Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Jewish noir. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Jewish noir. Sort by date Show all posts

13 October 2015

JEWISH NOIR: The Interview




Editor Kenneth Wishnia gathered 33 stories together in what Booklist called “a first-rate collection of short stories dealing with traditional noir subject matter and tone but offering Jewish variations on the theme.”

As one of the contributors, I’m offering a look under the hood. First, an interview with the editor, and then a group interview with over a third of the authors. Buckle up!

Michele Lang, Ken Wishnia & Melissa Yi at the Mysterious Bookshop

Q: Say something Jewish.
Ken Wishnia: You call that a question? What kind of question is that?

Q: Say something Noir. 
Ken Wishnia: Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Oh, sorry. That’s horror. You said noir.

Q: What made you decide the world needed a Jewish Noir anthology?
Ken Wishnia: The JEWISH NOIR anthology was originally Reed Farrel Coleman’s idea, and we agreed to co-edit it. Then he signed a contract to do the next three Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone novels, and had to drop out. So I ended up being the sole editor. 

Q: Give me a few words about your story. 
Ken Wishnia: It’s based on my parents’ experiences in the late 1940s when they were the first in their families to go to college, and these were exclusive colleges, which also meant being among the first Jews in those traditionally WASP enclaves. They came from Brooklyn, from working-class immigrant families that had just survived the Depression and WWII, so as you can imagine, much tension ensues. 

Q: Tell me about the trials and tribulations and joys and sorrows in birthing this book. Aw, come on. Tell me.
Ken Wishnia: OK, first we queried everyone in sight. Then we got commitments from some very big names. Then we pitched the anthology to a number of publishers using those names, and when they all turned us down, we went with PM Press, who have been fabulous to work with. Then the big names dropped out. So I went outside the box, inviting a number of unorthodox writers (in both senses) to contribute stories. Then some of those writers tried to drop out, claiming they really weren’t “noir” writers, and I had to do a lot of emailing back-and-forth to convince them that their stories were sufficiently noir for our purposes. The result is a very strong anthology, with very few of the “usual suspects” in it. 

Q: How did you choose the stories?
Ken Wishnia: I went after certain names, but there was also a lot of serendipity involved. I met three of the contributors at NoirCon and invited them to submit because… well… because they were at freaking NoirCon, for God’s sake. Isn’t that enough? Jedidiah Ayres cracked me up just with his bio, then his reading was so outrageous that I just had to ask him to be one of our “you don’t have to be Jewish to write Jewish Noir” contributors. Check out his story, “Twisted Shikse,” and I’m sure it’ll make you a fan of his work. Or something. And I met a couple more contributors at Bloody Words in Toronto, as you may recall. So I hope that these authors view their inclusion in JEWISH NOIR as the result of being in “the right place at the right time,” ‘cuz it’s true.

Q: How did you arrange the stories?
Ken Wishnia: My original plan was to arrange the stories in chronologically in order of when they took place, because I figured we’d get a lot of historical pieces (ancient Israel, medieval Europe, 19th century Europe, etc.), but of the 30 original stories in the anthology, the earliest period depicted is the 1940s; five of the stories take place in this decade, and all the others in the decades since then. So I went with themes. Very broad themes….

Q: Is there anything you would have done differently?
Ken Wishnia: I was supposed to be discovered by a rich benefactor and get a six-figure advance, but I just never quite got around to it.

Q. I can't believe how many book launches you're having across the United States. How did you manage that?
Ken Wishnia: In fact, JEWISH NOIR, for whatever reason, is getting more attention than anything I’ve done in years. I’m also spending a f*ckload of money on publicity, but so far the thing itself is driving most of the interest. So clearly we’re filling a niche that we didn’t know existed (well, Reed Coleman knew it) and there’s simply no way to plan for that.

Q: Israel.
Ken Wishnia: Isra-- what? Sorry, never heard of it.

But seriously folks, the one story in JEWISH NOIR that takes place in Israel is “Good Morning Jerusalem 1948,” written by Michael J. Cooper, who, as his bio tells us, is a pediatric cardiologist who frequently travels “to Israel and the West Bank to volunteer his services to children who lack adequate access to care,” which gives him the authority to say anything he wants as far as I’m concerned.


Now let’s talk to the contributors! Harlan Ellison couldn’t make it, but I’m sure he wanted to.



1. Say something Jewish.

Moe Prager/Reed Farrel Coleman and BK Stevens: Oy vey iz mir.

