Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Crime Watch Review: BLACK CLOUD by Sandi Wallace

Crime Watch: Review: BLACK CLOUD: BLACK CLOUD by Sandi Wallace (Gumshoe, 2020) Reviewed by Karen Chisholm How many lives can one incident shatter?  For one Daylesford cop, th...

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 53 Writing Contests in March 2021 - No entry fees

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 53 Writing Contests in March 2021 - No entry fees: This March there are more than four dozen writing contests calling for every genre and form, from poetry, to creative nonfiction, to complet...

Short Story Wednesday: "Cranked, Bill Crider from DAMN NEAR DEAD

 Short Story Wednesday: "Cranked, Bill Crider from DAMN NEAR DEAD

Jerry's House of Everything: SHORT STORY WEDNESDAY: "MIS' ELDERKIN'S PITCHER"

Jerry's House of Everything: SHORT STORY WEDNESDAY: "MIS' ELDERKIN'S PITCHER":  "Mis' Elderkin's Pitcher" by Harriet Beecher Stowe (first published in The Atlantic Monthly , August 1870; reprinted in h...

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Short Story Wednesday: Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Short Story Wednesday: Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks: Last December I went to a mini book sale before Christmas and one of the books I found was a collection of short stories by Tom Hanks, Uncom...

Short Story Wednesday Review: Never Kill A Cat And Other Stories by Miles Archer

Today I remind you of Never Kill A Cat And Other Stories by Miles Archer.

 

This short story collection by Miles Archer opens with the signature story “Never Kill A Cat.” Dolores Sorrento is elderly, very lonely, and spends much of her time reading mystery books. When she isn’t reading, she is talking to her many feline companions. That is when she is not dealing with Tommy Cooper and his parents who live across the street. Tommy Cooper is the terror of the neighborhood. Now, he has gone too far and has to pay for this crime.

 

Renn is supposed to be focused on the live fire exercise at the training grounds. That is a bit difficult since he and Becky had a major fight in the hours preceding. In “Murder In Uniform” Renn does what he needs to do to get through the day.

 

 

It is October of 1973 in San Francisco in “Nobody Gets Outa Here Alive.” Freddy Jones has a job he despises, but at least he has one. A routine trip for smokes on his way home turns into the most intense experience of his life. It changes the whole way he considers the world. Fortunately, his job has the tools needs to take the first steps along his new path.

 

Brian Donovan has lost yet another job as “Eternal Love” begins. He is a good worker, but annoys his coworkers with his attitude. His day is going to get way worse when he gets home.

 

The next several stories feature Doug Mc Cool over the years. As time passes, Doug McCool gets more and more into the private investigator line of work.  That process starts with “For What It’s Worth” where it is 1972 and McCool has returned from Vietnam. He is in San Francisco spending a lot of time in the VA rehab. While there he spends a lot of time with a guy Johnny White. The same Johnny White who, after discharge from rehab, became heavily involved with the Black Panthers and changed his name to Karim Africanus.

 

After about a year or so, McCool got a call from an attorney representing Johnny/Karim. There had been an FBI raid and Jonny/Karim was under arrest for the murder of an informer named Perkins. The attorney thinks that maybe McCool could help as some of those involved in the case might be more willing to talk to a white guy instead of the African American lawyer.

 

Move forward in time a few years and McCool’s latest client is Mrs. Washington in “Hell Hath No Fury.” Her daughter, Noorleen, has been arrested for murder. A criminal defense attorney McCool knows by the name of Peter Tallent told Mrs. Washington to hire McCool to do some leg work, create a report, and he might take the case pro bono. Mr. Tallent is one of the good guys and the case in interesting enough that McCool agrees to do a little digging. It quickly is clear that Norleen is in a bind because of circumstantial evidence. Once they had their suspect in the local jail they quit working the case.

 

His next client is also in a bind, but not with the cops.  In fact, it is because of the San Francisco cops, specifically one by the name of inspector Harry Stanton, that Mr. Mori is in McCool’s office looking for help. Mr. Mori owns a waste hauling company known as “South Metro Waste.” It operates in the south side of San Francisco in the area formerly known as “Butchertown.”  The meat packers the area is known for are no longer around, but South Metro Waste that was started in 1901 is going strong.

