From the group keeping mystery & crime stories in the public eye since 1996
Thursday, December 31, 2020
KRL: Saul and Mordecai: A Short Story by Gary Hoffman
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Bristol Noir Short Story: A Christmas Miracle by Jay Butkowski
SleuthSayers: Which Came First? The Title or the Egg? by Robert Lopresti
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
SMFS Member Publishing News: Gary Phillips
SMFS list member Gary Phillips’s new book, Matthew Henson and the Ice Temple of Harlem is out now. Published by Agora Books, the read is available in both print and eBook formats from the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors.
MATTHEW HENSON AND THE ICE TEMPLE OF HARLEM is the first in a new exciting retro rollicking adventure series. This re-imagined pulp novel follows the Doc Savage-style adventures of the first black man to reach the North Pole —Matthew Henson.
The tail end of the Roaring 20s. Harlem. Hired by controversial spiritual leader Daddy Paradise to retrieve his adult daughter who has been kidnapped, adventurer Matthew Henson does just that. Then he must safeguard the two until the firebrand can deliver a momentous speech at a mass rally. Henson must employ all his survival skills to fulfill his task—skills that kept him whole in forbidden jungles, across Asia, and in sub-zero ice storms when he first reached the North Pole.
Henson’s charge brings him face-to-face with such illustrious characters as gangster Dutch Schultz, who's looking to muscle out numbers racket boss Queenie St. Clair, and famed inventor Nikola Tesla who is using his electrical acumen to surveil plutocrats. Henson’s pal Bessie Coleman, America’s first black aviatrix lends a hand as well. With a death ray zeroing in on him, he races against the clock to save lives, and keep a mysterious and powerful meteor fragment he brought back from the Arctic years ago out of the hands of monied evil-doers.
Set against the intellectual, artistic and political firmament that was the Harlem Renaissance, THE ICE TEMPLE OF HARLEM re-imagines explorer Matthew Henson in the style of Doc Savage and Indiana Jones. The one the Inuit adopted as their own and considered the best example of those from the distant South.
Monday, December 28, 2020
Little Big Crimes Review: Clickbait by Mark R. Kehl
Sunday, December 27, 2020
SleuthSayers: A Weird Christmas Tale for Writers by R. T. Lawton
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Writers Who Kill: Covid Christmas Economics by Paula Gail Benson
Friday, December 25, 2020
The Sandy River Review: Room for an Hour by Bobby Mathews
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Maine Crime Writers: Deja Noel by John Clark
KRL: Aunt Tennie: A Short Story by Gary Hoffman
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
SMFS Member Publication News: John M. Floyd
SMFS list member John M. Floyd has another short story appearing in Woman’s World Magazine. His latest tale, ““The Christmas Getaway” is in the current issue (December 21, 2020) of Woman’s World Magazine. The publication is available on some newsstands and by subscription.
SleuthSayers: All We Want for Christmas is a Fair Shot by Michael Bracken
Little Big Crimes Review: The Mailman by Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Monday, December 21, 2020
SMFS Members Published in Down & Out The Magazine, Vol 2, Issue 2
Today is publication day for Down & Out The Magazine, Vol 2, Issue 2, and the new issue contains short stories by SMFS list members. The read is available from the publisher as well as at Amazon in print and eBook formats and at other vendors. The SMFS list members in this issue are:
John Floyd with “The Daisy Nelson Case.”
Josh Pachter with "The Stonewall Jackson Death Site."
There are a number of noteworthy articles in this issue of The Magazine.
We are fortunate to feature some of the correspondence between two legends of crime fiction, Walter Satterthwait and Bill Crider, both of whom recently passed away. For those who knew Walter and Bill, or were just fans of their work, there is a touch of their personalities that comes through in these exchanges and, at least for a moment, gives us an opportunity to experience their unique voices just a little bit, just one more time.
Jeff Vorzimmer, editor of last year’s The Best of Manhunt collection, tells us about Stephen Marlowe’s career in the piece leading into his story The Blonde at the Wheel. Jeff also contributed a story of his own and we’re happy to have this opportunity to showcase his many skills.
