A short story a day review

Indiscreet Window by Luis Adrian Betancourt

by Barb Goffman


From the June 2011 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

A creepy man obsessed with a woman who apparently lives in the apartment building across the street begins watching and taking pictures of her. Then he sees/snaps pictures of her murder. But the police come and go, with no investigation. The stalker learns that the police found no body when they entered the apartment, and no body, they say, equals no crime, despite the photos. So the creepy stalker takes it upon himself to find out who the man is who killed the object of his obsession.


The Chatelaine Bag by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

by Barb Goffman


From the June 2011 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

This is a form of a historical locked-room mystery. Two detectives are hired to work as security at a museum exhibit featuring handbags, with one that had been owned by Marie Antoinette as the star of the show. During the show, the lights go out. When they come back on, Marie Antoinette’s handbag has been stolen. All the doors were locked so no one could have escaped with the bag. But all the people at the museum are searched and cleared, and a thorough search of the museum doesn’t yield the bag either. What happened? One of the detectives figures it out based on one important clue. (I spotted the clue the moment it appeared – before the handbag was stolen. Not sure if I just had a good eye this time or if the clue would be obvious to all or most readers.)

The P.I.’s Last Case by Andrew McQuilkin

by Barb Goffman


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

A modern day P.I. story is told in a 1950s (40s?) harboiled manner, with every woman who goes to see the P.I. by herself ending up making out – and more – with him. (The sex scenes aren’t really relevant to the review, but they made me roll my eyes.) A man has died and one by one, friends and family members, as well as some cops, come to see the P.I., some to urge him to investigate the death, others to warn him off. The P.I. spends the day talking to all these folks, then goes to his neighborhood bar where he pours out his troubles to the bartender, who figures out what happened nicely and neatly and makes clear that this investigator is past his prime.

Words Are Cheap, Ken Bruen, MURDALAND

by Patti Abbott

#133-A psychopath decides the way to win a woman he fancies is by getting himself an education. He does this by kidnapping professors and holding them captive. It eventually occurs to him it might be easier to kidnap the dame. Funny, scary, dark. Original as always.

A Singular Event at Undershaw by Susie Wilde

by Barb Goffman


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

Arthur Conan Doyle’s home is being renovated, but things begin to go awry when Sherlock Holmes and Bram Stoker possess the bodies of two people working at the house. There’s a vampire element to the tale that I won’t say more about because I wouldn’t want to ruin the story for anyone who might read it. A surprising, interesting story.

Bound by Maurine Dallas Watkins

by Barb Goffman


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

This story seems to have been set in a rural area in, I’m guessing, the early twentieth century. There wasn’t anything in the story to help me pinpoint the setting and timing any more than that.

A rich woman takes in an orphaned, deaf boy to work on her farm. He’s one of a few strays (for lack of a better word) who the woman gives room and board to in exchange for a lot of work. Ultimately two crimes occur at the farm. The story is told from the deaf boy’s point of view as he writes down what happened to the detectives working the case. The story has a nice twist at the end. Any more details would give too much away.

Fatal Twist by Alan Jacobson

by Barb Goffman


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

In this thriller short, an FBI profiler and her partner (he’s called a detective, so it doesn’t sound like he’s FBI – confusing) are tracking a serial killer in DC. We see a scene from the killer’s point of view. Then we start seeing scenes from an unrelated plot, two D.C. homicide detectives trying to prevent a sniper from killing a man who had been acquitted of a rape/murder. Then we see scenes from the sniper’s point of view. The stories twist and collide in unexpected ways. I liked it, but I think this story might have worked better as a novel.

“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu

by kattomic

“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu


Story 123/366

Liu has an incredibly eclectic background, having worked as both a lawyer and a programmer. (He says the two careers are remarkably similar.) “The Paper Menagerie” is a wonderful story about a mother, a son and magical origami.This story appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction in March 2011. You can read it on their archives here. The story was nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula. You can read other samples of his work on his blog.

See you tomorrow!