A short story a day review

Month: April, 2012

The Best of Everything, Richard Yates, ELEVEN KINDS OF LONELINESS

by Patti Abbott

Sometime you forget how effortless reading can be when the writing is in expert hands. Richard Yates is such a writer. His stories are dark, unflinching looks at unhappy people–people much like himself sadly but he tells them so wonderfully, you don’t mind the angst.

Grace and Ralph are about to get married. At first we see the day before the wedding from her point of view: her best friend has warned her against marrying Ralph and she has doubts herself.  When we get to Ralph’s POV, we see he is a child-man who is incapable of being a good husband. He is dull and dreary.

At story’s end, it is clear they will marry and clear they will be miserable. This story was written in 1952.


Patti Abbott

“Condolence Call” by Frankie Y. Bailey

by kattomic

“Condolence Call” by Frankie Y. Bailey


Story 120/366

Frankie Bailey is a criminal justice professor who studies crime history and crime and mass media. Her mystery fiction explores social issues as well as crime. “Condolence Call” is told from the point of view of a cop who has killed a teenager. You will not expect the direction the story goes. You can read the story on her website. (The website also includes a recipes section for the dishes that accompany her about crime historian and professor Lizzie Stuart. They all look yummy.) The author’s photograph is by Alice P. Green, who also developed the recipes.

See you tomorrow!

Peconic Nightmare, R. Thomas Brown, BEAT TO A PULP

by Patti Abbott

A great little story that goes under a former cop’s skin. When he finds a grisly body, the rush of what is was like to solve a case like this one comes back to him-the good and the bad. And he is inexorably drawn into it, the idea of bringing the murderer down. Nice details here-both physical and psychological.

“The Things We Do For Love” by Jonathan Kellerman

by kattomic

“The Things We Do For Love” by Jonathan Kellerman


Story 119/366

This is a short story from multi-award-winning writer Kellerman, a love story and a tribute to mother love with some dodgy characters and a whiff of true danger. It actually goes on a bit too long, but the portrait of the mother is very nicely done. The story is available on mysterynet.com.

See you tomorrow!

“Frenchman Street Shotgun & Others” by Jose Torres-Tama

by kattomic

“Frenchman Street Shotgun & Others” by Jose Torres-Tama.


Story 118/366

Jose Torres-Tama refers to himself as a “brujo performance artist” with shows that are a fusion of spoken word, fire rituals, spectacle, poetry recitation and more. He’s based in New Orleans and his current show is called Cone of Uncertainty, New Orleans after Katrina.  He was there during the hurricane and its aftermath and you can download his essays about the experience here. This story originally appeared in Red Hours of Damage Inside Nocturnal New Orleans. I found it on the 3AM site. It’s a dysfunctional Latino love story told in a series of vignettes that drive us to the final, heated climax of the protagonists’ relationship.

See you tomorrow!

The Case of The Musical Butler by Martin Edwards

by Arun

Source: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories

Story Number: 108

This Sherlockian pastiche happens to be the only one in this collection which would qualify as a traditional detective story – a story which not only demonstrates Holmes’ skill as a puzzle solver but also gives a rear insight into an unexpectedly compassionate side to his personality!

Bloodstained clothes belonging to a tramp has been found recently near the Oaklands Estate and Holmes is not at all surprised when the owner of this property turns up on his doorstep. Holmes is hardly interested in hearing the grievance of Sir Greville Davidson (probably a first in the canon?) as he believes that even if a crime has been committed, Greville would be least interested in finding the perpetrator. He gives him only 5 minutes to state his case but the story from Greville indeed proves to be an interesting one, worthy enough to cure his ennui for the time being.

Greville has employed a young butler by the name of Mark Meade after getting a very positive reference from the folks who had employed him before. And the butler has lived up to his expectations in every way and he has some unusual talents – the chief one being his musical talent to play Chopin exquisitely on the piano! Other unusual traits turn out to be the butler’s keen interest in literature and his unwillingness to mingle with people or go out of the house during his day off!  His services have been so indispensable that the heirless Greville decides to adopt him and name him as his successor. But as soon he breaks this news to the butler, he disappears without a trace. A few days later, he gets a mail from the butler but that mail still doesn’t reveal the cause for his disappearance.

