Lesa's Book Critiques: WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN BY MIRANDA JAMES
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Lesa's Book Critiques: WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN BY MIRANDA JAMES
SleuthSayers: Guest Post: Room for Real Life by James A. Hearn
The Rap Sheet: Raise a Glass to the McIlvanney Finalists
Review: Razorblade Tears: A Novel by S.A. Cosby
It has been fifteen years since Ike Randolph walked out of Coldwater State Penitentiary. He changed his life and built a business. He has a good life now, but he is still a black man in America with all that entails. Cops on the doorstep does not bode well.
Their arrival means that his world has changed forever. His son, Isiah Randolph, is dead. Murdered along with his married partner, Derek Jenkins. The son of Buddy Lee Jenkins, who also did time in prison. Neither father, to various levels, ever accepted the fact that his son was gay. Now that each son is dead, each father has to face that reality with so much left unsaid. Each father separated by race and so much more is dealing with a bottomless pit of regret as well as smoldering rage.
As the days turn into weeks, it becomes clear that the police are not finding out who did it. The excuse is that the people who knew Isiah and Derek will not talk to them. That could be true. The fact that they were gay in Virginia might be a factor as well. Maybe law enforcement does not see them as people who matter. It is Buddy Lee that gives voice to the idea that they unite start talking to the folks that knew them on a daily basis and find out who killed their boys. Having given air to the smoldering rage in both men, it is not long before they are putting the skills learned the hard way many years ago to use in the here and now.
United in grief and suppressed rage, the fathers are not at all alike. Their disparity extends far beyond race and class while at the same time each is symbolic of the struggle facing America today. Yet, where it counts, love for the son and what should have been, means they become united in the pursuit to get answers. Answers that will not bring their boys back, but will give them at least some shred of peace. Propelled in a hunt for some sort of justice against the people who killed their sons, each father is forced to confront his bias and far more in Razorblade Tears: A Novel by S.A. Cosby.
This is one of those books that my review does not do justice. I am sure it is going to win a slew of awards. I cannot recommend it enough. It is an incredible book that works on all levels and keeps you thinking and feeling long after the last page.
Make sure you check out Lesa Holstine’s review.
Razorblade Tears: A Novel
S. A. Cosby
Flatiron Books (Macmillan Books)
eBook (also available in audio and hardback)
With Scott’s assistance in making the Libby App work, my eBook reading copy came from the Dallas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2021
Monday, August 30, 2021
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Kissing Game by Marie Harte
Lesa's Book Critiques: VICKI DELANY, GUEST AUTHOR
Reads, Writes, Reviews: New Release/Guest Post: Empire's Heir by Marian L Thorpe
SleuthSayers: Where Do Characters Come From? by Steve Liskow
In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday for 8/30/2021
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 84 Calls for Submissions in September 2021 - Paying Markets
Markets & Jobs for Writers for 8/30/2021
Aubrey Nye Hamilton Reviews: Doing the Devil’s Work by Bill Loehfelm
I learned about Bill Loehfelm through a tweet from Alafair Burke. Loehfelm is a talented guy, writing novels and playing drums in a rock band. He wrote two stand-alone crime novels and then created Maureen Coughlin, a cocktail waitress on Staten Island. Coughlin moved to New Orleans about the same time as Bill Loehfelm did, where she joined the New Orleans police force. Her adventures are documented so far in five books.
The third one is Doing the Devil’s Work (Sarah Crichton Books, 2015), which received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly. Coughlin has completed her officer training and is on the patrol rotation schedule. Out alone at night, she is sent to investigate the report of a dead body in a gang-ridden black neighborhood. The victim she finds is all wrong for the location: a young white man with a slashed throat. A few days later another corpse with a similar injury turns up.
Coughlin by rights has no place in a homicide investigation beyond reporting the discovery and securing the scene, but she itches to help with the two related killings. Research on the victims’ backgrounds shows links to a domestic terrorism group which opens the door to Federal involvement. In addition the gang leader who eluded capture in her previous case has turned up, and she is determined to bring him in this time.
