Professor Van Dusen, also known as the Great Thinking Machine, unravels puzzles that would stump a lesser man.
The “Problem of Cell 13” is rather famous as an ingenious locked room mystery. The Professor is challenged by two colleagues to escape from a real prison cell within a week.
The other eleven stories in the Great Thinking Machine are rather a mixed bag. Perhaps more of interest to a historian or doctoral candidate than a modern mystery reader. However, the “Problem of Cell 13” is alone worth the price of the book to locked room mystery fans. 3 stars.
Thanks to Dover Publications and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Dec 18 2018, short stories
Loosely tied together by the theme of food, the sixteen stories contained in Take-Out vary from crime stories to humor.
While I enjoyed reading all the stories, my favorite was “The Gift of the Wiseguy”. It’s the story of a Mafioso’s son who writes a memoir. His father had ratted out his colleagues and entered witness protection twenty years earlier leaving his family behind. This story has crime, twists and pathos. The characters are well-defined with clear motivations. Due to its length, not a word is wasted. Many of the other stories are also great reads.
Take-out is highly recommended to thriller readers. 4 stars!
Thanks to Polis Books for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Literary Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Jan 25 2019, short stories
Wondering how to deal with an annoying baby brother? Think What Would Cleopatra Do? 18-year-old Cleopatra married her 12-year-old brother so she could rule Egypt. Once her subjects got used to the idea, she basically erased her brother’s name on all historical and legal documents and took all the power for herself.
While that example might be a bit extreme, this book has many good examples to share. Using the real life stories of fifty famous woman to illustrate maxims on how to deal with everyday issues is an outstanding idea. The issues vary from facing failure to not being hot to learning your worth.
What Would Cleopatra Do? is an empowering read for young girls especially pre-teens just beginning their life journey. The lessons taught here—of loving yourself and not letting barriers stop your dreams—are powerful messages. The method of using famous historic women to display these values is smart and entertaining. Most of the stories are short at around five pages. The book is recommended for young girls and others needing a boost in our tumultuous world. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Scribner, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: memoir, Nov 6 2018, short stories
SHOCK Anthology is a collection of 21 completely different stories from Aftershock Comics.
Fluctuating genres and art keep any one person from liking all the stories. However, there is something for everyone within: horror, sci-fi, memoir, adventure and some with apparently no plot at all. The new Neil Gaiman is great but too short!
SHOCK Anthology is recommended as a broad overview of the various genres, writing styles and art techniques. It will allow fans of a particular story to pursue additional longer-form work by the writer and/or artist. 3 stars.
Thanks to Aftershock Comics and NetGalley for a copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: #FrugalFridays, Apr 24 2018, short stories
Only Sherlock Holmes unites the unique and disparate tales within Baker Street Irregulars The Game is Afoot.
The 13 stories within this collection take wildly different approaches in their homages to Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock is a girl, a native American, a student, a teacher, a librarian, a rabbi and a comic book character. He lives on Earth or Jupiter’s moon, in Australia, in New York City, in the future, in ancient Egypt and on a spaceship.
The best first line has to be
“The first thing Watson noticed was that the victim’s eyeballs had exploded.”
from A Study in Space by Derek Beebe.
I also loved the Star Trek/Holmes mashup in My Dear Wa’ats by Hilda Silverman. The most creative story was The Adventures of the Diode Detective by Jody Lynn Nye. Sherlock is a personal assistant like Alexa or Siri. Also good was Sherlock as Santa in Ho Ho Holmes by Nat Gertler. This story has an excellent mystery and conclusion along with the unusual interpretation of the Holmes canon.
I enjoyed all the stories. Some were more kitchy than a serious mystery but I liked that too. This book is recommended for Sherlock Holmes lovers that can take a little playful ribbing. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Diversion Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Apr 24 2018, short stories
Eclectic mix of essays in Beyond the Map is sure to have something for everyone.
How unique islands are formed and claimed is described in Part I. Part II is about how some small nations and communities were developed. Part III describes utopias of religion, lifestyle, or technology. Part IV and V deal with haunted and hidden places respectively.
I thought that Parts I and II were rather dry and slow. Geology and politics are not my favorite subjects. However, I’m glad I kept reading because Beyond the Map’s later parts were really interesting. There is a succinct essay about ISIL that is marvelous. Several of the utopias are tourist attractions that I would love to visit. The haunted places of Part IV are more urban legends and ‘psychogeography’ than ghost stories. Still they are interesting short essays. Places hidden from Google Maps Street View, paper maps purposely printed incorrectly, secret caves and real undersea cities make up the final section of this book.
The author’s life sounds exciting. While some of the essays live up to that standard, unfortunately much of the book does not. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, University of Chicago Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Apr 23 2018, geography, Geology, short stories