We also have a couple of repeat appearances by writers who have appeared in previous issues. Arthur Klepchukov is back, as is John M. Floyd and John Shepphird. And with original stories by veterans like Josh Pachter and James O. Born, and newer offerings by Michael Cahlin, Steven Nester and Ken Luer, we’re showing the art of the crime fiction short story is still going strong. May it ever be so.
All The Madness in My Soul: Well, I Did It by Frank Zafiro
Wicked Authors: The Murderer and the Author #giveaway by Edith Maxwell
SleuthSayers: Report to the Shareholders by Steve Liskow
Sunday, December 20, 2020
SMFS Members Published in Thriller Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 2
SMFS list members appear in the recently released, Thriller Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 2. Published by Thriller Magazine, the read is available in both print and eBook formats at Amazon. The SMFS members in the issue are:
Stephen J. Golds with “Fingers Through Dirt.”
Zakariah Johnson with "Canis Interruptus."
This issue features short stories that will leave readers on the edge of their seat. Showcasing a wide range of tales, everything from psychological thrillers, to brutal tales of murder, to political thrillers, and much more, this issue has it all!
Authors & poets included are:
Stephen J. Golds, Chris Fortunato, Michael Mallory, Fred Andersen, David Rachels, Zakariah Johnson, John H. Dromey, Joe Giordano, Eddie Fogler, Richard Risemberg, Nikkia Rivera, John Grey, Holly Day, & Brent Spencer
Saturday, December 19, 2020
SMFS Members Published in MASTHEAD: Best New England Crime Stories
Numerous SMFS list members have short stories in the new released anthology, MASTHEAD: Best New England Crime Stories. Published by Level Best Books, the read is available in print format. Edited by SMFS list member Harriet Sackler with Verna Rose and Shawn Reilly Simmons, the book is available at Amazon in print and eBook formats. The SMFS members in the book are:
Chris Chan with "How to Get Bloodstains Out of Leather Pants.”
R.M. Chastleton with “Gray Lady Noir.”
John Clark with “Eat Your Veggies.”
Patricia Dusenbury with “Shark Attack.”
Mary Dutta with “The Wonderworker.”
John Floyd with “A Business Dinner.”
Debra H. Goldstein “Forensic Magic.”
Maurissa Guibord with "The Executors.”
Margaret S. Hamilton with "Black Market Baby."
Steve Liskow with “Killer Bees.”
Michael Allan Mallory with “Blood Feud.”
Adam Meyer with “The Caretaker.”
Erica Obey with “The Haunting of Linonia & Brothers.”
Alan S. Orloff with “Other Arrangements.”
Olive Pollak with “In Walked Trouble.”
Tonya D. Price with “Risking It All.”
Michele Bazan Reed with “Sudden Death Overtime.”
Harriette Sackler with “Death of a Mill Girl.”
Cathi Stoler with “Blue Glass.”
Bev Vincent with “"The Lobster Trap.”
MASTHEAD is the eighteenth Best New England Crime Stories Anthology, which once again brings together the best short crime fiction stories with a New England theme. Included are stories from seasoned authors and brand new voices in the genre, with stories as varied and unique as the region they represent. Included in this collection is the Al Blanchard Award Winning Story "The Wonderworker" by Mary Dutta.
Stories by Shannon Brady - Marlin Bressi - Chris Chan - John Clark - Bruce Robert Coffin - Sharon Love Cook - Tina deBellegarde - Brendan DuBois - Patricia Dusenbury - Mary Dutta - Gerald Elias - John M. Floyd - Debra H. Goldstein - Judith Green - Maurissa Guibord - Margaret S. Hamilton - Steve Liskow - Michael Allan Mallory - Jason Marchi - Ruth McCarty - Adam Meyer - Jen Collins Moore - Lorraine Sharma Nelson - Erica Obey - Alan Orloff - Olive Polack - Tonya Price - Michele Bazan Reed - Pat Remick - Harriette Sackler - Lida Sideris - Shawn Reilly Simmons - Clea Simon - M.J. Soni - Toby Soriero - Cathi Stoler - Anne Marie Sutton - Larry Tyler - Bev Vincent - Cathy Wiley
Mystery Fanfare: CHRISTMAS MYSTERY SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGIES & NOVELLAS
SleuthSayers: The Second Time Around by John Floyd
Friday, December 18, 2020
SMFS Member Publishing News: Travis Richardson
SMFS list member Travis Richardson’s short story, “War Words” appears online today at Punk Noir Magazine. The story is online and can be read for free here.