 

So strong that the mob is trying to take over his business unless he sells out to an outfit known as “United Haulers” based out of Cleveland, bad things will start happening to his family. McCool likes the guy and agrees to poke a little and see if he can figure out a way to get Mori and his family clear of the problem in “The Art of War.”

 

The beautiful Monica Grant appears in his office doorway in “Il Beso Di Morta.” Married to an investment banker of some type, her husband is apparently in some sort of business deal with a guy known as Dominic Abbruzio. Good old Dominic is deep in the mob and is known by his nickname “Razor.” Mrs. Grant wants McCool to get her husband out of the mess he has gotten himself in to and to do it with our husband having a clue about it.  Good thing she can pay as that hat will be easier said than done.

 

Author Miles Archer shifts narrator gender with his next story titled “The Miller’s Wife’s Tale.”  Told from the perspective of Barbara Brown, McCool’s everything; she has been left behind to hold the fort while McCool cavorts in Mexico with a certain lady.  She is not happy as her hair needs a touch up, she has a headache and feels bloated, and is about to have her time of the month as well as deal with clients.

 

One of those clients is Tammy Wingate who wants them to investigate the string of prostitute murders in the city thanks to a serial killer. She is the executive director of COYOTE, a prostitute support organization. She also has connections to the important people in the city of San Francisco. The cops aren’t getting anywhere in their case so Inspector  Dave Toshi sent her their way.

 

The good Inspector had no idea McCool was in Mexico, but considering Barbara is the real brains of the outfit it should not be a problem. It is one of two cases that she will handle in this story.

 

The final McCool tale is one of pain titled “The Black Hole.” McCool now lives in a trailer contemplating suicide by bottle or gun. It has been months since he had a client and is not in the shape for one. But, a woman by the name of Susan Sharpe is nothing if not persistent.

 

She is divorced and very glad to be rid of her ex-husband. While packing up some stuff across she came across a computer disk. Her ex works for a petroleum company and apparently didn’t take it with him. Somebody is making threats over the disk, Susan is scared, and needs McCool’s help. The first thing to do, after he learns what is on it, is return the damn disk. How to do that is a problem not easily solved.

 

The nine tales that make up Never Kill A Cat And Other Stories are all highly atmospheric and very complicated tales featuring fully developed characters. The McCool tales make up two thirds of the book while providing some very good reading. Those stories frequently play with the classic private detective stereotypes while going off in unconventional tangents. The result is a read recently published by Untreed Reads that is highly entertaining and well worth your time. 

  

Never Kill A Cat And Other Stories

Miles Archer

Untreed Reads

http://www.untreedreads.com/

November 2015

ASIN: B017QGLDGU

E-book

181 Pages

$2.99

 

Material supplied by the publisher in exchange for my objective review. 

 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2015, 2021

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Beneath the Stains of Time: Stratagems in the Snow: "The Spy and the Snowman" (1980) by Edward D. Hoch

Beneath the Stains of Time: Stratagems in the Snow: "The Spy and the Snowman" ...: Edward D. Hoch 's "The Spy and the Snowman" originally appeared in the November, 1980, issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Mag...

Lesa's Book Critiques: NIGHTHAWKING BY RUSS THOMAS

 Lesa's Book Critiques: NIGHTHAWKING BY RUSS THOMAS

Crime Watch Review: SHIVER by Allie Reynolds

Crime Watch: Review: SHIVER: SHIVER by Allie Reynolds (Headline, 2021) Reviewed by Craig Sisterson When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw ...

Crime Watch Review: THE DEATH HOUSE by Sarah Pinborough

Crime Watch: Review: THE DEATH HOUSE: THE DEATH HOUSE by Sarah Pinborough (HarperCollins, 2017) Reviewed by Craig Sisterson Toby's life was perfectly normal... until it was...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Mimi Lee Gets a Clue: A Sassy Cat Mystery by Jennifer Chow

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Mimi Lee Gets a Clue: A Sassy Cat Mystery by Jenn...:   Reviewed by Jeanne   Trying to get a pet grooming salon off the ground isn’t easy.   Mimi Lee has just opened her shop, “Hollywoof” ...

Crime Watch Review: THE DEVILS YOU KNOW by Ben Sanders

Crime Watch: Review: THE DEVILS YOU KNOW: THE DEVILS YOU KNOW by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin, 2021) Reviewed by Alyson Baker Vincent needs a change. He's spent the last fiftee...