Coughlin is still trying to find her place within the force, an outsider due to her inexperience, her gender, and her newness to New Orleans. The pair of officers she most often deals with encourage her to go along to get along but she’s uneasy about some of the corners they cut. With the police force under scrutiny for corruption, she is not eager to be found not following proper procedure. But reporting her team mates is frowned upon too. She finds herself in an ethical quandary and in an exquisitely written few pages she verbally tap dances through awkward conversations laden with landmines with the pair and with her training officer, trying not to incriminate herself in anyway or to compromise her own personal ethics.
Loehfelm is a staggeringly gifted writer. I found myself pausing to admire a sentence, a word choice, an image. Coughlin is complicated but credible, as are the rest of the characters. I especially liked her training officer. I will be looking up the rest of the books in the series. Highly recommended.
· Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books (January 6, 2015)
· Hardcover: 320 pages
· ISBN-10: 0374298580
· ISBN-13: 978-0374298586
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2021
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Bustle: The Chair Was Filmed At Several Scenic College Campuses
Dru's Book Musings: New Books Week of August 29, 2021
Lesa's Book Critiques: DEATH IN CASTLE DARK BY VERONICA BOND
The Rap Sheet: So Who Won This Year’s Anthonys?
Murder Books: Back in the Saddle by Bruce Robert Coffin
SleuthSayers: The Good, The Bad, The Lemonade by R. T. Lawton
Sample Sunday: Excerpt from One of Us: A Tower District Mystery by Lorie Lewis Ham
Please welcome Lorie Lewis Ham to the blog today as she shares an excerpt from her new novel, One of Us: A Tower District Mystery.
woman starting over. A gossip website. A handsome playwright with a dark side.
A director with an explosive temper. And a murder without a motive. It’s a
mystery set in the historic Tower District—
One of Us: A Tower District Mystery by Lorie Lewis Ham
Two years ago-
I was fed up with other people controlling my life and ignoring me, and I was fed up with trying to please them. I wanted to be more like my favorite TV character Blair Waldorf. She always seemed to come out on top and she was brilliant at manipulating people. I wanted to be more like her. Blair didn’t care about pleasing others, she cared about the one thing you can control—making people fear you.
I couldn't believe that I was moving to
My roommate, Lindsay, had gotten married and moved her black
cat rescue to
The reason I had chosen to move to
So I had turned the house in
My small animal rescue was now disbanded—all of my hamsters, rabbits, and pet rats had been placed with Rattie Ratz rescue in the Bay Area. All except for Merlin, my beautiful, blue dumbo boy. He was the one that had converted me to a love of pet rats. Merlin was going with me. If wild rats are the only kind of rats you know about, you are missing out. Domesticated rats are awesome pets, and dumbo rats, well they don’t even look like the same species. Think big ears like Dumbo the elephant, and a furry little animal with a much rounder face and smaller nose than your average rat. I have learned to love all pet rats, but dumbos are flat-out adorable. If they can’t win a person over, then they are hopeless.
I took a deep breath and tried to focus on the positive. At
least I was moving to the Tower District—easily the place with the most
character and the most theatre in the entire town. That was some consolation.
The Tower District was the only part of
A yellow BMW M3 pulled up in front of the house and out stepped my tall, handsome cousin. He had always had great taste in cars. Stephen flicked a stray lock of blond hair from his eyes as he headed my way, and I nearly laughed. Stephen had been doing that since we were teenagers, and the girls always loved it. It probably started out as flirting, but was so much a part of him now that I doubted he even realized when he did it.
"Hey there, Roxi, ready to head to beautiful
"Oh yes, I'm thrilled and can hardly wait to get there," I answered, each word dripping with sarcasm.
He laughed. "It's not really all that bad.