Thursday, December 17, 2020
SMFS Members Published in Mystery Readers Journal: Irish Mysteries, Volume 36, No. 4, Winter 2020
Several SMFS members are published in the recently released Mystery Readers Journal: Irish Mysteries, Volume 36, No. 4, Winter 2020. The read is available in both hardcopy or a PDF at the website. The members in this issue are:
Art Taylor with “Study Abroad Leads to a Castle Adventure.”
Andrew Welsh-Huggins with "When Irish Eyes Are Dying."
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Real Ireland by Robin Castle
Murder in the Border Country: The Crime Novels of Anthony J. Quinn by David Clark
The Ireland We Believe We Own by Rona Bell
Dublin Crime from the ’50s to the 2000s by Peter Handel
Irish Mystery Writers of the Golden Age by Patricia Cook
The Orange and the Green by James Benn
Shadows of Guilt: Ireland in the 1950s by John Banville, aka Benjamin Black
How Ireland’s Mysteries Bedazzle the Historical Novel by Nancy Blanton
At Marks and Spencer by Flynn Berry
Irish Inspirations by Rhys Bowen
On Living and Writing in Ireland by Robin Castle
Kennedy, Starrett & McCusker… No, Not a Firm of Ulster Lawyers by Paul Charles
Routine Commercial Bombing, and Other Tales from Belfast by Anne Emery
My Wild Irish Prose by Carole Nelson Douglas
How Joining the Irish Infantry Inspired Me To Be an Author by Michelle Dunne
Secrets and Hidden Things by Tana French
Stories from Ireland’s Thin Places by Erin Hart
Serial Killer on a Small Island by Catherine Ryan Howard
Noir in Belfast by Adrian McKinty
Bonds to Ireland Can’t Be Broken by Catie Murphy
The 74% Irish in Me by Carlene O’Connor
Strange, Yet Familiar—My Ireland by Clare O’Donohue
Study Abroad Leads to a Castle Adventure by Art Taylor
Listening to Ireland by Sarah Stewart Taylor
When Irish Eyes Are Dying by Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine, D.R. Ransdell, L.J. Roberts, Craig Sisterson, Lucinda Surber
Just the Facts: The Case of the Vanishing Women by Jim Doherty
Children’s Hour: Irish Mysteries by Gay Toltl Kinman
In Short: Ireland by Marvin Lachman
Crime Seen: Green Screen by Kate Derie
Real Ireland Mysteries by Cathy Pickens
From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Something Is Going To Happen: “When Hesitation Knocks” (by Karen Harrington)
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
SMFS Member Publishing News: Bobby Mathews
SMFS list member Bobby Mathews has two short stories available to read online for free. His tale, “Quitman County Ambush” appears at the Bristol Noir. “Never Sees the Stars Again” appears at Flash Fiction Magazine.
SMFS Member Publication News: Claire A. Murray
SMFS list member Claire A. Murray’s short story “Lucky Seven” appears in the new anthology published today, Portraits of the Pen: A Collection of Short Stories. The book is available in audio, eBook, and print formats at the publisher.
City Limits Publishing Synopsis:
Portraits of the Pen: A Collection of Short Stories features over two dozen short stories that paint glorious portraits of the characters within. From stories of life lessons to romance, suspense to fantasy, be taken away to many worlds where rich characters tell stories of the every man, and every woman. Watch time pass and romance blossom in The Beach House. Journey to Chalcey in the thriller Foundling. Learn a valuable life lesson in Paxton’s Socks. Each piece has been hand picked and features layered stories that invoke strong senses and paint detailed pictures in the minds of the readers.
