Thursday, March 31, 2022
Something Is Going To Happen: A Comeback for the Cozy Mystery? (by Janet Hutchings)
The Reading Room: Widowland by C.J. Carey: Reading Room Review
In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 3/31/2022
Review: No Accident: A Posadas County Mystery by Steven F. Havill
No Accident: A Posadas County Mystery by Steven F. Havill opens with Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman dealing with the aftermath of a brutal bar fight at the Broken Spur Saloon. Johnny Rabke is drunk and bleeding heavily, a tourist family of four is traumatized, and the unconscious combatant on the floor is Pablo Ramirez. He had pulled out a knife after exchanging insults, Johnny Rabke had swung a pool cue at least once, and had also ended the fight by throwing a billiard ball and nailing Ramirez in the right side of his head.
That fight and the charges and everything around all that becomes secondary as does life in Posadas when she gets a midnight call from her son, Francisco. Her first thought is that something has happened to her grandson but she can hear him in the background and so she knows he is okay. Instead, the call is about her other son, Carlos, and his wife, Tasha.
Francisco explains that Carlos and Tasha were on their tandem bike out in California and were run down. Both have suffered series injuries and are in the Temerly Trauma Treatment Center in Briones, California. Tasha is doing a little bit better than Carlos who is still in surgery and in a very bad way. Francisco and his family are headed to the airport in New York to board their private jet. They plan to fly to Posadas and pick up mom and dad, Estelle and her husband, Dr. Francis Guzman, and go to California to be there for Carlos and Tasha.
Before long the entire group is on the ground in California. As it happens, Eddie Mitchell is a captain with the Briones Police Department and supervising the investigation as it is clear that this was no simple hit and run. This was definitely attempted murder. Not only were they run over once, the driver backed up and hit them a second time. Not only does he want Estelle and the family to be fully supported as they await to see if Carlos survives his life-threatening injuries, Mitchell is determined to find the guilty party or parties and get them off the street and in custody.
To do that, he is going to walk a tightrope as he wants Estelle’s help, but she has no authority in California. He also knows how she is and does not want her independently pursuing her own lines of inquiry or doing anything that could give a defense lawyer ammunition at trial. Things get more complicated quickly as a body is found that could be tied into the case.
What follows is a complicated read that shifts back and forth from the hospital and the patients to the actual investigation of the crime. While there are the occasional brief contacts with the folks back home, the vast majority of the novel takes place out in California. Along the way, the author spends considerable time on family dynamics, the predatory behavior of some men towards women, and other issues as the investigation moves forward on multiple fronts. It is not until the last chapter and the final eight pages that the initial event that started the book is resolved.
Overall, while not the best read in this long running series, No Accident: A Posadas County Mystery was entertaining and enjoyable. Though the tale was interesting, this reader missed the New Mexico setting which is often so effectively used a character in its own right. This reader was also frequently reminded of the idea that it is good to have friends, but having plenty of money to deal with emergencies helps too. So too does having your own doctor in the family.
My print reading copy came by way of Aubrey Nye Hamilton to sent it to me after she had read it. Yet another way Aubrey does wonderful things for me and this blog. Thank you, Aubrey. As always.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2022
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Euro Crime: Published 28-31 March 2022
Lesa's Book Critiques: THE KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY BY JOHN SCALZI
Beneath the Stains of Time: Reconstructive Nostalgia: Q.E.D. vol. 17-18 by Motohiro Katou
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Chasing History, Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Melungeon Winter, The Poison Squad
Do Some Damage: The Nick Kolakowski Interview
SleuthSayers: Unknowing What You Know by Rebecca K Jones
George Kelly: WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #62: EVIL EARTHS Edited by Brian Aldiss
Patti Abbott: Short Story Wednesday: "Kill the Cat" Loren Estleman
Bitter Tea and Mystery: Short Story Wednesday: An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten
Little Big Crimes Review: Crime Scene by Joseph S. Walker
Short Story Wednesday Review: To Serve, Protect, and Write: Cops Writing Crime Fiction Volume 1 Editor A. B. Patterson
To Serve, Protect, and Write: Cops Writing Crime Fiction Volume 1 features 15 tales written by current or former members of law enforcement. While the preponderance of the tales included here feature stories on the bob, many do not. This anthology features an international assemblage of authors reflecting experience in law enforcement around the globe as well as varied perspectives on crime fiction. The result is an entertaining read.