Granted it's no coastal town like
Stephen had actually just returned to the area himself a
couple of months ago. Before that, he'd spent three months in
"Did you have any business left after leaving it in
David and Tommy's hands for all those months?" I asked him. David Lawrence
had been Stephen's assistant for years, and Tommy Walters was ironically enough
Alex's little brother. After getting tired of being on the road with his musical
family, Tommy was rebooting his life as a P.I. I'd met him last year, and he
was cool. When Stephen returned to the Valley and bought the house in the Tower
District, he let Tommy have his apartment in Donlyn, thirty miles away. Stephen
had also opened up a second office in
We headed toward the house to grab the last of my stuff and
Merlin. "Tommy is actually a natural, they did fine. Granted they don't
have my connections to organized crime—but then that's not always a plus."
A darkness briefly crossed Stephen's gray eyes as he thought about his mobster
father, my uncle Antonio. Uncle Antonio was now firmly entrenched once again in
"Well, we can't help who we have for family." My father had been in the family business as well. However, as far as I knew, it was always on the fringes. He had run the family winery in Paso Robles. That is until he and my mother were killed in a car crash when I was fifteen. They were the one perfect couple I'd known in my life. While it was horrible to lose them, I was glad they had gone together and I liked to believe they were together in heaven, or whatever came after death.
We grabbed my suitcases and tossed them into Stephen's small trunk. I put my well-worn copy of The Once and Future King into my purple messenger bag with Scooby-Doo on the flap, put my Excalibur replica sword and collectible set of Sherlock Holmes books on his backseat, then took Merlin in his travel carrier and slid into the front seat. So much could be said about me by looking at what I’d just brought out to the car. “Let’s get headed to hell."
Stephen laughed as he got into the driver's seat. "Now, Cuz, don't be dissing my town, though it may feel like you're in hell during the summer. And, well, it is summer now."
He looked over his shoulder and shook his head. "I can honestly say I've never had a sword in my car before. You couldn't have packed that in the moving van?"
I raised an eyebrow. "I saved forever for Excalibur; no way I'm trusting it to movers."
My obsession with Camelot had led to my learning how to use a sword in college—I used it as an outlet for my wilder darker side that had gotten me in trouble as a teen. Two years ago, I'd saved up enough money to finally purchase a replica of Excalibur—it was one of my most precious possessions. It was heavy, and I'd worked up some nice arm strength practicing with it by sparring with my friend Lucas Shum, who has a sword of his own. Though it isn't Excalibur.
Stephen smiled and shook his head. “You have been hung up on King Arthur and Camelot ever since we were kids.”
I shrugged. “Blame it on my parents taking me to see the musical.”
I had fallen in love with that whole world when I saw the musical as a kid, and with Lancelot. It wasn’t long until I was reading every King Arthur book I could find. Then I discovered The Once and Future King and that had become my constant companion. The one positive thing the Mafia world had going for it was honor, at least in the old days, and I think that was one of the things that had drawn me to Camelot. The idea of honor had become very important to me—it still was.
“Let’s get out of here.”
After three hours of driving, we pulled up in front of a cocoa-colored, early Mediterranean style house with a small front porch, and a big, brown wooden door. I had to admit the place had character. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all. There was a small yard in the front as well, with some neatly trimmed bushes and flowers.
I stepped out of the air-conditioned car and immediately took any positive thoughts back. I looked at the temperature on my phone. It was 107 degrees! It was indeed as hot as hell. Even Merlin seemed to shrink from the heat, and I'd swear he was giving me a dirty look for bringing him here.
Stephen, however, in his five hundred dollar black Italian suit, didn't even flinch as he got my suitcases and headed for the front door. He noticed I wasn't following and turned to frown at me. "You know the house has a great AC, but it doesn't reach the sidewalk."
I glared at him, and then Merlin and I rushed for the cool air inside. Thankfully, Stephen had instructed David to have it turned on earlier in the day.
