the hunt for “Jack the Ripper” as he is responsible for making her a vampire those many years ago. She will need her skills from sides of her complex life in this interesting tale set in the not too distant future where blood drinks are sold just as easily as coffee on every street corner.
Leo is literally a walking dead man in “Remember You Will Die” by Susan Chalfin. Leo is dying thanks to terminal liver cancer and will be dead within a couple of months. When one is dying it makes it ever so much easier to settle old scores as they can’t kill you twice.
Cigarettes are expensive. Especially if you are the granddaughter as Jax is and making up how much they cost in “The Cost of Cigarettes” by Nan Higginson. Making her grandmother choose between cigarettes and mac-and-cheese as there supposedly isn’t enough money for both is just one of the many issues in this somber story.
Like in an earlier story in this anthology, a doorman is key in “A Countdown To Death” by Deirdre Verne. So too is a package, a dead neighbor, and a family mystery.
The pictures of her life is all the old lady has left in “A Poet’s Justice” by Eileen Dunbaugh. Fortunately her caregiver, Senida, is much more attentive and caring than the family that claims to love Maddie.
“That Summer” by Joan Tuohy follows in a tale of a deep dark family secret. A secret that has never been told before by now. However, with the latest death in the family, maybe it is time to shed some light on the past.
Elizabeth Zelvin weaves yet another adventure for her signature character, recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler, and his friends in “Death Will Tank Your Fish.” Bruce is supposed to keep an eye on Neil’s fish tank full of guppies while Neil is gone. A simple job and it should not be a problem. But, if you have read the novels Death Will Get You Sober and Death Will Help You Leave Him you know that doing a favor for a friend always leads to disaster for Bruce. That is in play here as is the fact that Bruce often thinks “Some days, I can’t believe the company I keep to stay sober.” (Page 258)
“North on Clinton” by K. J. A. Wishnia brings the anthology to a close with a story about working for the rich. Side benefits are possible and implied in this tale where everything is not perfect for the rich homeowner.
Like the original Murder New York Style this second anthology features good stories that often pay homage to the past. The tone in this anthology is somber, occasionally amused, and almost always making a point about rectifying the past one way or another. 256 pages long, the book showcases a wide variety of styles and subject matters and plenty of good reads.
Murder New York Style: FRESH SLICES
Editor: Terrie Farley Moran
New York/Tri-State Chapter of Sisters in Crime
L & L Dreamspell Publisher
Paperback (also available on the Kindle)
Material supplied by included author Catherine Maiorisi for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2011