Murder on the Beach: A Destination Murders Short Story Anthology

This is a perfect summer read – short stories are the perfect thing for waits in the car, on a line, at an airport or yes – on the beach before you drift into a sun infused nap.  They are even perfect for lunch breaks at the office.  Have lunch, read a whole story.  Stories are kind of like poetry in that they can’t waste words, are, as the description tells the reader, short, and really must pack a punch and a memory into a short space of time.

These were all fun reads, all set on different beaches from the east coast to Cabo San Lucas (a yummy destination to read about in Eleanor Cawood Jones’ Cabo San Loco).  In keeping with the summer theme these were all on the lighter side, some of the stories not even involving a murder.  One of the most successful stories, A Tale of Two Sisters by Barb Goffman, has no murder, just some petty theft. read more

Gerald Elias: an eclectic anthology of 28 short mysteries to chill the warmest heart

One of my favorite book events of all time was one for Gerald Elias’ first Danial Jacobus mystery, Devil’s Trill (2009).  Elias, himself a violinist (at the time associate concertmaster for the Utah Symphony), brought what he referred to as his “fiddle” to the event, and gifted the audience with a short performance.  I’ve never forgotten it.

I was also a fan of the books, based on the odd-ish premise that a blind violinist could be a detective, his remaining senses sharpened by the lack of his eyesight, heightening his deductive reasoning abilities.  This is actually pretty classic Sherlock Holmes territory, the “Watson” being Daniel’s former musical partner and friend Nathaniel.  The mysteries, while utterly traditional, also gave the reader a bird’s eye view of the music world.  Jacobus lives in seclusion in the New England countryside but is drawn out to the city for different reasons. read more

Peter Lovesey: The Crime of Miss Oyster Brown

Peter Lovesey has written some of my very favorite detective novels – The False Inspector Dew(1982), Rough Cider (1986) and The Reaper (2000), not to mention his long and delightful Peter Diamond series.  One of the things Lovesey is the very absolute best at is simply plot.  In his novels, these can be longer and more complex affairs, but in this collection of short stories, the plots are deadly little masterpieces of wit and style.

Short stories are a tricky medium.  In a short span of pages, an author needs to draw the reader in, make them care about at least one person in the narrative, and tell a completely contained story, soup to nuts.  Lovesey’s elegant writing and humor serve him well, as story after story in this collection, reprinted here by the venerable Crippen & Landru, are both memorable and concise. read more