Shotgun Honey Flash Fiction: Fore! by Alan Orloff
TOUGH: The Ballad of John Rider, fiction by Jeff Esterholm
Little Big Crimes Review: Tell Him No by Scott Turow
SleuthSayers: Four New Stories, Three This Week, Two Out Today, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree by Barb Goffman
SMFS Members Published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine: January/February 2021
SMFS list members are published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine: January/February 2021 issue. The issue is available at the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors. The SMFS members in the issue are:
Barb Goffman with “That Poor Woman.”
Steve Hockensmith with “Curious Incidents.”
Karen Harrington with “Boo Radley College Prep.”
Josh Pachter with “The Five Orange Pipes.”
Jeff Soloway with “The Interpreter and the Killer.”
SMFS Members Published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine: January/February 2021
SMFS list members are published in the Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine: January/February 2021 issue. The issue is available at the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors. The SMFS members in the issue are:
Leslie Budewitz with “Coming Clean.”
Kevin Eagan with “Hard Money.”
Barb Goffman with “A Family Matter.”
R. T. Lawton with “A Helping Hand.”
O’Neil De Noux with “Ticking of the Big Clock.”
Monday, December 14, 2020
SMFS Members Published in Mickey Finn Volume 1: 21st Century Noir
This is publication day for the new book, Mickey Finn Volume 1: 21st Century Noir. Edited by SMFS list member Michael Bracken who also wrote the introduction, the anthology from Down & Out books features short stories from a number of SMFS list members. The read is available in eBook and print formats from the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors. The SMFS list members in the read are:
Michael Bracken with “Final Reunion” as well as the introduction to the book.
Barb Goffman with “Second Chance.”
James A. Hearn with “Hard Luck Case.”
David H. Hendrickson with “Sneaker Wave.”
Steve Liskow with “Kicks.”
Alan Orloff with “Rent Due.”
Josh Pachter with “Better Not Look Down.”
Bev Vincent with “Reflections of the Past.”
Joseph S. Walker with “Riptish Reds.”
Andrew Welsh-Huggins with “The Mailman.”
Stacy Woodson with “Killer Sushi.”
Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir is a crime-fiction cocktail that will knock readers into a literary stupor.
Contributors push hard against the boundaries of crime fiction, driving their work into places short crime fiction doesn't often go, into a world where the mean streets seem gentrified by comparison and happy endings are the exception rather than the rule. And they do all this in contemporary settings, bringing noir into the 21st century.
Like any good cocktail, Mickey Finn is a heady mix of ingredients that packs a punch, and when you've finished reading every story, you'll know that you've been "slipped a Mickey."
The twenty contributors, some of today's most respected short-story writers and new writers making their mark on the genre, include J.L. Abramo, Ann Aptaker, Trey R. Barker, Michael Bracken, Barb Goffman, David Hagerty, James A. Hearn, David H. Hendrickson, Jarrett Kaufman, Mark R. Kehl, Hugh Lessig, Steve Liskow, Alan Orloff, Josh Pachter, Steve Rasnic Tem, Mikal Trimm, Bev Vincent, Joseph S. Walker, Andrew Welsh-Huggins, and Stacy Woodson.
Sunday, December 13, 2020
SMFS Members Published in A Twist of a Knife: Stories From Pulphouse Fiction Magazine
Joslyn Chase with “Under the Blood-Red Maple.”
David H. Hendrickson with “Looking for the Bastard.”
O’Neil De Noux with “Don’t Make Me Take off My Sunglasses.”
Annie Reed with “The Geezer Squad.”
J. Steven York with “The Distant Baying of Hounds.”
Stories in Pulphouse Fiction Magazine cover all genres, from science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, and literature. And just about everything in between all of those. Editor Dean Wesley Smith looks for great stories that don’t fit, that just feel sort of different, but in a good way.
This volume contains ten great mysteries from all the mystery stories published in the first ten issues of Pulphouse. From old spies with attitude, to a heartbreaking tale of a grieving father, to an assortment of detectives including one hard-boiled with fancy sunglasses, one zombie, and a ghost, to a dramatic story behind a famous painting, these stories will entertain readers, make them laugh, and even touch their hearts.