After an introduction by Editor A. B. Patterson that goes into considerable detail regarding the premise and the ground rules of the anthology, it is on to the stories. The first one is a historical tale by Christopher Allen titled, “All Good Things Must Begin.” Subtitled “The first Frank DeGrae Case” the tale features an attempted theft, an officer involved shooting, and possible police corruption.
The next tale is also a historical piece as the year is 1936 and it is June in San Francisco. “Johnny Walker” by Thonie Hevron has Jack and Captain Ronald Bertrand head out to a strangulation of a woman in the Embarcadero area. Bertrand is not on the up and up and the fact that he is actually leaving the office at the Kearney Street Hall of Justice means something is going on more than this particular homicide.
“I Remember Who I Am” by Michael O’Keefe comes next where our narrator is Robbie Meyer. A cop working in Dunson, Ohio. A cop whose faith, family history, and legacy, will be tested on a call in the old north-east section of town. How he handles that call as well as his actions afterwards are part of the process of Robbie Meyer staying true to himself.
Readers go cross the pond to the Dublin International airport as “Dublin to Liverpool” by Barry Lees begins. Detective Constable Trevor Massingham has been on an undercover stakeout for four days watching travelers. He has been sent from Liverpool to sit in the airport and watch those who are passing through on their way elsewhere. The hope was that he would be able to identify potential drug mules as they boarded aircraft. A new batch of ecstasy has hit the streets of Liverpool in recent days and is worse than the normal stuff.
Helen Mathews, literary agent, is sitting in front of her fireplace in her farm house in Maine as “His First” by P. J. Bodnar begins. As she rejects a submission, she tosses the pages into her fireplace, making use of the hard work of others to heat her home. She is not alone. Before long the police will be involved as life changes for several people this night.
“Cold Comfort” by Desmond P. Ryan begins on a night where a cold rain is falling. Despite the nastiness of the night, Detectives Mike O’Shea and Ron Roberts had to go out and do something. Anything at all to get out of the office for a little while. The plan was to go get a coffee. As it happens, before they get there, they get a dispatch to go to their intended coffeeshop to investigate a sudden death.
Deputy Rory Comeaux is dealing with all of the complications of being a woman in full uniform and needing to use the restroom as “The Ladysmith” by Pearson O’Meara begins. While she is dealing with the lack of room for her and her gear in the bathroom stall, a killer lurks nearby. A lot is change to happen in the next few minutes as well as the weeks to come in this part of Southern Louisiana.
Corporal Seaton and his trainee, Officer Day, are dispatched to the Bat Hovno Blazon Institution. While Corporal Seaton thought the 911 call was possibly exaggerated in “Riot In The Mental Institution” by Ryan Sayles, it is soon very clear the call was no exaggeration. There definitely is a riot. It is going to be a very long call.
Since the arrest, Detective Bill Derbyshire has not been feeling right. There is a reason for that as is slowly revealed in “The Snug” by Keith Wright. His final shift as he takes retirement was the arrest of an armed criminal. It is a good way to finish thirty years on the job.
It is a dark and nearly deserted road in Alabama where she pulls over. An elderly woman, she thinks she saw something out of the corner of her eye as she drove by the scene so she stops. Good thing she did in “The Old Lady” by T. K. Thorne. Good thing also that she lives to talk about what she saw that night.
“The Translator” by James Ellson features a family on the run. They have to move yet again thanks to his job and security concerns. There has been a breech, but nobody yet knows how damaging it is or if there is a real security threat. Time will tell. In the meantime, the translator will do his own investigation when he is not doing his assigned tasks.
Angel Castello is in town to do a job in the Saint Louis Area. Darla has a deal going and needs to make an example of somebody refusing to pay what is owed. Angelo is in the family business, but he does not like it. He also has to make sure to get the job done right in “The Carpenter’s Son” by Mark Atley. Unlike most of the tales in the book, law enforcement does not have much presence in this solid crime fiction tale.
Our narrator has a lot to think about as she waits to give court testimony in “Waiting” by Lisa Cutts. Especially in terms of Clive and their last call on a recent shift.
