Friday, 17 July 2009
ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE – REVIEW – AUGUST 2009
An excellent collection of nine short stories, showcasing a variety of writing styles and talent. ‘Central Islin, USA’ by Lou Manfredo concerns retired cop Gus Oliver and the puzzling murder of a German immigrant in her bakery. There’s a very good reason why the story is set in 1959 – the flavour of that time is neatly captured too. Even though I guessed the culprit 7 pages in, I still enjoyed the story.
Kieran Shea’s dark tale ‘The Lifeguard Method’ is a modern story about a sort of private detective Charlie Byrne. He’s acting for the father of a kidnapped boy – but it isn’t what it seems. All about gratitude and the lack of it, with consequences. Another Shea story can be found in the online storyzine:
Intriguingly, there are a number of period pieces in this issue. Next up is ‘A Cabinet of Curiosities’ by Christine Poulson set in England at the time of the persecution of Roman Catholics. Interestingly, written in the present tense.
‘A Voice from the Past’ by Art Taylor concerns Evan and his connection with a guy from his past. Quite creepy, this, as the old boy from Evan’s school haunts his waking and dreaming moments.
‘The Shanty Drummer’ by Robert Lopresti is a moral tale about corporate business and ambition – or lack of it. The young black drummer of the title seems to be a metaphor for the fate of those who strive without thought of others.
The translated crime tale is ‘Snow on Bloedkoppie’ by Bernhard Jaumann. It’s set in the author’s home of Namibia and seems to possess elements of the supernatural – until the final twist.
‘Death will tie your kangaroo down’ by Elizabeth Zelvin starts out as an amusing encounter with an obnoxious yet perversely likeable (!) Australian drifter. Before the jokes at the expense of the Aussie can become tiresome, the guy is found murdered. The quest to locate the murder seemed a little rushed and lacking in drama but there were plenty of good lines along the way.
I started out thinking I wasn’t going to like ‘Fake Resumé’ by Jon L Breen as it appeared to be a lecture by two cops, Berwanger and Foley during a creative writing class. But the guys grow on you, as does their humour. Unusual.
Lastly, we travel to 1680 in ‘The Pirate’s Debt’ by Toni LP Kelner. It’s an epistolary story, written by a lawyer who has been abducted to plead the case of a murderer on a pirate ship.
A book review and also blog bytes by the busy scribe Bill Cryder complete the contents of these 112 pages. Check out the website too – www.themysteryplace.com.