“The Geezer Squad” by Annie Reed
“Don’t Make Me Take off My Sunglasses” by O’Neil De Noux
“Looking for the Bastard” by David H. Hendrickson
“Heartbreaker” by Kevin J. Anderson
“The Time Cop” by Patrick Alan Mammay
“Red Carnation” by Lee Allred
“Just Desserts” by R.W. Wallace
“Under the Blood-Red Maple” by Joslyn Chase
“The Distant Baying of Hounds” by J. Steven York
“The Case of the Vanishing Boy: A Spade/Paladin Conundrum” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
SMFS Members Published in The Book of Extraordinary New Sherlock Holmes Stories: The Best New Original Stores of the Genre
SMFS list members have short stories in the recently published anthology, The Book of Extraordinary New Sherlock Holmes Stories: The Best New Original Stores of the Genre. Published by Mango Publishing, the read is available in audio, eBook, and print formats at the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors. The SMFS list members in the book are:
O’Neil De Noux with “He Who Howls.”
Bev Vincent with “Bloody Sunday.”
Recognized as “the best short mystery and crime fiction of the year” by Leonard Carpenter, Maxim Jakubowski presents a collection of never before seen fiction short stories from some of the best mystery and thriller writers today.
Your favorite sleuths return. An icon of detective fiction, readers have come across Sherlock Holmes and his mythical stories of crime and adventure for generations. In this new short story anthology, literature reunites with the beloved British detective, his powers of deduction, and his unerring quest for the truth.
A cornucopia of British detectives, dark deeds, and derring-do. Collected by one of the genre's eminent editors, The Book of Extraordinary New Sherlock Holmes Stories features the timeless detective alongside favorite Sherlock Holmes characters, like Moriarty, Holmes, and Watson. Bringing together some of the most renowned American and British authors of crime today, this bumper volume of short stories for adults features:
Jon Courtenay Grimwood
David Stuart Davies
O'Neil De Noux
and Nick Sweet
If you’re looking for British historical mysteries, detective mystery books, or anthology bookss―or enjoy Anthony Horrowitz novels, The Complete Sherlock Holmes or The Best American Mystery Stories 2019―then you’ll love The Book of Extraordinary New Sherlock Holmes Stories.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
SleuthSayers: Inspiration Isn't Everywhere by Robert Mangeot
Friday, December 11, 2020
Writers Who Kill: Uncommon Gifts: A Christmas Story by K.M. Rockwood
SMFS Members Published in Rock and a Hard Place: Issue 4: Fall/Winter 2020
Several SMFS list members are published in the new issue of Rock and a Hard Place: Issue 4: Fall/Winter 2020. The read came out earlier this month and is available in both print and eBook formats at Amazon. The members in the issue are:
Jay Butkowski wrote the forward in his role as Managing Editor and has a photo in the issue.
Paul Garth is Associate Editor and has a story, “Red of Tooth and Claw” which was selected before he joined the editorial board.
Stephen J. Golds with "Hereafter."
Bruce Harris with “Drilling.”
Meeting cute in a home invasion can't end well.
Tell yourself dancing is dancing and just do it.
Sometimes the only thing you get to choose in life is how you check out.
Cue the meth gators.
Rock and a Hard Place is back with Issue 4, the downest and dirtiest chronicle of bad decisions and desperate people yet, with contributions from:
Jay Bechtol, Michael Chin, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Laura Dizon, Paul J. Garth, Dan Georgakas, Stephen J. Golds, Bruce Harris, Russell W. Johnson, Wilson Koewing, Diane Krauthamer, Susan Kuchinskas, Jeff Maschi, Jess Messier, Roger Nokes, Andrew Novak, Thomas Pluck, Richard Risemberg, Peter Rozovsky, Jason Mykl Snyman, Stefen Styrsky, N.B. Turner and Jane Young.
Rock and a Hard Place is the place for noir that goes beyond crime to a view of the world. Anywhere substance abuse, sex work, dead end jobs and hopeless scams are the obvious choice, you'll find our authors digging deep.
What are you waiting for?
