A short story a day review

Category: Crime

The Maltese Tater Tot by Pat Dennis

by Barb Goffman


From Pat Dennis’ collection Hotdish To Die For (Penury Press, 2000).

A rich, older man marries a much-younger woman and treasures her with gifts (and an allowance). Suddenly, her jewelry starts going missing, one piece at a time. The husband suspects the wife is up to something and hires a P.I. to figure things out.

And this review marks my end of this challenge. 300 stories officially read in 2012. When it started I hoped to actually read a story a day for a year. That was the exact challenge. That morphed into: Could I read 366 stories in the year, knowing that some days I might not get to read any, but on other days, I could read several? My goal kept changing as I had more non-short-story days than expected: First, 350 stories. Then 325. And now, finally, 300, which I think is a respectable finish.

I should add that I probably read nearly 350 short stories this year, but I didn’t write about them all, which was part of the challenge. If I hated a story, I may not have written about it. If I didn’t finish a story, I didn’t write about it. If I read an unpublished story (I’m a co-editor of the Chesapeake Crimes anthology series), I didn’t write about it. Knowing this makes me feel even better about my 300.

Because of this challenge, I read a lot of authors this year I had never read before, some of whom I’m particularly excited about and will seek out more of their work. These authors include Steve Liskow, Pat Dennis (her Puck stories are so good), David Dean, and Lynne Heitman.

This challenge also gave me the opportunity to read a lot more stories by John Floyd, one of my favorite short-story authors. If you haven’t read him yet, you’re  missing out.

Finally, having read more short stories this year than ever before, especially in such a concentrated period, enabled me to better understand what works in a story and what doesn’t (at least for me). I hope my own writing has improved as a result.

I’ve enjoyed sharing these pages with my fellow readers, especially Katherine Tomlinson and Patti Abbott, who both are on track to hit 366 stories by December 31st. Way to go, ladies! A hat tip to Brian Lindenmuth of Spinetingler for setting up this challenge last December. It’s been a pleasure.

The Lutheran Who Lusted by Pat Dennis

by Barb Goffman


From Pat Dennis’ collection Hotdish To Die For (Penury Press, 2000).

When a lusty Lutheran goes off her meds, again, her amorous intentions could prove fatal. Think Lucy Ricardo but far more dangerous.

“The Blue Danube Waltz” by Nigel Bird

by kattomic

nigel bird 365“The Blue Danube Waltz” by Nigel Bird


Story 361/366

This story appears in Nigel’s latest collection, The Shadows of Death. It’s a Christmas story of another kind, one that will have you counting your blessings.

Merry Christmas and see you tomorrow!

“Solomon’s Decision” by Sharan Newman

by kattomic

Sharan Newman“Soloman’s Decision” by Sharan Newman


Story 359/366

I really liked Newman’s historical novels. This story has terrific dialogue that persuades us the characters are very old friends. This story appears in Crime Through Time, an anthology Newman co-edited with Miriam Grace Monfredo.

See you tomorrow!

“The Lullaby Cheat” by Kate Ross

by kattomic

Kate Ross“The Lullaby Cheat” by Kate Ross


Story 358/366

Kate Ross was a trial lawyer who became a novelist and died at 41 from breast cancer. There’s a kind of Downton Abbey feel to the story of a disgraced nursemaid. The tale features Julian Kestrel, a dandy who was Ross’ favorite character. This story appears in Crime Through Time, an anthology edited by Miriam Grace Monfredo and Sharan Newman. (By the way, this anthology of historical mysteries is a bargain at $.01 plus postage on Amazon.)

See you tomorrow!

Hotdish To Die For by Pat Dennis

by Barb Goffman


From Pat Dennis’ collection Hotdish To Die For (Penury Press, 2000).

The narcissistic queen of a book club that never discusses books is murdered. Many suspects abound.

The Elder Hostile by Pat Dennis

by Barb Goffman


From Pat Dennis’ collection Hotdish To Die For (Penury Press, 2000).

Every week JP writes a  mean column in his senior-citizens complex’s newsletter, so it’s no surprise to him when someone tries to kill him. Again. JP sets off to find the attempted murderer and stumbles upon something quite unexpected.

Cabin Fever by Pat Dennis

by Barb Goffman


From Pat Dennis’ collection Hotdish To Die For (Penury Press, 2000).

Horrible father and son Pete and Jeff hate each other with a passion. Mix in Pete’s plans to sell Jeff’s weekend cabin out from under him,and you know things aren’t going to end well.

Death by Idaho by Pat Dennis

by Barb Goffman


From Pat Dennis’ collection Hotdish To Die For (Penury Press, 2000).

After thirty long years of marriage, Lars has had enough and plans to off his wife. But you know what happens to plans, don’t you?

Surprise Package by John L. French

by Barb Goffman


From the anthology By the Chimney With Care (Wolfmont Publishing, 2006).

Santa hires a P.I. to investigate the murder of an elf.