A short story a day review

Category: Mystery

The Maltese Tater Tot by Pat Dennis

by Barb Goffman

300/366

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 If I read an unpublished story (I’m a co-editor of the Chesapeake Crimes anthology series), I didn’t write about it.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.

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Hotdish To Die For by Pat Dennis

by Barb Goffman

298/366

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.

Surprise Package by John L. French

by Barb Goffman

294/366

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

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

In the Chimney With Love by Gary R. Hoffman

by Barb Goffman

290/366

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

A thief has stolen some of the Christmas presents. All the expensive high-tech ones were left behind, fully wrapped. The police and family are stumped at how the thief knew which presents were which. And why the low-tech ones were the only ones stolen.

The Bells of Christmas by Carol A. Cole

by Barb Goffman

288/366

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

Sometimes solving a crime doesn’t involve looking for clues, but listening for them.

Noel by Margaret Fenton

by Barb Goffman

287/366

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

A story about a high-tech pickpocket.

The Santa Stickup by Guy Belleranti

by Barb Goffman

286/366

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

A guy dressed like Santa has robbed a jewelry store. Not to worry. Sheriff Peters is on the case.

Murder in Toddler Town by Rob Rosen

by Barb Goffman

283/366

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

We all know that Jack fell down went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. But why did he fall? Or, more to the point, who pushed him?

Whatever Happened to Sandy Kloss? by Suzanne Flaig

by Barb Goffman

273/366

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

A young, carefree woman disappears on Christmas Eve. When the police investigate, their only lead is hard to believe.

Christmas in Honolulu by Neil Plakcy

by Barb Goffman

272/366

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

A book buyer is found dead on a college campus. There are no good leads, until the detective gets a lucky break.