SleuthSayers: The Selectively Social Writer by O'Neil De Noux
Thursday, December 10, 2020
One Writer's World: From Pantser to Plotter by Susan Oleksiw
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Something Is Going To Happen: “Crime Fiction and Twenty-First Century Policing” by Jeff Soloway
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
SMFS Member Publishing News: C. W. Blackwell
SMFS list member C. W. Blackwell’s short story, “The Shooting House” appears online at The Bristol Noir. You can read the story for free here.
Monday, December 7, 2020
SMFS Member Publishing News: David H. Hendrickson
SMFS list member David Hendrickson’s short story collection, The Boy in the Boxers and Other Stories of Sweet Romance, is out now. Published by Pentucket Publishing, the read contains short stories previously published in various issues of the Heart's Kiss Magazine, Pulphouse, and the Trouble with Heroes anthology. The read is available in eBook format at Amazon and other vendors.
From Boston’s Faneuil Hall to the sleepy suburbs…
From ancient Israel to “Lynn, Lynn, City of Sin.”
Award-winning master of romance D. H. Hendrickson
finds romance wherever he looks…
and these sweet tales prove it.
Pulp Modern Flash: THE ICE SHOVES by Jeff Esterholm
SleuthSayers: Historical Fiction (Or Not) by Steve Liskow
Sunday, December 6, 2020
SMFS Member Publishing News: Liz Pierce
SMFS list member Liz Pierce’s short story, “Of Cats and Lost Socks” appears in the recently released anthology, The Year of the Cat: A Cat of Heroic Heart. This seventh book in the series is published by WMG Publishing and is available in print and digital formats at the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors.
Little Big Crimes Review: Underneath it all Runs the River of Sadness by Oto Oltvanji
Saturday, December 5, 2020
KRL: The MacDonald Dilemma: Mystery Short Story by Herschel Cozine
SMFS Member Publishing News: Judy Penz Sheluk
SMFS list member Judy Penz Sheluk’s short story, “Saturday With Bronwyn” appears in the latest issue of the Dark & Stormy Book Club newsletter. You can read the story here for free after you scroll down past the ads.
SMFS Member Publishing News: BV Lawson
SleuthSayers: Locked Down and Writing by John Floyd
Thursday, December 3, 2020
SMFS Member Guest Post: HANDSHAKES & HUGS Or, What Would Agatha Do? by M. A. Monnin
Please welcome SMFS list member M. A. Monnin to the blog today…
HANDSHAKES & HUGS
Or, What Would Agatha Do?
By M. A. Monnin
Handshakes and hugs, or not? That’s the question on every writer’s mind these days, it seems. Specifically, as authors, do we include references to the pandemic in our writing, showing an authentic view of life as it is in 2020, or do we leave those references out, ready to put 2020 and all its difficulties behind us? The topic comes up often when writers gather these days—in io groups, writing chapter get-togethers, and even in group pitching sessions. There is a lot of anxiety about it: on the part of authors, as those that produce fiction, on the part of agents, who have to sell to publishers, and on the part of publishers, who have to sell to the reading public.
It’s hard to see friends and colleagues stressing over this, so I thought, why not check and see what the Golden Age mystery writers did? The world-wide Covid19 pandemic is new to us, but the world has been here before.
According to cdc.gov, the 1918 influenza pandemic spread worldwide during 1918-1919. An estimated 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected, with approximately 50 million deaths. Just like Covid19, with no vaccine, and also no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections associated with influenza, control efforts focused on isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings. Photos of people wearing masks, as well as those protesting masks from the time period have been circulating on Facebook and Twitter, showing that humanity has pretty much remained the same when it comes to wanting to wear a mask for the greater good.
Any writer published in the years 1919 and 1920 would have been painfully aware of the influence the pandemic had on daily life. But did they write about it in their fiction? Consulting my at-home library, since I can’t browse my local in person, I looked for books and short stories published in those years.
Agatha Christie’s first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. In the name of research, I reread it. For the fourth time. Christie makes not one mention of the flu pandemic. The setting of The Mysterious Affair at Styles is England in the grip of the Great War. Hastings, after all, has been invalided out, and goes to Styles to recuperate. Poirot is there as a result of the war also, and there are a dozen little details that relate to the changes made in everyday ordinary life due to the war. But not to the pandemic. Not one reference to “X” dying of the horrible ‘flu, no reference to sanitizing practices, no hated masks.
