In recent days, the Mysterical-E: December 2021 issue dropped after more than a year since the last issue. The new issue is a mishmash of good short stories and other content that is sorely lacking. In short, this issue does not rise to the long-established level one expects from this zine.
After a short publisher note by Joe Demarco, it is on to the
stories that lead off the issue. Quality stories have always been the heart of Mysterical-E
and such is the case here. There are six tales and all are good ones.
“Benny’s Luck” by K.A. Williams leads off where Benny is on
a quest because his woman wants jewelry. One way or another he intends to make
her happy. With his record, his options are few.
Sheriff Lucy Valentine does her best to keep the peace in “Gas
Pains” by John M. Floyd. Things tend to escalate quickly in this fun tale that
starts with the good Sheriff witnessing illegal posting of signs.
One does not expect to set out in the morning and find the
body of a dead neighbor. Jane Howard did in “Murder in Little Venice” by Andrew
Smith. The nylon rope probably had something to do with it as did the small oval
bruise on each side of his neck.
Linda knows exactly what her step mom is and what she wants
in “The Deceivers” by Jan Christenson. Somebody needs to help Dad see the
light. Or, for that matter, just remove the problem.
“The Third Monkey- A Gill Tanner Mystery” by Tom Woodward is
a classic mystery set in the 1930s. A broke private detective, a bar that
serves as the detective’s second office, a beautiful babe who is as dangerous
as she is beautiful, and other classic ingredients mix well in this highly atmospheric
Deputy George Tanka has been watching the thunderheads build
and headed into Bridger County in “The Ghost of Maitland Scarp” by Carl and Jane
Bock. While the rain is good for ranchers and their livestock, it means flooded
washes and trouble in places like the Maitland Scarp. A place that already has
a well-deserved negative reputation.
If you are on FB, especially on Mysterical-E FB page, you
probably have seen the constant and often several times a day book promo by Joe
Cosentino. In this issue, “Book Excerpt: Drama TV” he has a book blurb and
extended excerpt from his recently published book along with numerous social media
and buy links for more information.
Next up is “Mysteryical-Eye: Getting Back To It” by Gerald
So. Much of the tv news in the piece is very old information by now. Nearly all
of the shows discussed in the piece have not been new for a year and are
deep into their second seasons with another one long since cancelled as planned.
The movie referred to in the piece debuted last spring, had little to do with
the book that it came from, and bombed so badly it has killed that franchise
for some time to come.
Next up is Christine Verstraete with “Some Books for Winter
Reading.” This is a roundup of news and excerpts of various books and anthologies
as well as some background info on the authors and how the books came to be.
The emphasis is on cozy mysteries.
While billed as from the publisher the “What’s Your Process”
feature is still written by author Kay George. This time she features Cathy
Pickens, L. C. Hayden, and Michele Drier. In each case, there is a short bio
and discussion of how each author creates their stories. Interesting and informative
Next up are two “Interview with a Reader” segments by
Barbara Hodges. I see absolutely no point in naming the two individuals
featured as there was zero explanation of who these people are, why or how they
were selected, and what relevance they have with anything. It was not explained
at all why anyone should care about their answers any more than why we should
ever care what some random person on the street has to say when questioned by a
media personality of the day.
The issue concludes with two items that are billed as
reviews and are absolutely not reviews.
First up is the non-review, “Book Review: One of Us by
Lorrie Ham.” Written by Vero Caravetta who opens with “In this well plotted
mystery….” followed by a blow-by-blow regurgitation of much of the plot. There is zero
analysis of any aspect of the book.
The issue concludes with “Review: Justice For All” anthology
by the publisher Joe Demarco. He also happens to be the co-editor of the
anthology. Beyond the ethics in that one never reviews anything one wrote,
edited, or published, this piece is in no way a review. This non review is nothing more than publisher promo content for the anthology.
Mysterical-E has always been known primarily for the stories
and how good they have been over the issues. Such is the case here with six
enjoyable mystery short stories. While I had three definite preferences, all
six are well done tales sure to please readers.
The rest of the issue features outdated program
information, reviews that are not reviews, and irrelevant segments. The sole notable
exception is Kaye George’s interview of various authors regarding their writing
process. This feature is consistently good and informative, issue to issue, and
the sole redeeming aspect of the back half of this issue.
Overall, the new issue has a very slapped together and
sloppy feel. The names of the author who wrote the pieces are often missing from the
TOC, misidentified at the article, and titles are often not properly
capitalized at the article. This suggests a lack of attention to detail as does
the inclusion of reviews that are not reviews, very old tv and movie news, and
other previously noted problems. While the stories and the Kay George piece
meet reader expectations and do it quite well, the rest of the issue absolutely
Mysterical- E: December 2021 certainly does not meet the normal expectations of this reader for this publication.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2021