A short story a day review

Category: Thriller

The Covenant by Elaine Togneri

by Barb Goffman


From Crime Scene : New Jersey 3 (Clued In Press 2010)

Since she was a child, Emily had been drilled about the mission. How she might one day get the call, and she would have to risk everything to carry secret documents to Europe. She never really believed it would happen, until it did. And now she’s trying to make it to the plane, but she’s not safe. She can feel people seeking to steal her bag from her. There’s the man on the tram. And her friend who oh-so-helpfully shows up at the airport to help her with her bags. And the man who bumps into her at Security. Does she make it to the plane with the documents? And what is the mission really about?

This was a nice little thriller. A good read.

Put Me In Coach by Kathleen Dopart

by Barb Goffman


From Crime Scene New Jersey 3 (Clued In Press 2010)

This story is told in the form of a letter. The letter-writer is telling a friend about an incident that occurred the prior year, which resulted in the letter-writer fleeing the country. The story that proceeds from there is like a TV action movie, in which a woman at a bar picks up the wrong purse, which has a gun and drugs in it, and then the bad guys start chasing the woman and her brother.

The telling of this story from a distance – we know at the start that the letter-writer comes out of the situation alive and well and with a sarcastic sense of humor about the whole thing – lessens the tension and impact of the drama. It might have been better to just show the story unfolding as it happened.

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.

A Penny for the Boatman by Doug Allyn

by Barb Goffman

From the March/April 2011 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine


A hotshot, narcissistic FBI agent wants to bring in the daughter of an international arms dealer, and he’s willing to do anything, hurt anyone, break any law, to do it. The story is told in multiple points of view, including the sought-after daughter, the sailboat maker she comes to care for, and the sailboat maker’s grandfather. The story includes intentional injury to a dog – beware if that will bother you.

This story is a finalist for this year’s Derringer Award in the Novelette category.

Blue Amber by William Burton McCormick

by Barb Goffman

From the June 2011 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.


A political prisoner in 1910 Latvia is sure that his time is up, and he’ll do anything to avoid being executed.

This story is a finalist for this year’s Derringer Award in the long-story category.

Ballistic by Trey Dowell

by Barb Goffman

Individual short story published by Untreed Reads in July 2011.

Read on March 24, 2012.


What happens when someone takes out a hit on a hit man? This story takes us into the mind of a man who knows all about killing at the moment he’s trying like hell to avoid being the next victim. A true thriller short story.

This story is a finalist for this year’s Derringer Award in the long-story category.

“Survivor” by Kelli Stanley

by kattomic

“Survivor” by Kelli Stanley


Story 81/366

I’ve read and enjoyed other short stories by Kelli Stanley, and I have all her novels. I’m a big admirer of both her series, especially her Roman Noirs.  So I’m a fan. But this story really grabbed me. There’s a rough justice at work here and … I cheered it. Sometimes, you just have to think outside the box when you’re dealing with people who don’t get it. The story appears in the anthology Scoundrels, but Criminal Element is hosting it free here.

See you tomorrow!

The Gap by Mikal Trimm

by Barb Goffman

32/366 from the December 2011 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

This is a first-person tale about a man who has been in a car accident in the snowy mountains and is walking, walking, walking to try to find a way out of the canyon his car flew into. It’s not easy since he appears to have a concussion and probably hypothermia and isn’t thinking too clearly. Something keeps niggling the back of his brain. Will he remember what it is? And does it matter? (Duh, of course it does.)

This is a pure suspense tale. Strong description and internal monologue. Of course, at the end, I wanted to smack this guy for making a doofus decision — he obviously still wasn’t thinking clearly.


Den of Iniquity by Lori A. Lake

by Barb Goffman

17/366 from the anthology Once Upon A Crime edited by Gary R. Bush and Chris Everheart (Nodin Press 2009)

This is the story of a woman who finds the man who molested her as a child and cooks up some revenge. It was a good story with some well-written suspense, though I was hoping for a stronger twist at the end.