I read another mystery novel written from that time frame. Dope, by Sax Rohmer, was first published in 1919. Again, no mention of influenza. However, I was delighted that his heroine was described wearing a “creased Burberry.” Some styles are timeless.
Sax Romer’s short crime story “The Death-Ring of Sneferu” was published in Tales of Secret Egypt in 1918. No mention of the flu, or any pandemic influences. The same was true of Aldous Huxley’s “The Gioconda Smile.” Published in Mortal Coils in 1921, it’s a bit late for my research purposes, but it did feature a wife with a vague illness, giving it plenty of scope to pull in some recent practice involving infection or debilitating disease. But Huxley didn’t choose to. None of the stories, whether short or novel length, in my small, unscientific sample mentioned any habits, fears, or government protocols pertaining to the influenza pandemic, a world-wide phenomenon that killed 50 million people, had citizens wearing masks in public, and motivated people to protest. Why not?
It comes down to the single most important tenet of fiction writers, perhaps even more important for short mysteries than other genres. You’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it. When considering what to include in a story and what to leave out, we must ask ourselves: Does it move the story forward? If it doesn’t, it doesn’t go in.
In the mysteries I read as samples, the stories didn’t need that extra bit of setting and color to set the scene or provide motive. That’s not to say that there isn’t a plethora of stories published a hundred years ago that do include references to the influenza pandemic.
And for us, today? We will have habits that remain after the vaccines come out and we’re allowed to socialize normally again, and I do think that some of them will have a place in future fiction, if only because they’ll become second nature. Some lessons are learned bone deep. Although my mother had a lovely set of cannisters, and stacks of Tupperware, until her dying day, she washed and kept Planters cashew jars and empty Cool-Whip containers. Who knew when she might need more containers for leftovers or another cannister for that odd-shaped pasta? She was born during the Depression, and learned to keep things for a rainy day. That included money that could have been spent buying a second set of cannisters or Tupperware.
For us mystery writers, I can see that in some future tale, one of our characters might hide a valuable trinket or blackmail evidence behind that reserve pack of toilet paper he or she has stashed away on a basement shelf.
Come on now. I know I’m not the only one that will have reserve TP stashed away for the rest of my life.
M. A. Monnin ©2020
M. A. (Mary) Monnin's short mysteries have appeared in the Anthony Award-winning Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible and the pulp anthology All That Weird Jazz. Her latest story, St. Killian's Choice, will be out this month in Black Cat Mystery Magazine #8. She is a board member of the Midwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Crime Time: Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the ’60s
SMFS Member Podcast News: Josh Pachter
SMFS list member Josh Pachter reads the short story Christmas themed tale, “Beijingle All the Way” by Fei Wu. Mr. Pachter translated it for the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine: January/February 2020 issue earlier this year. You can listen to the tale here for free in this podcast.
Fei Wu is an author, translator, freelance editor, and literary agent who resides outside of Shanghai. He has played a key role in introducing Chinese readers to Golden Age detective fiction. Here, his suspenseful, unique, and clever Christmas tale "Beijingle All the Way" from our January/February 2020 issue is read by the translator of the story—and longtime contributor to EQMM—Josh Pachter.
SMFS Member Publishing News: Lauryn Christopher
SMFS list member Lauryn Christopher’s latest book, Memory Lane: A Short Story Collection is now out from Camden Park Press. The read is available at Amazon in eBook format.
A collection of short, historical fiction. Includes:
- Memory at Lascaux
With the world covered in ash and clouded in despair, there are only two choices: lie down in the ash, or find a way to survive. And perhaps, a way to thrive...
- Stolen Moments
In the long-ago days, when the Old Gods walked freely among the men of Midgard, Eirik Alreksson gained their attention and favor.
- El Tío Supay
On their way to work each day, the miners of Bolivia would routinely say prayers and pay homage to the statue of The Virgin Mary in its niche outside the mine, asking her blessing in their labors.But when they entered the mine, the miners made a second offering. There, beyond reach of the light of day, they left their gifts of coca leaves, alcohol, and cigarettes at the shrine of El Tío, the Devil of the Mine.