Holmes employs the Irregulars to get a few facts and his deductive capabilities are on full display as he goes about solving the case of the musical butler – with the final revelation of the identity of the butler coming as quite a pleasant surprise!

Bennigan’s Key by John M. Floyd

by Barb Goffman


From the Feb. – May 2012 issue of the Strand Magazine

A casino employee wins a spectacular vacation. But even paradise can’t save him from his neuroses.

The Habit of Silence by Ann Cleves

by Arun

Source: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories

Story Number: 107

The Literary and Philosophical Society Library is the setting for this murder mystery which features the author’s series detective Vera Stanhope. Gilbert Wood, who is researching and writing a book on the history of the place, is found dead in the Silence Room – death due to a blow on the head by a heavy book! The closed group of suspects is restricted to the librarian, library assistant, one of the trustees and a poet who found the body.

All of them saw Gilbert going down to the Silence Room but no one heard anything as the person who was with Gilbert wouldn’t obviously talk or make any noise because of the very nature of the habit of keeping silent in that particular room. With no clues forthcoming from any of the witnesses, Vera has to dig deep into her psyche and recall upon the trauma which she herself had faced when she was just twelve to solve this murder and identify the guilty party!

Boom! by Cath Staincliffe

by Arun

Source: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories

Story Number: 106

DC Lin Song and her boss decide to investigate the massive explosion as soon they get the site location. When they arrive at the half standing house, they find Greg Collins fighting for his life – from the impact of the blast as well as a gunshot wound. When he recovers, he isn’t able to recollect who shot at him. Greg’s wife, her lover and Greg’s business partner are the suspects but the lover pair seems to have disappeared. And the partner’s alibi isn’t holding up!

The body of the wife turns up in the river – dead due to drowning and the husband confirms that she couldn’t swim. Even before Lin and her boss are done with the guessing game of who(the lover or the husband’s partner) killed the wife and shot the husband, the lover’s dead body crops up in a car submerged in the canal basin, with a gun still clutched in his hand and dead due to a single gunshot from that same gun. With three different victims in three different locations and one suspect with a very poor alibi, Lin takes the help of the piled up forensic evidence to unravel the mystery behind the triple tragedy!

Best Eaten Cold by Stuart Pawson

by Arun

Source: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories

Story Number: 105

From the introduction: “Murder Squad is a group of crime writers, friends first met at meetings of the northern chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association and who decided to band together to promote their work. The squad was founded in the spring of 2000.” The members include Martin Edwards(who is also the editor of this anthology), Margaret Murphy(founder), Ann Cleeves, Stuart Pawson, Cath Stiancliffe and two others who have moved away from crime fiction. This collection is their second anthology, published 10 years after the first one. Halfway into the book, I’ve absolutely no hesitation in recommending this book to crime story aficionados.

Jessica Fullerton was known as the Queen of Short Story Writers and Artemesia is a writer who is struggling to get her stories published! Jessica’s stories are aired on the radio weekly and one such story turns out to be written by Artemesia. During the annual symposium event of short story writers, she starts dropping hints that her story was plagiarized by Jessica. 3 other unknown writers approach her and confess that they also had noticed something similar – a story written by them had been featured on the radio under Jessica’s byline. These 4 authors decide to meet at a later date and when they exchange notes, they realize that all of them had submitted their stories to a particular short story competition in which Jessica was the judge and she must have collected all the rejected entries and developed it as her own creations at a later stage!

They are unanimous in the decision that they should punish Jessica, though the punishment decided upon looks to be an extreme – murder! Each one of them decides to come up with their own means of a murder method and the next third of the book shows the hilarious approach of each of the 4 authors trying (finding a gun, finding a poison and administering it, making a bomb & finding a heavy weapon which could do a clean job) and failing in their mission to identify a foolproof method. In their next meeting, they rule out murder but instead come up with an ingenious way of pooling in their skills to mete out the apt punishment and what follows is brilliantly conceived and a memorable piece of storytelling!