Editor A. B. Patterson comes next with “Rights and Wrongs” and reflects how law enforcement is changing. Harrington has a new boss who clearly does not think much of him. The new boss has all the touchy-feely tags on his resume that are trendy in policing, but nothing that reflects actual police work. Thanks to a complaint being investigated by internal affairs, the new boss is more than happy to confine Harrington to desk duty. The Azalea Quinn case led to the complaint and is the subject of much of this story.
Frank Zafiro takes a shot at predicting the future of law enforcement in the short story that is the last one in the book. “The Last Cop” is set a couple of decades in the future where officers no longer carry guns, have to get court orders to talk to anyone, and banned words get a person fined. Individual freedom has morphed into a strange new world where cops use “compliance sticks” that give a mild shock and private security has taken over law enforcement functions for those who can afford it. Officer Ramirez is about to be shown the door under mandatory retirement and he just might be the last officer with an actual gun. He will need it, no matter what the boss thinks.
An acknowledgment section and extensive bios of the authors involved in order of appearance bring the book to a close.
While this reviewer had his personal favorites, all of the authors involved weaved solidly good and complex tales. Most included a strong law enforcement presence in the tale. Not all of the cops are good guys and not all of the cops are bad guys. Instead, like real life, there is a lot of grey in To Serve, Protect, and Write: Cops Writing Crime Fiction Volume 1. Compiled, edited, and published by A. B. Patterson, the anthology is well worth your time.
I picked this up in eBook format back in early February using funds in my Amazon Associate account.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2022
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Criminal Minds: The Case of the New Criminal Mind by Stephen Mack Jones
Lesa's Book Critiques: KNIGHT OWL BY CHRISTOPHER DENISE
SleuthSayers: You’re Only Famous When You Die by Michael Bracken
The First Two Pages: “Death Floor” by Martin Limón
Review: Shadows Reel: A Joe Picket Novel by C. J. Box
Shadows Reel: A Joe Picket Novel by C. J. Box begins the day before Thanksgiving. It has been a few weeks since recent events (Dark Sky: A Joe Pickett Novel) and Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett is still recovering though he is back to work. He is feeling the aches and pains as his body continues to heal as well as his age, but is glad to be out in the field and doing his job. back at work He is looking forward to Thanksgiving and all the company which will include Liv Romanowski and her baby daughter, Kestrel, as Nate Romanowski is away and on the trail of the violent outlaw falconer, Axel Soledad. That hunt and Nate’s POV becomes one of the three storylines in the read and is slowly revealed.
But, at this point, that is all in the future as Pickett and his dog, Daisy, head to business at hand. The destination is the Crazy Z-Bar Ranch, where owner Lorne Trumley has reported a dead moose on his property. The hunting season for moose ended a couple weeks ago so this is a problem.
It soon becomes clear that a far bigger problem is going on than a dead moose when he arrives in the general area. Something smells like burned pork. Ravens are on top of the dark mound which is still smoldering in spots as evidenced by the smoke/steam coming upwards on this chilly morning. Pickett grabs his binoculars and looks at the mound and suddenly everything is much clearer.
It is a body.
A body means investigation by the recently elected Scott Tibbs. It also means that Sheriff Tibbs is not a fan of Joke Pickett and does not appreciate the fact that Joe Picket has created a mess that has to be dealt with at Thanksgiving. As if Joe Pickett scheduled and planned the events. Tibbs does not want Pickett anywhere around, but of course Pickett is going to keep his nose in the investigation as that is what he does.
He is not alone in that as his wife MaryBeth tends to do the same thing with matters that his close to home. These days she is now the director of the library and often comes to work before everyone else. Pulling into her space at the library before dawn that same morning that soon saw her husband looking at a smoldering dead body, she had witnessed somebody leaving a package at the door of the building. The drop-off by the shadowy figure was spooky as was the way the package appeared. It is only after she takes some pictures of it and then unwraps the package does she realize that it is some sort of detailed leatherbound photo album that dates back to the 1930s. It documents a year in the life of a Nazi government official by the name Julius Streicher. It is a legacy of nightmarish history.
It is also a book that some will kill for as Mary Beth, Joe Pickett, and family and friends soon learn. They want it back and don’t care what they have to do to get it.