Monday, February 22, 2021

Lesa's Book Critiques: FAITHLESS IN DEATH BY J.D. ROBB

 Lesa's Book Critiques: FAITHLESS IN DEATH BY J.D. ROBB

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 16 Great Writing Conferences in March 2021

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 16 Great Writing Conferences in March 2021: Writing conferences usually start to pick up in March. This year the vast majority of them will be held online. Virtual events still offer e...

SleuthSayers: Your Tax Dollars at Work by Robert Lopresti

SleuthSayers: Your Tax Dollars at Work: I may have mentioned, once or three hundred times, that until I retired I was a government information librarian. One of my hobbies back th...

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday for 2/21/2021

 In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday for 2/21/2021

Markets and Jobs for Writers for 2/22/2021

 Markets and Jobs for Writers for 2/22/2021

Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: Splintered Silence by Susan Furlong

Susan Furlong is a contemporary American mystery writer. She has written two books as Lucy Arlington in the Novel Idea mysteries. Under her own name she published three books in the Georgia Peach series and three books in the Bone Gap Travellers series. The Bone Gap Travellers stories are set in Appalachian Tennessee, where some of the descendants of the nomadic Irish Travellers who immigrated to the United States during the potato famine settled. The Irish Travellers are another of the sects in the American melting pot that, like the Amish, live apart from the greater culture. Furlong describes how she came to meet members of the group in the Author’s Note in the first title in the series, Splintered Silence (Kensington, 2017).


Splintered Silence introduces Brynn Callahan and her dog Wilco. Brynn is a former Marine who served three tours of duty in the Middle East. Wilco was her working dog who served as her partner in searching for dead and injured service members. They were both severely injured when an IED exploded and were invalided out. Brynn has returned to the only home she has ever known in Bone Gap, Tennessee, to help her grandmother as her grandfather’s health fails. Brynn’s mother left her with her grandparents when she was young and she never knew who her father was. Brynn found a home and a career in the military and is at loose ends now that it has ended.


Wilco’s training kicks in on their first day back home and he finds a body in the woods behind Brynn’s grandmother’s house. She meets the local law enforcement representatives this way and runs headlong into the local prejudices against her clan. Her clan members and even her family are suspicious of her, seeing her as part of the outside world. On the other hand, the sheriff urges her to support the homicide investigation in ways that she thinks would betray her family, to whom she feels deep loyalty. These contradictory pulls on her set up an ongoing conflict that Brynn is hard-pressed to resolve.


Brynn veers first one way, then the other as she uses her investigative skills to keep a clan member from being unjustly accused of the murder. Any loud noise sets off her PTSD, and she struggles to keep her attacks hidden from those around her, ashamed of the substantial scarring the IED blast left. A subplot addresses how she interacts with the people she grew up with, contrasting their lives as teenagers and the adults they grew to be.


Other mystery series have made effective use of the culture clash as a source of conflict for their main characters, as Furlong does here. Consider Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder, Aimee and David Thurlo’s Ella Clah, and Marilyn Meredith’s Tempe Crabtree for example. A well-plotted mystery and a thoughtful examination of cultural diversity and the ways it is often misunderstood.

 


·         Publisher: Kensington (December 26, 2017)

·         Language: English

·         Hardcover: 272 pages

·         ISBN-10: 1496711661

·         ISBN-13: 978-1496711663

 

Aubrey Hamilton ©2021

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

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Weather Update

The power and the water continues to flow here at Casa Tipple and Home Eatery Library located in NE Dallas. We have been very lucky to have everything stay on and we both are very glad for that. This has been an incredibly stressful event and this old house has made a lot of noises I have not heard since coming back here in the summer of 2017. I have not been sleeping much, not that I do anymore since Sandi passed, but it was been way worse than normal. The noises do not help. More than once each night I have been up with a flashlight checking to make sure we were not leaking water from somewhere after seeing another round of horror stories on the news. Like Covid news when that started, it is easy to watch too much coverage and do a real mental number on yourself. At least, it is that way for me. 

While my front porch is in the shade and still icy and slick as it is shade and faces north, the back porch onto the deck melted almost completely with much of it dry by midafternoon. That meant I could get outside with my cane and carefully wander around the house and eyeball things. We seem to have dodged the roof damage some of the neighbors clearly have on top of dealing with burst pipes. 

At this point, it looks like the only casualty is the old car battery in Sandi's car. I will deal with that later as folks with far more urgent issues are flooding the stores and car repair places. 