The house was wonderful. Wood floors. A tiny entryway that led to a small living room with a fireplace—which implied it did get cold at some point. The walls in the living room matched the cocoa, almost rust color of the stucco outside. The furniture was charming and comfortable. A big brown leather couch faced the fireplace, an oak coffee table sat in front of it, and two comfy brown and red chairs were to the right of the couch. It wasn't big, but it was big enough. The walls were decorated with beautiful paintings of horses. Stephen had always loved horses and now owned several Arabians and Thoroughbreds that he raced. The coffee table had a couple of big books on it, one was on Sinatra—a love he and I shared, and come on we're Italian. The other book was an opera one. I really hoped Stephen didn't blast his opera music loudly—that was a love we did not share.
To my left was Stephen's music room, which held a black baby grand piano and big picture windows. As we walked forward, we went through a doorway into the dining room. It had a medium-sized dining room table with four chairs, and a desk in one corner with Stephen's laptop.
From there I could go to my left into the guest room, or straight into a small, but well-equipped, kitchen. Stephen was an excellent cook when he had the time. We turned left to go into the hallway and he showed me the rest of the house before leading me into my room. First, there was a nice bathroom with a tub and shower. Next was Stephen's room, which had another private bathroom and a door that led into a cozy little backyard with a Jacuzzi.
We turned back around to head to my room, which was completely decorated in purple and black. I smiled, knowing Stephen had done that just for me. There was a twin bed in one corner and a nice black desk by the window. A chest of drawers, also black, sat next to the door and there was enough room to set Merlin's carrier down on top.
"This is wonderful Stephen, thanks so much." I gave him a quick smile. I wasn't good at expressing emotion—blame that on my parents. They'd never as much as said I love you to me once I hit thirteen and was considered in their eyes to be an adult. The outgoing affectionate Italian families you see on TV and the movies do exist—it just wasn’t my family. Uncle Antonio was the same way.
Stephen on the other hand, was very expressive. He gave me a big bear hug and then stepped back because he knew it made me uncomfortable. I thanked his Spanish mother for that. Isabella had always been very affectionate. "We're family, Roxi. You're about the only family I have besides my mother." The darkness quickly crossed his eyes again as he thought of his father.
Oddly, being born into a Mafia family had never bothered me.
Yeah, I know they did things that were wrong, but the ones I knew still had
honor—more honor than a lot of non-criminals I'd known. Don't get me wrong, I
don't condone crime. I'd even studied criminology, but I could see the grays a
bit better than Stephen. And I'd always had a little bit of a thing for the
villains. Come on, Loki is way more interesting than Thor. Though I'd take
Sherlock Holmes over Moriarty any day—though Andrew Scott who played Moriarty
in Sherlock was adorable! But let's be honest, Sherlock Holmes has a
gray side as well. More recently, I’d discovered Supernatural, yeah, I
know, way late to the party, but at least I got there. As much as I loved Sam
and Dean, my favorite character was
"Why don't you get unpacked. The rest of your stuff will arrive tomorrow—there's a storage building in the back where we can put the stuff that you don't have room for in the house. Once you're all settled I'll show you the Tower, and we can get something to eat."
Thankfully, by dinnertime things had cooled off a little. I
was done unpacking what we had brought in Stephen’s car, and the only thing I
still needed to do was
"Hey there, hungry?"
Stephen got up and headed for the door. "There are a ton of choices in the Tower, and it's only a couple blocks."
I frowned at him. "You're not seriously planning on walking in this heat?"
He laughed. "It's not that bad now, and you better get used to walking. That's one of the many advantages of living here. There's so much we can walk to."
He was right. I didn't have a car anymore just my red mountain bike, which wasn't even here yet. Cycling and walking would be my primary mode of transportation until I had money to change that. I couldn't rely on Stephen to drive me around everywhere—he actually had a life. "Fine."
As we walked to the heart of the Tower and its many shops and restaurants, I felt like I'd gone back in time. I had read in an article that most of the houses had been built between the 1920s and the 1950s. There wasn't a new house in sight—each home had the kind of character only houses built before the 1960s seemed to have. The streets were lined with various kinds of tall trees. Even the sidewalks had a bit of character with its cracks and unevenness here and there.
"So, how are you doing?" I asked, tentatively.
