Sunday, October 23, 2016

Stone Soup, by David Edgerley Gates

"Stone Soup," by David Edgerley Gates, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, November 2016.

This is the fourth appearance by David Edgerley Gates in my Best-of-the Week list, the first since he joined me on the SleuthSayers blog.

It is also the second appearance here for Mickey Counihan, who works for the Hannahs, an Irish crime family in 1940s New York.  Mickey describes himself in this story as "muscle," but he's being modest.  I'd call him a fixer, running some low level schemes, and looking out for the family's interest.  Here is Mickey describing the status quo:

We'd made peace with the capos, the money my kids brought in from the numbers racket was steady, wagers at the racetrack books were up, sin was paying off on our investment.

But sin was the problem facing a guy named Hinny Boggs, who asked Mickey for help.  His wife's second cousin, Ginger, was pregnant and unwed.  Worse, she wanted to keep the baby.  Much worse, the father was Monsignor Devlin, the cardinal's right hand man. Which meant Ginger had to vanish before she wound up in much worse trouble than just being in trouble.

She doesn't need a white knight, though.  Just a black hat like Mickey, willing to pull in favors and negotiate deals with some of his personal enemies for a woman he's never met. 

My one complaint about this story is that Gates under-utilized the metaphor in his title.  As I recall, in the old tale it took a whole village to make stone soup, which is relevant to the events here.

Very satisfactory piece.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

When You Wish Upon A Star, by Colin Cotterill

"When You Wish Upon A Star," by Colin Cotterill, in Sunshine Noir, edited by Annamaria Alfieri and Michael Stanley, White Sun Books, 2016.

This book ends on a high note with its third appearance in this column.  

Our protagonist is a former crime reporter, now reduced to covering social events for the local weekly in the area she moved to for family reasons.  When a well-off woman dies in a  bizarre car accident - crashing off an unfinished bridge over a river - the reporter suspects that the death was no accident.

Nice setting but what really made it for me was the motive, which is an utterly modern get-rich scheme I have never seen in crime fiction before.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Someone's Moved the Sun, by Jeffrey Siger

"Someone's Moved the Sun," by Jeffrey Siger, in Sunshine Noir, edited by Annamaria Alfieri and Michael Stanley, White Sun Books, 2016.

Toni plays piano in a gay bar on an island in Greece.  To pay the bills he (I assume Toni is a he. As near as I can tell, it is not specified) is also an unlicensed private eye.  That means he helps tourists and others get stolen property back.

This time his client is a wealthy man named Kleftis who seems to have lost a backpack. What was in it?  Cash, certainly.  Black market jewelry, very likely.  Perhaps something more sinister than that?

 Toni thinks he knows who may have done it but there are dangers in proceeding:

Perhaps I could entice one of their local gang members into making a side deal, but that ran the very real risk of someone ending up buried alongside the backpack.  Correction: Make that someone me.

A nice modern variation of the classic P.I. tale.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Assassination, by Leye Adenle

"The Assassination," by Leye Adenle, in Sunshine Noir, edited by Annamaria Alfieri and Michael Stanley, White Sun Books, 2016.

I can't tell which African country this is taking place.  Probably just ignorance on my part.  Otunba is a big businessman and all-around creep.  Such a creep, in fact, that someone (maybe many someones) want him dead.

We watch as the net tightens around him, but he doesn't see it.  And he just keeps making the world a little worse as he goes his merry way.

This story made my week because of the neat twist ending, which I enjoyed a lot.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pandora's Bluff by Gilbert M. Stack.

"Pandora's Bluff," by Gilbert M. Stack, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, October 2016.

I am very fond of Stack's Western stories about an unlikely trilogy of travelers.  Corey is a professional bare fist boxer, brave and strong and kind.  Patrick is his manager, more likely to cause trouble than solve it.  Neither of them is very bright but the difference is Corey knows it.  Their companion is Miss Pandora Parsons,  a professional gambler, and she is the brains of the outfit. 

This story begins  with Miss Parson deep in a poker game somewhere in Idaho.   Also playing is a doctor and a banker who wants some land the doctor owns.  It's pretty clear what's going to happen, but can Pandora straighten out the mess that follows?

Well, of course she can.  The plot is no big puzzle, although her quick-thinking provides a nice twist.  The real pleasure of this series is running into these old friends again.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

One Last Job, by Warren Bull

"One Last Job," by Warren Bull, in No Happy Endings, 2016.

This is Bull's second appearance in this blog.

Our hero is a private eye.  He survived World War II and has survivor's guilt about that, but he may not have it much longer, because cancer is killing him.  A friend offers him one last job: track down a beautiful woman who has gone missing.

He does, but the reason she is being hunted is not any of the reasons you might expect.  And before he can decide what to do about that something happens which he actually did expect: a bank robbery.  And he and the young woman both have to decide what to do about that. 

Snappy dialog between the two main characters.  Nice surprise (but not a twist) ending.

last job