The great melting started today as we soared to 60 here at the house Far cry from this and this as the pictures from the front porch taken midafternoon show below. 



There is talk that we may hit 70 on Tuesday and Wednesday. If true, I will be outside reading out there  both days. 

YouTube: We Will Rock You || The Mandalorian(s)

 Tip of the cap to Bev Vincent who shared this on FB where I saw it: 

YouTube: We Will Rock You || The Mandalorian(s)

KRL This Week Update for 2/20/2021

Up in KRL this morning a review and giveaway of "Ink and Shadows" by Ellery Adams https://kingsriverlife.com/02/20/ink-and-shadows-by-ellery-adams/ 

And a review and giveaway of "18 1/2 Disguises" by Larissa Reinhart along with a fun interview with Larissa https://kingsriverlife.com/02/20/18-1-2-disguises-by-larissa-reinhart/

 

Also a review and giveaway of a signed copy of "Death by Intermission" by Alexis Morgan, along with a fun guest post about a night at the movies by Alexis https://kingsriverlife.com/02/20/death-by-intermission-by-alexis-morgan/

 

And a review and ebook giveaway of the latest Crispin Guest book, "Spiteful Bones" by Jeri Westerson https://kingsriverlife.com/02/20/spiteful-bones-by-jeri-westerson/

 

We also have a review and giveaway of "A Stranger in Town" by Kelley Armstrong https://kingsriverlife.com/02/20/a-stranger-in-town-by-kelley-armstrong/

 

And an article sharing about some fun things going on with KRL and Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast, including a chance to get some fun stuff while helping to support what we do https://kingsriverlife.com/02/20/krl-mysteryrats-maze-podcast/

 

Up during the week we had another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery writer Penny Grubb about how real life weaves its way into her books. You can also enter to win a copy of "Falling Into Crime" by Penny, which comprises the first three novels in the Annie Raymond mystery series https://kingsriverlife.com/02/17/how-real-life-weaves-its-way-into-crime-fiction/

 

And another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author CeeCee James about the journey of her characters and her own journey https://kingsriverlife.com/02/17/a-journey-explored-through-writing/

 

Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and ebook giveaway of "Mind-Bending Murder" by Leslie Langtry https://www.krlnews.com/2021/02/mind-bending-murder-by-leslie-langtry.html

 

And a review and ebook giveaway of "Death by Magic" by Abigail Keam https://www.krlnews.com/2021/02/death-by-magic-by-abigail-keam.html


Happy reading,
Lorie

Lesa's Book Critiques: DITHERING

 Lesa's Book Critiques: DITHERING

SleuthSayers: As You Wish by John M. Floyd

SleuthSayers: As You Wish:    FYI, I am not a screenwriter. I'm just a short-story writer who loves movies and has always been interested in the way they're wr...

SHOTSMAG CONFIDENTIAL: Lynda La Plante - Listening to the Dead and The Judas Horse

SHOTSMAG CONFIDENTIAL: Lynda La Plante - Listening to the Dead and The Ju...:   Queen of Crime Drama Lynda La Plante launching series 2 of true crime podcast on 24th February; LISTENING TO THE DEAD The forensics podcas...

Do Some Damage: The Great Texas Freeze-Out of 2021

Do Some Damage: The Great Texas Freeze-Out of 2021: by Scott D. Parker Well, that was something. As a native Houstonian, I used to look north at winter with a sense of missing out. Look, they ...

Scott's Take: The Firmament Of Flame (The Universe After Book 3) by Drew Williams

The Firmament of Flame by Drew Williams is the third book in The Universe After Series. I previously reviewed the first book, The Stars Now Unclaimed and the second book, A Chain Across The Dawn. This third book in the series continues the adventures of Jane, Esa, and others as they attempt to figure out the goal of the Cyn. To do this, the Justified operatives of various teams have launched a joint operation to backtrack the route of the Cyn to try and figure out where he came from. Obviously, there are those that will try to stop that. Hopefully find out where he came from will lead to answers. His fellow Cyn and their followers are going to do everything they can to prevent that. This is a journey of discovery type novel and one difficult to talk about without causing spoilers.

 

This book features a larger cast of characters since Esa and Jane are accompanied by more allies than usual. Everyone has their own personalities and abilities and their own needed skill set. The book is still told from Jane and Esa’s perspectives, however, they have clearly changed a lot over the series.