Nate’s hunt for the violent outlaw falconer, MaryBeth’s album, and the discovery of the body by Joe Pickett, are the three plot lines that are the storytelling pillars of Shadows Reel: A Joe Pickett Novel by C. J. Box. As befitting a book in a well-established series, there is not really any character development here. Much of the read is from the perspective of Mary Beth as she researches the book and comes to grips with the horrors it represents as well as the current threat that exists. Because of that situation as well as the hunt by Nate, much of this book has Joe Pickett regulated to the sidelines. This reader prefers reads where he is front and center and not so much on the periphery of various things. Still, while not the best work in the series, this reader enjoyed the complicated tale.
My reading copy came from the Dallas Public Library System by way of the OverDrive eBook app.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2022
Monday, March 28, 2022
Trace Evidence: The Great Catamaran Jacking and Other Happy Accidents by Robert Mangeot
Lesa's Book Critiques: A DIRE ISLE BY RV RAMAN
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Visualizing The Beatles: A Complete Graphic History of the World's Favorite Band by John Pring and Rob Thomas
SleuthSayers: Looking For the Next Best Thing by Steve Liskow
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 95 Calls for Submissions in April 2022 - Paying Markets
In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 3/28/2022
Markets & Jobs for Writers for 3/28/2022
Aubrey Nye Hamilton Reviews: Family Money by Chad Zunker
Family Money by Chad Zunker (Thomas & Mercer, 2022) is a stand-alone from the author of the David Adams legal thrillers and the Sam Callahan series. This is a mix of a domestic thriller and a legal thriller and a fine mix it is.
Alex Mahan is leading a dream life in Austin, Texas. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart Taylor, they have two beautiful children, and his new tech company is growing beyond expectations. He has his supportive father-in-law to thank for the latter. Joe Dobson was a successful lawyer who always backed Alex, even before he married Joe’s only child. It was Joe who found the money to establish Alex’s start-up and to market it properly.
On a family vacation to Mexico, Joe is seized by three men in a busy marketplace and dragged to a van in front of a crowd. The local police tell Alex that kidnappings are quite common and to go home and wait for a ransom note. The note doesn’t come. Instead the burned-out van with a charred body in it turns up. The body can’t be identified but Joe’s wedding ring is in the ashes. The family is shattered.
Alex is the executor of Joe’s estate and as he sorts through bank information, he finds no records of the money Joe gave him for his company. Joe’s financial planner did not know about the venture capital Joe invested and was startled to learn he had that much money. Alex begins looking for the source of his company’s funding and unexpectedly walks into a hornets’ nest.
This story reminded me of Linwood Barclay’s thrillers. An ordinary person goes about his basic boring life until everything suddenly turns sideways. Some of the plot elements are shiny from overuse but like a good cook faced with a refrigerator full of leftovers Zunker tosses them into his blender with some original ingredients and turns out a fresh and absorbing thriller. Recommended!
· Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (March 1, 2022)
· Language: English
· Paperback: 239 pages
· ISBN-10: 1542026164
· ISBN-13: 978-1542026161
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2022
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Lesa's Book Critiques: FRONT PAGE MURDER BY JOYCE ST. ANTHONY
Dru's Book Musings New Releases: Week of March 27, 2022
SleuthSayers: Me & Ol' Bobble Head by R. T. Lawton
Saturday, March 26, 2022
NOIR AT THE BAR: Dallas ---Thursday Evening
To the right is the revised reading lineup for Noir At the Bar: Dallas this coming Thursday evening.
I plan on reading a tale that was published long ago. It is not a suicide tale no matter what two editors thought at the time when they rejected it for their respective publications. “Bars Of The Heart” is a dark tale that was partially inspired by our plane flight home in June of 1985 after our wedding. We went through some scary things to get back on the ground at DFW. Nearly two months later, much of the same stuff happened, and another plane would not be so lucky. The nation and the world would see the sights, sounds, and destruction of the Delta 191 crash at DFW.