"I'm managing," he answered, barely above a whisper. "Keeping busy. Life goes on. Alex made her choice." He took a deep breath and turned to flash that dashing smile at me. "What about you? Your life has just been turned upside down."
I sighed. I'd written children's books and run a small animal rescue for the last ten years. Then suddenly my publisher canceled my series and, soon after that, Lindsay got married. "I'm trying to look at this all as an adventure."
"That’s why you brought Excalibur.” He laughed. “Any idea what you’re going to do?"
"I have no idea. I have my journalism and criminology degrees. I could apply to some local papers for the crime beat. I have—had—a podcast, but that was local so that’s done. It didn’t make much anyway."
"You could work for me."
He had stopped and I looked into those gray eyes. At five foot ten, I was nearly as tall as his six feet. "Thanks. Maybe. We'll see. But I'd really like to find my own thing." I grinned. "Maybe I'll start my own detective agency."
Stephen frowned and shook his head. "You always were the competitive sort. Let's focus on your more immediate needs. What are you hungry for?"
We stood at the corner of Wishon and
"Ah, Irene's. You definitely couldn't have picked a better place for your first meal as a resident of the Tower."
We headed down the street toward the diner and the first of many firsts I would be experiencing over the next few weeks. I had absolutely no idea what was ahead of me, but I was ready for the adventure!
Lorie Ham ©2021
You can learn more on Lorie’s website https://www.mysteryrat.com/
Saturday, August 28, 2021
Ben Boulden's Review at Mystery Scene: Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
ANNOUNCEMENT: Launching "Giving the Devil His Due" Charity Anthology
KRL This Week Update for 8/28/2021
Up in KRL this morning a review and giveaway of "Dog Eat Dog" by David Rosenfelt https://kingsriverlife.com/08/28/dog-eat-dog-a-andy-carpenter-series-by-david-rosenfelt/
And reviews and giveaways of more fun mysteries for your summer reading-"A Glimmer of a Clue": A Fairy Garden Mystery by Daryl Wood Gerber, "Deadly Delights": A Bookish Baker Mystery by Laura Jensen Walker, "Death of an Italian Chef": A Hayley Powell Mystery by Lee Hollis, and "Reserved for Murder": A Booklover’s B&B Mystery by Victoria Gilbert https://kingsriverlife.com/08/28/end-of-august-mystery-catchup-food-fairies-bbs/
We also have the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier, along with a giveaway of 2 books featured in past Coming Attractions-"One for the Hooks" by Betty Hechtman and "Murphy’s Slaw" by Elizabeth Logan https://kingsriverlife.com/08/28/coming-attractions-tired-of-summer-edition/
And a review and ebook giveaway of "Dead Letters" by Sheila Lowe along with an interesting interview with Sheila https://kingsriverlife.com/08/28/dead-letters-by-sheila-lowe/
Up during the week we posted another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Maddie Day aka Edith Maxwell about her new book "No Grater Crime" and about her adventure learning about mushrooms. You can also enter to in a signed copy of the book https://kingsriverlife.com/08/25/finding-fatal-fungi/
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week a review and giveaway of "Trusting Uncertainty" by Terry Odell https://www.krlnews.com/2021/08/trusting-uncertainty-by-terry-odell.html
And a review and ebook giveaway of "Mosquito Bite Murder" by Leslie Langtry and published by Gemma Halliday Publishing
And a review and giveaway of "Body Over Troubled Waters" by Denise Swanson
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 10 Speculative Fiction Magazines Open for Submissions NOW - Paying Markets
Lesa's Book Critiques: SUMMER BY THE SEA BY JENNY HALE
Bitter Tea and Mystery: The Art of Violence: S. J. Rozan
Scott's Take: Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire
Half-Off Ragnarok is the third book in the book three in the InCryptid Series of novels by Seanan McGuire. This series revolves around the Price Family who are a group of American Game Wardens who specialize in mythological creatures. They keep the monsters safe from the humans while keeping the humans safe from the monsters. They do this while trying to keep themselves secret and keep most people from finding out that there are things like monsters among us.