 


Everything a reader loves about the first two books is present here. Plenty of action, mystery, humor. There is a ton of world building, lore expansion, and set-up. This is a novel that is meant to shake things up and send the series off into a new direction. This book setting up a fourth and, as of yet, untitled and unannounced book. What was originally intended as a trilogy has been expanded beyond what the author originally intended. This series is no longer being marketed as a trilogy.

 

I highly recommend this series in general and this book. The Firmament of Flame by Drew Williams ties into both books heavily and there are numerous plot points from the previous books relevant here. This series should be read in order.

 

  

The Firmament Of Time (The Universe After Book 3)

Drew Williams

http://drewwilliamsirl.com/

Tom Doherty Associates (Tor)

https://www.tor-forge.com

2020

ISBN# 978-1-250-18619-5

Hardback (also available in audio and eBook formats)

380 Pages  

 

My reading copy came from the Mountain Creek Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.

  

Scott Tipple ©2021

Friday, February 19, 2021

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Mrs. McGinty's Dead: Agatha Christie: As the book opens, Poirot has just finished a meal at a lovely restaurant. He walks home, thinking about food he likes, meals he likes and m...

The Guardian: The best recent crime and thrillers – review roundup

 The Guardian: The best recent crime and thrillers – review roundup

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrify...:     Reviewed by Ambrea   Since I’m still firmly entrenched in medical history and epidemiological mysteries, I decided to check ou...

Lesa's Book Critiques: WINNERS AND A GIVE ME A V GIVEAWAY

 Lesa's Book Critiques: WINNERS AND A GIVE ME A V GIVEAWAY

FFB Review: GRIFTER’S GAME, a.k.a. MONA (1961) by Lawrence Block Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Friday means Friday’s Forgotten books and more suggested reading. Today is a repeat of Barry Ergang’s 2015 review of GRIFTER’S GAME, a.k.a. MONA (1961) by Lawrence Block. After you read his review and mosey around here, make sure you head over to Patti Abbott’s blog as well as Aubrey Nye Hamilton’s blog and see what they suggest today.

 

GRIFTER’S GAME, a.k.a. MONA (1961) by Lawrence Block

 

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

 

It’s a short novel, so I want to give very little away lest I spoil a fast, entertaining nibble of noirishment by an always-reliable author. It’s narrated by a grifter named Joe Marlin who, when the story opens, has to get out of Philadelphia because the con he tried to pull off fell through and he hasn’t enough money to pay his expensive hotel bill. Thus he takes the train to Atlantic City and steals some monogrammed luggage from the railway station there so he can check into a respectable hotel. 


Shortly thereafter, he meets and spends time on the beach with a beautiful young blonde named Mona, who admits she is married to a much older businessman whom she finds “fat and he’s ugly. Also stupid. Also revolting.” When Marlin asks her why she married him, she says he’s “Very very very rich.” 


After Marlin returns to his hotel room, he unpacks the suitcases he stole and makes a stunning discovery, one that could be either remunerative or lethal. When he and Mona reconnect (to put it euphemistically) on the beach, both seem to realize that mutual lust has turned into something mutually deeper—even after Marlin realizes who the monogram belongs to and what it could potentially mean for him—and apart from the fact that both agree the monogram’s owner must be eliminated.

 

The e-book edition of Grifter’s Game which I read features a new afterword by Lawrence Block, the opening paragraph of which says, “This turned out to be the first book published under my own name, although I assumed it would be pseudonymous soft-core porn when I started it. A couple of chapters in I decided that this book might be a cut above what I’d been writing, so I wrote it as a crime novel with the hope it might work for Gold Medal Books. They were the first house to see it, and Knox Burger bought it.” 

 

Thus the beginning of the deservedly multi-award-winning career of an outstanding writer. See my opening sentence for a recommendation of this particular work. Or ignore it and just read the book.


 

 

Barry Ergang ©20016, 2021

Some of Derringer Award-winning author’s Barry Ergang’s work is available at Smashwords and Amazon.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 2/18/2021

 In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 2/18/2021

Lesa's Book Critiques: WHAT ARE YOU READING?

  Lesa's Book Critiques: WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Crime Watch: Viking romances and Otago stargazing: an interview with RWR McDonald

Crime Watch: Viking romances and Otago stargazing: an interview...: Kia ora and haere mai, welcome to the weekly instalment of our 9mm interview series for 2021 - we're back on a regular track now after...