KRL This Week Update for 3/26/2022
Up on KRL this morning a review and giveaway of "Murder at the CDC" by Jon Land https://kingsriverlife.com/03/26/margaret-trumans-murder-at-the-cdc-by-jon-land/
Lesa's Book Critiques: THE SUITE SPOT BY TRISH DOLLER
Beneath the Stains of Time: The Case of the Faithful Heart (1939) by Brian Flynn
Judy Penz Sheluk: Let’s Talk About Writing: Exercising the Writing Muscle
A Writer's Life....Caroline Clemmons: DON'T LET THE BOOGEY MAN GET YOU!
Scott's Take: Batman: The Detective by Tom Taylor
Batman: The Detective by Tom Taylor is an Elseworld’s tale that features a much older Batman. After a series of grisly murders in Europe, Batman leaves Gotham and goes overseas to find the culprits who are killing people that Batman has saved. They call themselves “Equilibrium” and must be stopped. Along the way Batman will be joined by some of his European allies.
This is an action-packed tale with plenty of violence and character exploration. This version of Batman is older, even more cynical, and worn down by life. If you are a Batman fan who is looking for a tale that takes Batman far away from Gotham, then you should enjoy this. I enjoyed Batman: The Detective by Tom Taylor.
My reading copy came via the Hoopla App and the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2022
Friday, March 25, 2022
Lesa's Book Critiques: A BRAND NEW GIVEAWAY
Writer Beware: Requesting Rights Reversion From Your Publisher
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Claw and Disorder by Eileen Watkins
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 11 Dark Fiction and Horror Publications Open for Open for Submissions NOW - Paying markets
In Reference To Murder: Friday's "Forgotten" Books: The Long Shadow
Happiness Is A Book: FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOK: LADY TO KILL BY LESTER DENT
FFB Review: Back on Murder: A Roland March Mystery by J. Mark Bertrand
From the massive
For some police officers the dead body is the end of the case. The search for the living is over and there is nothing left to do. For homicide detectives the body is the start. The dead body is the door opening on a case waiting to be solved. For Homicide Detective Ronald March, the results of a shootout in southwest Houston are his ticket back to fully functioning in Homicide and ending his exile of being farmed out on garbage details.
If he does not screw it up.
Since that fateful tragic day seven years ago, things have not been right personally or professionally. What happens over the next few weeks and months in the summer and fall of 2008 might be his last chance at everything.
A local loan shark by the name of Octavio Morales is dead as are several of his criminal associates. Detective March should not even be in the house surveying the carnage as he has fallen out of favor with his bosses. But, a house full of dead gang bangers brings out everyone and March couldn't stay away. It has been far too long since he last worked a real murder case and he burns with the need to work one. He surveys the scene and only March spots the evidence that indicates that a hostage was there and now is gone.
Despite the fact that he alone found the evidence, March is still locked into the bottom of the pecking order and wasting his time with crummy assignments. Whether it is the frequent sting operations enticing bad guys to show up and claim the cars they won, the cop suicides he gets stuck with, or a number of others, the details are garbage jobs. March has earned his bottom feeder status and he isn't going anywhere. At least, until he spotted the evidence that no one else noticed and changed the case from a routine killing to a missing hostage search. That earns him a temporary reprieve and minor league status in the Morales case.
Assuming he doesn't screw up.
But, he will. He does. And yet, March also makes his own kind of twisted luck. It may be tarnished luck but under all the slime there is luck and every now and then he comes through in a strange way.
This debut mystery by author J. Mark Bertrand features the usual stereotypical elements of a burned out detective, a nearly destroyed marriage thanks to personal tragedy, and a city that is little more than a cesspool with a population stirred up by a hysterical media tracking a missing person's case. Usually these sorts of books are set in Los Angeles. Instead, the former Texas resident set it in Houston and also managed to weave in Hurricane Ike from a couple of years back along the way.
Somehow, despite beating the stereotype drum in nearly every area, J. Mark Bertrand makes it work. Before long, one gets pulled in the noirish style world of Ronald March where he frequently makes mistakes and yet survives against all the odds. Psychology is a huge part of this novel and March quickly becomes not only your friend but a guy you know that just seems to always have the deck stacked against him. He can't play politics, goes his own way and does not fit in, and yet manages to always get the job done.