- Last Sigh of the Moor
There is a place, outside the walls of Granada, and in the shadow of the mighty Alhambra, where history tells us the city's last caliph turned and wept at the sight of his beautiful, lost city… and, perhaps, at the loss of the friend who betrayed her.
- The Unflattering Portrait of Jiang Zhaojun
The daughter of a merchant, and lady-in-waiting in the Emperor’s court, Jiang Zhaojun is recorded as one of the “Four Beauties of Ancient China.” But she is not celebrated merely for her beauty, but also for her bravery.
This story of the Old West illustrates the conflicts between a group of homesteading farmers and the local cattle ranchers.
Criminal Minds: Shifting Sands by Frank Zafiro
SleuthSayers: Once More, With Feeling by Michael Bracken
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
SMFS Member Publishing News: James W. Ziskin
SMFS list member James W. Ziskin’s short story, "The Twenty-Five-Year Engagement" appears in the new anthology, In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon. Published today by Pegasus Crime, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger, the read is available in audio, eBook, and print formats at the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors.
The latest entry in Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger’s popular Sherlock Holmes-inspired mystery series, featuring fifteen talented authors and a multitude of new cases for Arthur Conan Doyle’s most acclaimed detective.
Sherlock Holmes has not only captivated readers for more than a century and a quarter, he has fascinated writers as well. Almost immediately, the detective’s genius, mastery, and heroism became the standard by which other creators measured their creations, and the friendship between Holmes and Dr. Watson served as a brilliant model for those who followed Doyle. Not only did the Holmes tales influence the mystery genre but also tales of science-fiction, adventure, and the supernatural. It is little wonder, then, that when the renowned Sherlockians Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger invited their writer-friends and colleagues to be inspired by the Holmes canon, a cornucopia of stories sprang forth, with more than sixty of the greatest modern writers participating in four acclaimed anthologies.
Now, King and Klinger have invited another fifteen masters to become In League with Sherlock Holmes. The contributors to the pair’s next volume, due out in December 2020, include award-winning authors of horror, thrillers, mysteries, westerns, and science-fiction, all bound together in admiration and affection for the original stories. Past tales have spanned the Victorian era, World War I, World War II, the post-war era, and contemporary America and England. They have featured familiar figures from literature and history, children, master sleuths, official police, unassuming amateurs, unlikely protagonists, even ghosts and robots. Some were new tales about Holmes and Watson; others were about people from Holmes’s world or admirers of Holmes and his methods. The resulting stories are funny, haunting, thrilling, and surprising. All are unforgettable. The new collection promises more of the same!
SMFS Member Publishing News: Mark Troy
Today is publication day for Dos Tacos Guatemaltecos y Una Pistola Casera by Mark Troy. This is the concluding installment of Season Two of the Guns + Tacos series edited by Trey R. Barker and SMFS list member Michael Bracken. Published by Down & Out Books, the read is available at the publisher where there are numerous perks for subscribers, at Amazon, and elsewhere.
Three shadowy denizens of an online gaming chatroom—an undocumented refugee, a socially isolated teenager, and a sexual predator—make an abandoned Chicago stockyard run red with blood once again.
Getting off the bus from El Paso, Balam, the Mayan jaguar, arrives in South Chicago, hungry, broke, and cold, hoping to find MagcPanda, a girl he had befriended online. Balam believes MagcPanda has fallen prey to an online predator and has been trafficked to Chicago. His only link to her is a laptop stolen from a refugee shelter. Wandering the streets of the alien city, he is dismayed to find that Chicago is fraught with more dangers than any he had experienced in Guatemala or on the trek though the mountains and deserts of Mexico. When gangbangers take his laptop, destroying his hopes of rescuing MagicPanda, Balam is ready to admit defeat, only to get help from an unlikely source—the owner of a taco truck whose food is inedible, but whose “special” is sought after. Armed with the “special,” Balam resumes the hunt which terminates in the abandoned killing field.