The Big Book of Reel Murders is chockful of well-known authors like Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming, and W. Somerset Maugham. Even better, it has some of my favorite silver-age short story writers from 1950-1989 Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen mystery magazines like Cornell Woolrich and Stanley Ellin.
Stories are grouped by type: suspense, murder, thriller, horror, general crime, love (to death, of course), and detective fiction. There is literally something for everyone here. And then some. At 1200 pages, clearly this is a great value. However, you also get a curated collection of truly great stories. Many were made into iconic movies like Psycho and Witness for the Prosecution.
I can’t recommend this anthology highly enough. Here is your chance to read the source material for many of your favorite noir, mystery, and thriller movies. Some were better on the silver screen but many were not. It’s fun to see the changes. The Big Book of Reel Murders is extremely recommended for both mystery and movie fans. 5 stars!
Thanks to Vintage Crime, Black Lizard, Knopf Doubleday and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: movies, Oct 22 2019, short stories
Another great selection of eleven British golden-age mystery stories is found in the Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories.
From Blind Man’s Hood from the great John Dickson Carr to ‘Twist the Cup and the Lip by Julian Symons, many of the authors will be familiar to those who love golden-age mysteries. Even better, some are complete unknowns to a modern audience though they were famous in their day. The introductions to each story explain each author’s place in the universe as well as their most famous characters.
I love these British Library Crime Classics Christmas anthologies. The stories are excellent. All have some sort of a twist on the Christmas setting, either a ghost story of murder on Christmas Eve or a mysterious woman on a train with a trio of policemen who are heading to Christmas dinner. Each story has aged well with no blatant racism or sexism in sight. But I am sure that you, as do I, read these tales for the puzzles. The game is afoot, indeed, with some clever misdirection so famous in British golden-age plots.
Whether you want to get into the Christmas mood without all the saccharine carols, or as a perfect gift for the mystery fan in your life, the Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories will meet, and exceed, your expectations. 5 stars!
Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: British, Golden age mystery, Oct 1 2019, short stories
Talk about multi-tasking! Read a 500-page book in the time it takes to “use the facilities”, wait to be called in by your doctor, or get through the checkout line. John’s bathroom books are always a joy to read and Uncle John’s Truth, Trivia, and the Pursuit of Factiness Bathroom Reader is no exception.
What is the one food hated by Guy Fieri? Eggs! Why would anyone want to steal a 10-foot long inflatable colon, an ambulance, or a human toe? Because it was there. Why does your cat keep “gifting” you with dead birds and rodents? It’s trying to teach you to hunt. How about some restaurant secrets? Outback Steakhouse is as Australian as you are (assuming you aren’t Australian, of course). It’s a US company based on the Crocodile Dundee movies. The McRib sandwich’s meat is mainly pork tripe so why isn’t it an American hangover cure like menudo?
Uncle John’s Truth, Trivia, and the Pursuit of Factiness Bathroom Reader is really in a class by itself. Full of entertaining stories sized by how long you have to read, this book is a perfect way to fit more reading into your life. Plus you’ll have some interesting tidbits to share with your friends, family, and co-workers. 5 stars!
Thanks to Portable Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Sep 3 2019, short stories
Twenty-six short tales make up the Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven.
Ghosts and vampires are if course present in a compendium of horror tales. Surprisingly, there are also stories about thumb-suckers and a town where it really is raining men.
Of course, with any short story anthology, there will always be some stories you like, others you love, and a few which are just not for you. However, it is hard to imagine any horror fan that dislikes stories by Laird Barron and Joe Hill. Plus, all the stories are well-written and comprise the breadth of modern horror. Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven would make a great gift for any horror fan. 4 stars!
Thanks to Night Shade and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Horror, New Books Tagged with: Sep 3 2019, short stories
With 29 stories, 624 pages, and a recommended reading list, the Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 4 is definitely worth its $13.99 cost.
This collection includes the gamut of subgenres within the field. Hard science, soft space opera, spacemen, aliens, and robots populate these pages. I’m positive that each reader will love, like, and hate each of the stories but no two readers’ rating will be identical. They will also find some new authors to read along the journey. Most of tales can be read during a single fifteen minute break time. 4 stars!
Thanks to Night Shade and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: Jul 1 2019, short stories
Mystery, romance, mythology and pathos. It is all here in the Best Microfiction 2019.
In the time taken to watch another catheter ad on daytime tv, you could slip into a fully formed life. It may be the story of a dragon, a protective older brother, or a murder victim. Some of these super-short stories may linger for days while others quickly fade from memory. However, all 87 are worth the reader’s time. My personal favorites are the post-apocalyptic “You’ve Stopped” by Tommy Dean and the heartfelt “Any Body” by Sarah Freligh. The Best Microfiction 2019 deserves 4 stars!
Thanks to Petekinesis and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Literary Fiction, New Books Tagged with: Apr 17 2018, short stories
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 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 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