The author's MFA in creative writing from the University of Houston shows throughout the debut novel as one gets the feeling every character trait and plot point is orchestrated for effect in order to make a nice neat check mark on the master list. At the same time, when he is actively working and on the chase, occasional overwriting and stereotypical blemishes vanish as Mr. Bertrand brings the scenes alive so well you can almost taste it. It is when the action slows and March becomes contemplative about his life and what has happened that the novel drifts a bit. That also means occasional errors in grammar, pacing, the timeline of the novel, etc. are glaringly more present.
Just like in real life, not everything in Back On Murder is tied up in a nice neat package. While most plot lines are tied off well, one minor storyline involving a tenant is cut off way too nice and neat. It comes to an abrupt dead stop and results in a missed opportunity for further character development and secondary plot. Considering how hard the storyline had been pushed up until the abrupt ending, the reader is left to wonder why it just suddenly ended in that way.
Overall, the novel is good, but not as great as it could be. This may be a case where writers would be a bit harsher in their criticism of the book than the average reader as we recognize the tricks being used to tell the tale. Still, the read is full of mystery, political infighting, action, and no easy answers and results in a 382 book that will keep you guessing most of the way through. J. Mark Bertrand has a fairly decent foundation of a series to work from based on this book. It will be interesting to see how it goes in the next novel in the series, Pattern Of Wounds, scheduled to be published this July by Bethany House.
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2011, 2022
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Something Is Going To Happen: James Crumley’s Unfilmable Masterpiece (by Jameson Trahearne)
Lesa's Book Critiques: WHAT ARE YOU READING?
Dark City Underground: REVIEW: "THE SPOTTED CATS" BY WILLIAM G. TAPPLY
Blood-Red Pencil: Revisiting Writing Distractions and Old Manuscripts by Dani Greer
Literotica: HAMMERED: AN ODE TO MICKEY SPILLANE 2022 - COMING SOON
Joan Reeves: Book Spotlight: Vegetable Gardening from the Ground Up by Stephanie Suesan Smith
Trace Evidence: When TV Lost its Innocence by Robert Lopresti
In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 3/24/2022
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 50 Writing Contests in April 2022 - No entry fees
Jeanne Reviews: Murder at St. Winifred’s Academy by J.D. Griffo
Tranquility, New Jersey hasn’t been all that tranquil. Good thing that Alberta Ferrara and her family are there to investigate and clear things up, in between trying flavors of vodka, eating Entenmann’s cakes and Italian dishes, and yelling at one another. This time around, Tranquility is all agog over the arrival of former child star Missy Michaels who is about to make her acting comeback on the town’s stage in a revival of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Unfortunately, before she tread the boards, Missy is found dead backstage, clutching a bottle of arsenic. Is it a dramatic suicide—or murder?
This is the fifth in the series of the Ferrara Family Mystery series, and it pretty much follows the same formulas as the others. Center stage is Alberta, accompanied by her granddaughter Jinx, sister Helen (who really was a Sister—as in nun), and sister-in-law Joyce, who will investigate and solve the crimes that leave town cop Vinnie scratching his head. While formulaic, the series does have its moments, especially in the dialog between Helen, Joyce, and Alberta. I have laughed out loud at some of the lines, and the author does do a really good job of creating a vivid backstory and filmography for Missy Michaels. I know that sounds a bit odd, but by taking bits and pieces from various real film series, he describes a fictional series that seems so very familiar that I was half tempted to look it up in imdb.com. (There’s a graphic novel, Child Star by Box Brown, which does the same thing. It’s excellent.) Griffo has a background in drama, including writing screenplays, so he knows his way around a stage.
There are some clunky passages and occasionally the plot spins a bit out of control. Also, characters tend to yell, announce, scream, shriek, and shout. There’s an information dump near the end. Some readers have felt that the Italian characters are too stereotypical.
Personally, I had a lot of fun with these. I don’t worry too much about plot and just enjoy the back and forth between the Alberta, Joyce, and Helen. Helen in particular is very opinionated and not afraid to speak her mind. She also has a strong sense of self-worth. I would pay money to have seen her in this production of Arsenic and Old Lace, with or without Missy Michaels.
Of course, there is a cat: Lola, aka Gina Lollobrigida.
