Sunday, October 30, 2016

Widowman, by Matthew Hockey

"Widowman," by Matthew Hockey, in Fast Women and Neon Lights: Eighties Inspired Neon Noir, edited by Michael Pool, 2016.

The publishers sent me a free e-copy of this book.  And this is Hockey's second appearance in this blog.

As I read through this book I wondered when we would get to organized crime.  Didn't expect it from this direction, however.

Aki is the widow of a Tokyo mobster. One day, through the carelessness of the widowman who brings her her monthly allowance, she discovers that her murdered husband had had a  mistress.

The fact that she was angrier about the sex than she was about the death spoke volumes about her messed-up value system,  she knew that - it didn't mean she could do anything about it, other than pencil it in with her therapist.
A nicely structured story with plenty of surprises and suspense.

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.