Every few novels, the main character in the family that is focused on changes. In this novel Alexander Price is the lead character. He is currently working undercover in Ohio at the Columbus Zoo running the Herpetology Department. Things are going well so far. He is studying the local cryptological wildlife and raising basilisks in the bottom of the zoo. He is keeping peace with the local gorgon community while most of his fellow humans have no idea anything weird is going on. Everything was fine until the murder.
Someone was murdered in the zoo. Unfortunately, the problem is that the victim was partially turned to stone. Not only are the cops involved over the murder, the fact that the victim was partially turned to stone means there is extra interest. It is up to Alex to figure out who did this and why before people start asking uncomfortable questions that would make keeping the Cryptids secret difficult. Not only does he need to do that, he plans on keeping Crow, a mini griffin with serious attitude, as a pet and that means he has to figure out how to quietly do that.
Part mystery, part family history, part urban fantasy, with a dash of humor and science, this action filled series is quite unique. Each of the books in the series are pretty much stand-alone novels that tie into a larger universe. One does not need to read them in order to understand the series. This is just a fun series where the main characters to try to find a balance between the local cryptological community, some of which are sentiment and others are not, and their fellow humans.
If the idea of game wardens who deal with mythological creatures intrigues you, then this might be the series for you. The first book in the series is called Discount Armageddon. That first book stars Verity, Alex’s sister, who lives and works in New York and deals with the cryptological community there. The fourth book in the series is called Pocket Apocalypse which I will be requesting my local library to buy since they have the rest of the series. There are numerous books and a series of spinoff’s set in this universe and there are also numerous short stories. All of her short stories are free to download on author’s website as free reads so that potential readers can get a feel of what the series is like and about.
DAW Books, Inc. (Penguin)
Paperback (available in audio and eBook formats)
My copy came from the Lochwood Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2021
Friday, August 27, 2021
Lesa's Book Critiques: WINNERS AND A THRILLER GIVEAWAY
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 12 Print Literary Magazines Accepting Fiction, Poetry and Nonfiction - Paying markets
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
Beneath the Stains of Time: Lamb to the Slaughter (1995) by Jennifer Rowe
Happiness Is A Book: FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOK: UNHOLY DYING BY R. T. CAMPBELL
Jerry's House of Everything: FORGOTTEN BOOK: NO TRAVELLER RETURNS
FFB Review: MASTERS OF NOIR: Volume Four (2010) Reviewed by Barry Ergang
From the massive archive…
MASTERS OF NOIR: Volume Four (2010)
Reviewed by Barry Ergang
This is the fourth and—to date, at least, as far as I can tell—final e-anthology of stories collected from pulp digests from the 1950s and ’60s: Manhunt, Trapped Detective Story Magazine, and Murder.
Mickey Spillane opens the anthology with “The Pickpocket,” the story of Willie, a reformed criminal whose manual dexterity serves him well after he witnesses a shooting. As I mentioned regarding his story in Volume One in this series, it’s fascinating to read Spillane outside of his Mike Hammer mode, and in the third-person, no less. This story is slightly more hardboiled than that in the first volume, but a far cry from what you get in the novels.
In Volume Two of the series we had a story by Charles Jackson called “I Don’t Fool Around.” Here we have one with the same title by Lawrence Block in which a no-nonsense homicide detective is partnered with a “college cop” he can’t stand, and determined to finally take down professional killer Frank Calder, no matter what it takes.
Prison is a bad place for a convicted cop. Macalay knows that, but also knew after a meeting with Inspector Strane that “[H]e’d had a choice to make—which of two eight balls he’d get behind,” prison or a death sentence. So prison it was, and now he has to watch out for a “Man With a Shiv” as well as worry that he’ll become one himself as he struggles toward a kind of redemption in Richard Wormser’s sometimes brutal novelette. Note: parts of the story allude to prison homosexuality in a politically incorrect manner, which shouldn’t be surprising considering that it was originally published in 1956. But readers who find this sort of thing offensive should stay away, while others should take the era and context into account.