The books in the series are:
Murder on Memory Lake
Murder in Tranquility Park
Murder at Icicle Lodge
Murder at Veronica’s Diner
Murder at St. Winifred’s Academy
Murder at the Mistletoe Ball
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Do Some Damage: A conversation with Nikki Dolson
Lesa's Book Critiques: MUSEUMS & BROADWAY – TRYING AGAIN
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 23 Awesome Writing Conferences in April 2022
Electric Lit: Being a Public Librarian Can Be Dangerous Work, Why Don’t We Acknowledge That?
Beneath the Stains of Time: Inspector De Klerck and the Dark Web (2022) by P. ...
George Kelly: WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #61: BEYOND THE VEIL Edited by Mark Morris
Little Big Crimes Review: The Peculiar Affliction of Allison White by Jesse Bethea
Short Story Wednesday Review: Dirty Old Town And Other Stories by Nigel Bird
Featuring nine stories by Edinburgh resident Nigel Bird, this short collection features tales told by adults and juveniles dealing with dark days and even darker thoughts. The characters often are not happy go lucky folks. These are people trying to survive in a world stacked against them. As such, sometimes the language is a bit coarse but life is not all tea and crumpets for these folks.
This short book opens with “Drinking Wine.” She has kids at home and needs a break. If the babysitter hadn’t arrived wearing a tight mini skirt, fishnets and a top that barely covered anything, maybe she wouldn’t have gotten the idea and then went to the bar called “The Dog and Dude.” But, she did in her own sexy outfit and now a fellow drinker is making her feel all tingly with thoughts of Roger far from her mind. The night is young, the possibilities are endless, and things are going to go sideways.
The life of a janitor in a school is never an easy one. Especially when some sort of stomach bug is going around in “Taking a Line for a Walk.” Duke Earl has to quit painting the fence and go clean up the latest mess. He’s seen a lot of things over the years and knows his time on this earth is running out---one way or another.
In “Dirty Old Town” a man named “Chalky Fish” awakes from a beating realizing that not only does he massively hurt, but he lost a tooth and the sight out of one eye. He also managed to lose a button off his favorite jacket. At least the first punch had been good one because it knocked him out. The bad thing is the next day is going to be worse on so many levels.
The young boy is a long way from home in London every time he goes to visit his Gran on the island of Skye. This trip is different because not only did they have more stuff, but dad didn’t make the trip this time with him, his brother Davey and mom. Along with telling readers what life is like for the eight year old narration, author Nigel Bird weaves in just below the surface a bit of dangerous undercurrent in “Sea Minor.” Something is at work on this island where modern conveniences like television and computer aren’t possible.
Sometimes somebody gets the idea that it is their job to clean the city or village streets of what they think is human trash. The three women picked up by Brandon and his friends might have different ideas about that in “Sisterhood.”
Like in “Dirty Old Town” sport serves as a backdrop to “One hundred And Ten Per Cent.” Vincent Love is trying to confine his running to the track. He doesn’t want to go back to prison and run in the yard ever again. Getting a good start whether or the track or running from the flashing lights of the cops is everything. No matter how fast he runs, he can’t run from the past.
Craig does not want to go down the chimney but dad insists he has to in “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).” After all, dad intends to make sure the boy honors his promise to mom about getting her a pearl necklace. Too bad the boy thought they would actually buy one.
“Three Little Birds” tells readers what they instinctively know. Some kids have that look in their eye of evil. Danny had it and proved on occasion growing up. These days he is in adult, back in the area, and something needs to be done.
The pimp game has done okay for Brad in “Silver Street.” He may only be 17 but he has plans. Big plans. They include a certain young lady because they are destined to be together.
This collection of previously published fiction in a variety of markets shares a common theme of loss and lament. Sometimes the situation is due to decisions and actions that the primary character did in the past and the character is struggling to turn things around despite the obstacles. Sometimes it happens because not everything or everyone is as the primary character believed.
Sacrifice and desperate scrambling to survive are present in all of these good stories. Dirty Old Town And Other Stories features dark works that take readers down the back ways, into seedy pubs, and places you may never have known about in merry old England. Tales of noir that pull you in quickly before spitting you back out like the loser you truly are at the very core of your being. These are not tales that make you feel good as many are truly at the end of their rope. No, these are tales that drag the ugly out into the light and make you look at it and identify with it on every level.
Author supplied a word document for this book for purposes of an objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2011, 2022