SHOTSMAG CONFIDENTIAL: Y Gwyll – The Dusk by James Oswald

SHOTSMAG CONFIDENTIAL: Y Gwyll – The Dusk by James Oswald:   It seems like you can’t switch on the TV these days without being confronted by a dozen or more different detectives, all vying for your a...

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Weather Update

We have kept power and water on and have no idea how we have been so lucky. Millions of Texans, including neighbors on the street, have not been so fortunate. An additional couple of inches of sleet and snow rolled through last night into early this morning. The pictures below are of my street this morning looking left and then right from my front porch.




Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Appalachia, Catte, Cooper, Copenhagen, Malerman, Noah, McCall Smith

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Appalachia, Catte, Cooper, Copenhagen,...:   Small but mighty, our first book this week was What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte.  This book dissects the ...

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Frightened Stiff (1942) by Kelley Roos

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Frightened Stiff (1942) by Kelley Roos: William and Audrey Roos were the husband-and-wife writing tandem, known as " Kelley Roos ," who published a lamentably short serie...

Lesa's Book Critiques: SYMPHONY ROAD BY GABRIEL VALJAN

 Lesa's Book Critiques: SYMPHONY ROAD BY GABRIEL VALJAN

Patti Abbott: Short Story Wednesday: "The Last Long Ride of El Canejo" from DAMN NEAR DEAD 2

 Patti Abbott: Short Story Wednesday: "The Last Long Ride of El Canejo" from DAMN NEAR DEAD 2

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Short Story Wednesday: Tales of the Black Widowers by Isaac Asimov

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Short Story Wednesday: Tales of the Black Widowers...: Today I am highlighting Tales of the Black Widowers by Isaac Asimov. There are six books of stories about the Black Widowers and this is th...

Jerry's House of Everything: SHORT STORY WEDNESDAY: ALLAN'S WIFE by H. Rider Haggard

Jerry's House of Everything: SHORT STORY WEDNESDAY: ALLAN'S WIFE:  "Allan's Wife" by H. Rider Haggard (first published in Haggard's collection Allan's Wife and Other Tales , 1889) More...

Short Story Wednesday Review: Shhhh…Murder! Editor Andrew MacRae

If you have seen the news out of Texas, you know at least one of the reasons things have gotten away from me yet again. So, today is a reminder of my 2018 review of an anthology that I very much enjoyed. Wherever you are, stay warm, and may your power and water stay on!


When I was a kid, libraries were solemn and very quiet places. Noise was frowned upon. Usually I got the frown right before being told, “Whisper, please.” Silence in the library was a way of life and was expected whether it was the school library or the Audelia Road Branch of the Dallas Public Library. These days, as I am back in the house I grew up in, the slightly closer branch is the Lochwood Branch of the Dallas Public Library and the place is rarely quiet. As they did in recent years out in Plano, even the librarians at Lochwood speak in a normal tone of voice. They even laugh at my jokes.

 

These days whether it is out in Frisco, at UTD, or somewhere else, every library I drag my cane or walker into seems to be a noisy and rambunctious place even if it is not story time for the kiddos. At least murders don’t happen in the libraries I frequent. That can’t be said in Shhhh…Murder!  where Cozy Crimes in Libraries occur and it just might happen during the classic dark and stormy night. While a few of the twenty-four tales are previously published ones, most of the short stories presented here are new ones.

 

After a short introduction by Editor Andrew MacRae, the book begins with “Wuthering Stacks” by Deborah Lacy and Pat Hernas. Not only is this the first tale in the book, it starts off a new planned series featuring Bronte Williams who is a librarian and a solver of crimes. A member of her early morning shelving team is dead and this sort of thing does not normally happen at Piermont College located two hours from Sacramento. Greg is dead, the police need to be notified, the presentation for that seriously annoying ego maniac known by the name of Janet Myers has to be cancelled, among a number of other things has to be done. Librarian Bronte Williams has her hands increasing full as the morning wears on.

 

Michael Bracken’s, “Mr. Sugarman Visits the Bookmobile” is next up. The setting is Quarryville Texas. Mr. Graham Sugarman is, as those of us of a certain age would politely say here in Texas, “a unique individual.” He does not adjust well to the change in routine when the book mobile stops arriving every Tuesday at 9:00 am. Why it stopped, what happened, and how he copes are small fascinating parts of this engrossing tale.