Steven Wishnia: Oy vey. Gey kakken oyfn yam. If I sold coffins, nobody would die.

Wendy Hornsby: Oy. Such a versatile word. Cleaner than the French merde, and applicable to as many situations.

Melissa Yi: Sydney Taylor, Johanna Reiss, and Art Spiegelman.
Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind-Family series first introduced me to Judaism. I remember feeling smug that other people in my third grade class were like, “What’s Chanukah?” and I could’ve told them about dreidels. When my family moved to Germany, one of my favourite books was The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss. And who can forget Spiegelman’s Maus I & II?

Adam D. Fisher: The Jewish people is the eternal people that is always dying.

M. Dante: Baruch Dayan Emet.

Robert Lopresti: “We have to believe in free will.  We have no choice.”—I.B. Singer

Alan Gordon: A long time ago, in a tiny village in the Carpathian Mountains ...

S.A. Solomon: The Jewish Noir launch party at the Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan conclusively established that NYC has the best bagels on the planet.

Heywood Gould: Pupik.

SJ Rozan: You can't ride two horses with one behind.

Michael J. Cooper: His luck should be as bright as a new moon. (ie. – no moon)
Zayn mazl zol im layhtn vi di levone in sof khoydesh.
This is, perhaps the dark side of one of my favorite passages from the Psalms (139:12);
Night shines like the day and darkness is as light.

Dave Zeltserman: I first was going to provide a smartass response, such as simply oy vey or matzah balls. Next I considered writing about arguments I used to have with my dad about whether certain ballplayers were Jewish or not or my affinity to the Three Stooges, which was no small part due to my granny (who was the last person you’d expect to know about the Three Stooges) proudly telling me how they came from the same part of Russia as she did. Finally, though, I decided to write about how I and every other Jewish person I’ve known wear our emotions so heavily on our sleeves. When we’re pissed, you know it. When we’re miserable you know it. The rare times we’re happy, you know it. When I was I was in college back in the late 70s and early 80s, I had a Navy ROTC scholarship, and I was miserable. Given the record amount of times I was written up for my uniform not being right and all my other infractions, no doubt the officers and other kids in the program equally knew it. You had until the end of your sophomore year before you had to commit, and I tried for 2 years to talk myself into sticking with it, but I was a computer science major, and all I wanted to do when I graduated college was design and write software, and the last thing I wanted to do was spend four years on a ship. When I dropped out of ROTC at the end of my sophomore year, it was no surprise to anyone. What did surprise me, though, was that this kid who was Mr. ROTC also dropped out the same day. This kid always appeared to be so gung ho, his uniform always perfect, and he was considered the top in the program as far as future officer material. I’d never really talked with him before, but  that day we ended up having a few beers together, and he told how miserable he’d been in the program. He completely fooled me and everyone else, while I fooled no one.

2. Say something Noir.

Alan Gordon: In my recurring dream, I'm in the electric chair. Right before they pull the switch, the guard asks, "Would you mind? It's for the Warden." And he places on my lap a container of Jiffy Pop.

BK Stevens: Oy vey iz meir!
M. Dante: David Goodis

Michael J. CooperIf you don’t want to grow old, hang yourself when you’re young.
As men vil nit alt vern, zol men zikh yungerheyt oyfhengen.

Melissa Yi: ’What is to give light must endure burning.'—Victor Frankl

Steven Wishnia
I'll quote two other people.--"We're all fucked. What did we have kids for? To make more customers for Guinness?" —my friend English Steve Harrington, during a rather alcohol-fueled discussion of global warming. 
--"Hudson County is a great place to work for a newspaper. Our politicians aren't sophisticated yet: They still take money in brown paper bags. They could steal half the county and people wouldn't care, but if their cable TV goes out for five minutes, they'll scream." —the late Stuart Rose, the editor who hired me at the Hudson Dispatch in northern New Jersey in 1990.

SJ Rozan: But you can't help trying [to ride two horses].

Robert Lopresti: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde

S.A. Solomon: A mystery man in a trench coat made off with the bag of bagels ... along with a serrated knife. What bloody deeds will play out on the rainswept streets of Manhattan? You say it was editor Ken Wishnia? Oy. Some people will do anything for leftovers. (Thanks, Ken, for the awesome spread!)

Dave Zeltserman: I fell in love with noir when I first read Double Indemnity by James M. Cain, if you can equate being dragged into a character’s personal hell with literary love. This love affair only grew stronger when I later discovered Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, Dan Marlowe, Cornell Woolrich, and many other noir writers. There’s something so primal and raw about this kind of literary noir that is hard to find in any other fiction.