“The Floater” is identified as nineteen-year-old Lucille Taylor, and her death is neither suicidal or accidental; it’s a definite homicide. Detectives Jim Coren and Paul Brader investigate in this novelette by Jonathan Craig, who specialized in police procedurals.
The procedural routines might or might not be accurate—the story was published in 1955, so things may be vastly different today, and in any event I’m not qualified to say either way—but the storytelling has a too-routine, by-the-numbers feel to it, and the result is overlong, plodding, and not at all exciting. Characterization is flat (save for Mrs. Carpenter’s). A person Brader calls “a cold fish” doesn’t come across that way; he’s just a name on the page. The attempts at light banter between the police partners are forced and lame.
Harry Whittington admirably makes up for this with the next fast-moving story. Celia Carmic’s wealthy and successful husband Curt “had crashed in his private plane on an Everglades hunting trip. After a week of intensive searching, the Coast Guard had abandoned him as dead.” Celia has come to Jim Norton, a farmer and helicopter pilot to ask for his help in searching for Curt, who she can’t believe is dead. She’s willing to pay Norton a thousand dollars plus expenses for his help. In hock to his hairline and in desperate need of money, Norton agrees and the “Swamp Search” begins, as does his growing desire for Celia despite a suspicion that she’s not leveling with him about the situation, a suspicion that increases as days go by and things happen.
The serial killer known as The Butcher has brutally murdered five women. Lester Ferguson, husband of the latest victim, is the only person to have seen the “Face of Evil” and is Homicide Lieutenant Romano’s only hope of finally identifying the psychopath. But Ferguson has been hospitalized following a minor stroke, and is a man with a heart condition in a good, if somewhat predictable, story by David Alexander.
I’m frankly uncertain as to whether “Take Care of Yourself” by William Campbell Gault is just slightly offbeat and ends without the kind of resolution one expects from a detective story, or whether whoever transcribed it into e-book format forgot to finish the job. Private detective Joe Puma is hired by the wealthy Mr. Ladugo to keep a protective eye on his beautiful daughter Angela, who has a penchant for drinking in low-rent bars and for getting involved with lower-life men like Jean Hartley. I’d like to think the story as published herein is complete. In any event, it’s well-written, intriguing, and its open-ended quality doesn’t detract and, methinks, adds a little resonance.
When big, angry Rudy Ferris bursts into Chuck’s hotel room with an automatic in his hand and a burning urge to pull the trigger, Chuck has to feed him “The Fast Line” to try to prevent his brains from ending up on the wall. Rudy’s angry because his girlfriend Ella, restless and desirous of stirring things up in Leadsville, told him what she and Chuck did in her father’s barn. Art Crockett’s story is brief, fast, and furious.
Invited by a friend to a Hawaiian-themed Malibu beach party on a Sunday for lots of frolicking and rollicking, a private eye doesn’t expect to encounter a particularly grisly “Crime of Passion,” but amidst the potent sips of punch and lava-hot hulas, that’s exactly what he gets. As detective stories go, this one is on the thin side, but it was written by Richard S. Prather and stars Shell Scott, so you can be sure it’s entertaining.
Widower Andrew Barton lives alone in the big main house on his farm, fighting the prurient urges Deena May’s “Lust Song” arouse in him, and which prompt him to frequently spy on her. She’s the fourteen-year-old child bride of Hugh, Barton’s twenty-one-year-old hired hand. The couple live in a smaller house on the property, but Deena May would love to live in the big one, and suggests to Barton a way to make that happen. Stuart Friedman’s story, with its vivid characterizations, gives the anthology a strong finish.
With the reservations noted, I can recommend this collection, as I did with its predecessors, to crime fiction fans who enjoy a more hardboiled approach to the genre.
Barry Ergang © 2015, 2021
Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s written work has appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic. Some of it is available at Amazon and at Smashwords. His website is http://www.writetrack.yolasite.com/.