 

“Elsinore Noir” by Warren Bull brings Shakespeare to the current times. The patron knows Dashiell, Hamlet and others, but has no idea at all about a crime fiction master, William Shakespeare. Hamlet is the subject of a lot of discussion in this amusing tale. After Mr. Bull is through, you might just look at the Hamlet in a total different way.

 

Finding the right writing group can be a challenge. That is the problem facing Shelly in “The Wrong Coffee Shop” by Sharon Marchisello. They used to meet at the DeKalb Public library, but that was years ago. At least one member seems to be happy to see her. Getting back into the writing groove by way of the Midtown Atlanta Writers Circle should be fun.

 

The land behind the circulation desk is an area where we regular mortals never get to tread. In “Ask a Librarian” by Jaqueline Seewald, readers get to take a peek. In this tale, originally published elsewhere in a slightly different form, newly hired librarian, Harold Stevens, works in a private library. That private library was endowed by its patrons and is very much off limits to the public rabble. There are secrets everywhere. That includes the secret of what happened to Robert Weber who Harold is replacing.

 

Funding for libraries is always an issue. Sometimes a library must consider selling prized items from its collection to survive. Such is the issue here in “The Adam Miniatures” by Anne-Marie Sutton. Sometimes a murder will happen to in an attempt to prevent such a sale.

 

Readers are next taken to a library at the University of Sydney in Australia by way of “Case Study on the Principals of Morals and Legislation” by Aislinn Batstone. There is a man dead in the Fisher Library and Kate Moseby is involved in the case. Somehow, after finding a very dead Silas Brown who was apparently involved in some sort of drug deal, she is still supposed to go about her duties including teaching her philosophy of law reading group.

 

Originally published in an anthology back in 1988, “DDS 10752 Libra” is by John Lutz and Josh Pachter. Somebody killed Dwight Stone and ransacked through his apartment looking for something. Nudger found the body and is aware of Stone’s last case. Detectives Byrnes and Allen are not thrilled that Nudger found the body nor are they thrilled with his refusal to just go away after he tells all he knows. Private investigators are difficult that way.

 

Next up is “Clean Cup” by Jennie MacDonald where the library is about to host the annual fundraiser. Things just need to be tidied up a little bit and that includes shelving the last few returns from the book drop. That includes one book so old it does not have the usual bar code on it. It will require special handling.

 

After a person dies, especially a wealthy one who clearly loved books, various things have to be done including dealing with the home library. Such is the case in “Different Lights” by Gwenda R. Jensen. Good thing Martin has Lindsay to help as this home library is a massive one.

 

What somebody is as a child is often their nature as an adult. John Wessel was trouble as a kid. He is trouble as an adult in “Drop Goes the Weasel” by LD Masteron. Considering his nickname is “Johnny Weasel” the fact he is trouble isn’t surprising. The fact that he suddenly has a library card and is checking out books is most definitely surprising. He is up to something. Librarian Grace Pernell means to find out exactly what he is doing as it can’t be good. 

Lochwood Branch: Our Other Home

It is a dark and stormy November night and debut mystery author Francie Spencer isn’t sure how many folks will show up for the book signing. Silverdale Public Library Director Dale Swift has gone all out to make her feel welcome. Despite the foul weather, folks are showing up. In “Gotcha Covered” by Kate Fellows, the stage is set up for a classic locked room mystery. Is Francie Spencer up to it as fiction becomes reality regarding a legendary rare book?

 

Librarian Pricilla Mummert had known that Daphne Willow-Smythe, a frequent visitor in the special collections area of the library, was up to no good. Now she has proof. The library director better listen to her in “Map to Oblivion” by KM Rockwood.

 

Having a brother who is a genius is rather stressful at times. But, it is clear that he figured out how to make some things better so one puts up with what one has to in order that the movie gets made. Tom van der Grimmen is in that situation as “The Body in the Book Drop” by DA Critchley begins. A research trip down to the Lockhaven Public Library is in order. Finding one of the librarians hysterical and saying something about “blood” means his quick trip is no longer going to be quick as he calls the local sheriff.