3. How did you end up in Jewish Noir?


Moe Prager/Reed Farrel ColemanLong story short. Ken and I were supposed to be co-editors, but I got really frustrated at the inexplicable lack of interest in the project from publishers. Then I landed the gig writing Jesse Stone novels for the Estate of Robert B. Parker. I gave Ken my blessing to carry on alone if he wished as long as I could still be a contributor. That this project came to fruition is all to Ken’s credit. He would not be deterred.

Alan GordonGood Karma. I got Ken Wishnia into Queens Noir.

Steven WishniaWell, I'm Ken's older brother. He told me he was doing it, so I sent him the story. We have a good enough relationship so that he would have told me if it was a piece of crap.

SJ Rozan: I wasn't looking where I was going.

Robert Lopresti: My wife, who is Jewish, attended the Jewish Noir panel at Bouchercon last year.  Afterwards she asked Ken Wishnia if there were any openings (a few) and whether the authors need to be Jewish (no).  So I wrote fast.

4. Give me a few words about your story.


Moe Prager/Reed Farrel Coleman, “Feeding the Crocodile”: Easy. It is said that you feed the crocodile in the hope that he will eat you last. Think of that phrase in terms of a death camp.
Steven Wishnia, "The Sacrifice of Isaac": A tale of money, power, real estate, and race set in 1990s Brooklyn, it begins with a klezmer wedding-band bassist buying cocaine from the son of a politically connected Hasidic real-estate developer in the back room of a catering hall in Williamsburg.

SJ Rozan, “The Flowers of Shanghai”: Shanghai Ghetto, rain, cold.  Oppression, resistance, flowers.

Wendy Hornsby, “The Legacy”: Ultimately it’s about love, death, and redemption, but aren’t all noir stories?  A young woman risks her life to retrieve a family legacy, because her bubbe asked her to.

S.A. Solomon, "Silver Alert”: My story was inspired by a bit of family history: my father served as a B-17 bomber pilot in WWII, and was present at the liberation of Dachau. But the story itself is fiction.

B.K. Stevens, “Living Underwater": The central character is an English professor who becomes consumed by hatred for an administrator who is ruining his professional life. Although he knows his obsession with the Associate Dean for Academic Assessment cannot end well, the professor is incapable of breaking free. As a longtime English professor (and as the wife of a dean), I know how poisonous the pressures, frustrations, and silliness of the accreditation process can be.

Heywood Gould, “Everything Is Bashert: It's about horses, hustlers and Hasidim.

Melissa Yi, “Blood Diamonds”: Kris Rusch challenged us to write a historical short mystery, with bonus points if we wrote about a crime that was no longer a crime. I decided to add in my experience as a medical resident doctor at the Jewish Hospital in Montreal, but from the point of view of a patient. And it’s the first time my crime-fighting doctor, Hope Sze, makes an appearance in short fiction. Very exciting!

Alan Gordon, “The Drop”: Thinking about Jewish-based crime in Queens, I set my story in the world of Israeli connections in the club drug scene.

Michael Cooper, “Good Morning, Jerusalem 1948”: The story features Yitzhak Rabin as the 26-year-old commander of an elite strike force during Israel’s War of Independence. Rabin’s concerns range from the crushing heaviness of an impending military loss to the lightness of a new-found love, and the temptation of a mysterious and alluring female prisoner. And as Rabin struggles with all this, there is the forming but still very subtle specter of his future assassination – at the hands of his own people.

Robert Lopresti, “Nachshon”: Inspired by a midrash, which also inspired one of my most popular songs.

Dave Zeltserman, “Something’s Not Right”: I’ve written several of what I like to call ‘bogusly autobiographical life in writer’s hell stories’, which are noir stories where I include just enough superficial autobiographical stuff to get relatives and friends of mine nervous, and end up having my writer-protagonist on a one-way ticket to hell. With my Jewish Noir story, I did this at a far more extreme level where I’ve made my protagonist closer to myself than I’d done in any of these previous stories, and I left him nameless. What I’ve tried to accomplish with this story is leave the reader unsure whether what they’ve read was fiction or something else, at least for a few moments.

Adam D. Fisher, “Her Daughter’s Bat Mitzvah: A Mother Talks to the Rabbi”: Read it. It isn’t long. It is full of both pathos and humor and is a combination of people who came to see me and my own imagination.

M. Dante, "Baruch Dayan Emet": A funeral view offers generational and lifestyle reflection.


5. How was your experience with Jewish Noir?

Melissa Yi: Unbelievable. Honestly, I’m astonished that contributors have or will appear in New York, Raleigh’s Bouchercon, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Houston, and Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. I mean, who does that for an anthology? Is there really a Jewish mafia, because if so, right on!

SJ Rozan: Except for my story depressing the hell out of myself, it was great.

M. Dante: Is it already over? WoW. I feel like I missed it. It went so fast.

Robert Lopresti: It makes me feel guilty (something those of us raised Catholic have in common with Jews) because 1) I am not a member of the tribe, and 2) my story only has two-thirds of the classic noir formula.  But, as they say, I cashed the check.

Dave Zeltserman: This has been unlike any other anthology I’ve been part of in the way a community has formed around it. I’ve never been part of an anthology where there’s been so much communication among the authors. Of course, this is all because of Ken, and I’ve really enjoyed this aspect of it.

Heywood Gould: Don't ask...Seriously, Ken's been an astute, helpful editor and I'm happy to be in solidarity with my "luntzmann." (Compatriots.) 

BK Stevens: It was great. I don't usually think of myself as a noir writer, so making a conscious effort to write a noir story was an interesting challenge. I also enjoyed working with Ken. He suggested some changes in the ending, I made them, and I think they improved the story. And I'm enjoying getting to know the other authors better, both through the e-mail blasts and through the guest posts a number of them are writing for my blog, The First Two Pages. All in all, it's been a decidedly un-noir experience--fun, satisfying, and friendly.

Wendy Hornsby: I’ve contributed short stories to lots of anthologies, but I’ve never before experienced the gung-ho support the contributors have given this collection. It’s been fun so far, and I’m certain that when we all get together at book events after the October release date that general hilarity will ensue. It’s a great collection of stories by an interesting and diverse assemblage of authors.

Moe Prager/Reed Farrel Coleman: Dark.


Michael J. Cooper: And herein lies the redeeming silver-lining of a Jewish history filled with the darkness of dislocation, diaspora and death; all of us, Jews and non-Jews alike, have the opportunity and responsibility of rectification, tikun, of partnering with the divine and with each other—dispelling darkness by gathering the bright sparks of divine emanation through acts of compassion, justice and loving-kindness.


26 January 2016

Left Coast Criminals

by Melissa Yi

Hey, I'm heading out for the second mystery convention of my life, Left Coast Crime! Whatever shall I do? Especially if I want to save money?


Well, I’ve got three travel tips for you budget-conscious sleuths already.

1.     Register early. You knew this. I blew that one, waffling about whether or not I would attend. So, late registration for me. $275 U.S. at a time when the Canadian dollar is plunging. Luckily, I had enough USD to cover it.

2.     Google your flight.
 I used a lot of different flight sites, but I found them frustrating. A lot of them want you to choose both departing and return flights together, without offering good options (one gave me a 13 hour layover. Are you kidding me?).
For example, I’m appearing at the PoisonedPen Bookshop's International Fiction Night featuring Jewish Noir night at 6:30, so I have to arrive in time on February 24th. And flying back to Montreal on a Sunday is not a popular option. Only Google let me choose arrival and departure times for both flights, sifting impartially through different airlines.

3.     Airbnb
I’ve almost always had a good, and occasionally above-and-beyond experiences through airbnb, where you stay in someone's home. Although of course staying at the hotel is a swanky and convenient experience, I like meeting people, and sometimes they offer me food! Plus, what the heck. If you sign up with this link, we both get a few bucks off: https://www.airbnb.ca/c/myuaninnes?s=4&i=1

Now you're going to ask me, why go to a con?
1.     You could sell a book, like Michael J. Cooper sold The Rabbi’s Knight.
Michele Lang, Michael J. Cooper, and Melissa Yi. Yes, that's Jewish Noir instead of The Rabbi's Knight. Collect 'em all!
 2.     You could hook new readers. I live in rural Ontario. I can pretty much guarantee that no one in Phoenix has ever seen one of my books, let alone bought one.
3.     You could make friends. Travis Richardson told me a lot of writers hang out by the bar. He’s bringing his whole family!
4.     You could sell a short story or two. Hey, that's how I got into Jewish Noir.
5.     You could get some story ideas. I feel creatively listless right now. Maybe a con will help.
6.     It’s a vacation. I don’t remember ever going to Phoenix. My parents did drag me on a cross-continental trip to California one summer when I was little, so it’s possible I did go and don’t remember it except as a blur from the back of a van.
7.     Fanboy and girl squees. For me, this translates to “Dana Stabenow will be there!” I'll also be on a panel with Chantelle Aimee, Fan Guest of Honor (uh huh. Can't say anything more than that).
8.   Kenneth Wishnia told you to.