 

Inspector Cosgrove is hard at work in “The Day the Librarian Checked Out” by Richard Lau. Librarian Emily Wilson is dead after being stabbed by scissors. Apparently, the brownies Mrs. Tuttle made were not the culprit. Considering her well known lack of skills in the kitchen, it remains rather surprising Mrs. Tuttle has not been arrested for murder by way of poisoning somebody. Since it happened before the library opened and thus only five people were inside, besides the now very deceased Emily Wilson, the pool of suspects is small in this locked room mystery.

 

It is January 1943 and librarian Emily Applegate is warm in the library despite the ongoing wintery onslaught outside. In “The Vanishing Volume” by Janet Raye Stevens, Miss Applegate deals with a lot including the motives of a certain policeman, Sargent Duffy. The book drop and what it contains-- and does not-- is the ongoing aspect of the tale that blends mystery with a touch of romance.

 

Librarians are dangerous as they know things. The NSA must be vigilant. Even when their surveillance subject is a sixty year old librarian in “Where Agents Go to Die” by Michael Brandon. Agents Ellis and Strickland are on the case, but much happens out of the sight of their car. They soon learn what happened and why and it is not surprising. After all, as Agent Strickland points out early on, “Libraries are a breeding ground of bitterness and disaffection.”

 

Next up is the previously published story, “The Fortune Teller” by Edward Ahern. Deep in the bowels of the Vatican Brother Willman seeks to find a pattern. He works with ancient texts that are writings condemned by the church. His mission is to find the links between the failings of the church in different points of time in the past to discern where are the areas where the church will fail at in the future. It has taken years of study, but a pattern of sorts is about to emerge.

 

Somebody apparently is living in the old library in “Bookish Dreams” by Amy Ballard. Theodora wants the police involved though Emma is reluctant to so as she does not see any real need. Theodora is the boss so Theodora has her way on this and many other issues.

 

Our protagonist had a little too much fun last night. Part of the morning after problem is what she consumed. Part of the morning after problem is that her ex was involved. Then there is the call from her boss, Pam Sterno. Summoned to the home of her boss, she is going to be assigned a mystery decades in the making in “Havoc in the Library” by Barbara Schliching.

 

History is also a major point of “The Lawrence Library Liquidation” by M. M. Elmendorf. Miles Watson is a librarian and has plenty to do at the library as it is. Mrs. Fischner, his boss, is not at all pleased with the world, the patrons who pass through the library doors, or the fact that Mr. Watson has still not taken the cart of resource books to the vault as she had instructed him to do so earlier in the day. Taking that cart is going to turn into an adventure worthy of any classic mystery. 

 


The death of a neighbor gets Elsa, a librarian, involved in a case that strikes very close to home in the previously published story, “The Christmas Stalker” by Nupur Tustin. Taylor is dead, her soon to be husband found her, and Elsa had slept through it all until the cops pounded hard on her door. They had just recently moved in and Taylor had quickly proven to be a bit difficult. The murder shocks the small community of Greendale Village and Elsa, like many others, is scared to be at home each night.

 

Author Albert Tucher worked at the Newark Public Library for quite a number of years. He put that inspiration to work in his short story, “The Patience of the Dead.” Set before prohibition, the tale features Beatrice Winser, the real-life librarian who oversaw the place for decades. The flu is rampant and the governor has ordered the closure of places that people congregate at in large numbers. As she sees the order, that includes libraries though others may disagree and do so at their own peril. It has to be closed and no one knows for how long. Everyone must be accounted for to make sure the library is empty before the doors are locked and she relies on her head of security, Mr. Bradshaw to do just that.

 

“Keeping the Books” by Michael Guillebeau brings the anthology to a close. Liberians Hammer, Doom, and Carter have a problem. Actually, they have more than one problem considering the action by the library rat, Faulkner, which they just witnessed. The latest budget crisis will hit hard and require drastic action.

 

The twenty four tales in Shah… Murder! are all good ones showcasing variety in the cozy spectrum. While some are a bit easier to predict for seasoned mystery readers, every story in the anthology has several twists and turns. A nice touch is the short introduction to each tale explaining the author’s background and the context of the work. Shhhh… Murder! is a fun read from start to finish and well worth your time.

 

 

Shhhh…Murder!

Editor Andrew MacRae

Darkhouse Books

http://www.darkhousebooks.com  

September 2018

ISBN# 978-1-945467-15-8

eBook (also available in print format)

251 Pages 

 

 

Material was purchased shortly after the publication date to read and review. 

 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2018, 2021