 
Why NOT go to a con?
1.     No time
2.     No money
3.     No interest
4.     Guilt
For me, it’s number four. I feel like I shouldn’t spend money on my writing. I should just slave over my laptop, ratcheting up my word count, sending out my stories, and get magically discovered by readers while I continue to work, work, work. I could be helping patients in the emergency room. I could be getting my kids on or off the school bus. Plus, I try not to travel because of carbon emissions.

Other people don’t feel this guilty. Theoretically, I’m allowed to have a vacation. My hair stylist, Christina Peeters, said simply, “I work hard. I deserve it.” Kris Rusch talks about how essential it is for writers to do continuing education. And the money’s mostly already spent.

Soooooooo…what about you? Do you go to cons?
And if you’re going to this one, see you at Left Coast Crime!

 

20 January 2016

Nothin' But The Best


by Robert Lopresti

As part of my tireless effort to make the world a better place I am once again listing all the best short mysteries of the year, thereby saving all the other award judges from a lot of tedious reading.  (Well, they could add these to their assigned list. I wouldn't mind.)

I recommend that all those judges take the time they save and do something good for society.  I would help, but I have to start reading next year's stories.

This is the seventh time I have made an annual list.  By coincidence, there were 14 stories on last year's list, and the same number this time.

The big winner this year was Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, with four stories.  Tied with two each are Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Strand Magazine, Thuglit, and the Jewish Noir anthology.

Nine stories are by men; five by women.  (That's one more female winner than last year.)  Four are historical, four are funny, two are parody/pastiches.

Okay.  Drum roll, please...

Camilleri, Andrea.  "Neck and Neck,"  in The Strand Magazine," October 2015-January 2016.

Montalbano,  Camilleri's series character, is appointed Chief Inspector in a village in Sicily, and discovers that a Mafia family feud is well under well.  A member of the Cuffaros is snuffed out with an old-fashioned shotgun, and then one of the Sinagras dies the same way.

But then something highly irregular happens.  Two members of the same family are killed in a row.  How unseemly!  And Montalbano spots a way into the maze of silence...

Faherty, Terence.  "The Man With The Twisted Lip," in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, February 2015.

My former co-blogger Terence Faherty is making his third appearance on my annual best of list.  Only three other  authors have scored that many times.

Faherty claims to have discovered Dr. John Watson's notebooks, containing the rough drafts of Sherlock Holmes adventures, before they were "cleaned up for publication."  This is the fourth in his series.

Both versions begin with a woman calling at the home of Watson and his wife, desperate because her husband has disappeared.  In Doyle's version the man is a drug addict and has vanished into an opium den.  In Faherty's tale the same man is a serial philanderer and is apparently staying in a hotel of bad repute. 

"My husband returns!" Rita exclaimed.
"Not a moment too soon," Holmes said.
"You don't understand.  He's insanely jealous.  And violent.  If he finds me in here--"
Holmes sprang up.  "Watson, I bow to your experience.  Under the bed?"

Gould, Heywood.  "Everything is Bashert," in Jewish Noir, edited by Kenneth Wishnia, PM Press, 2015.
I have a story in this book.  Heywood Gould's tale is about Franny and Larson, two petty lowlifes who like to spend their days at Aquaduct. And it is at that race track one day that they run into a hasidic gentleman they call the rabbi (he isn't).  The rabbi has a Bible-based system for betting on the horses, a sure thing of course, and yet somehow he is short of money.  Go figure.  Our heroes lend him some cash and, well, a wild ride commences that involves among other things, breaking into a morgue, and ends with a sort of spiritual enlightment.  A treat from start to finish.

Hockey, Matthew J.  "Canary,"  in Thuglit, 18, 2015.

Booster is a fireman with a chemistry degree, which earns him the dubious privilege of being the first into a meth lab gone deadly.  He's the one who enters in full HAZMAT gear and has to determine if all the idiots inside were killed by the poisonous brew they created or whether there might be survivors. And this time he finds  a bag stuffed with four hundred grand.  Obviously he ought to leave it where it lies, but who will know if he doesn't?  And so he takes one step off the straight-and-narrow...


Kareska, Lane.  "Big Hard Squall,"  in Thuglit, issue 17, 2015.

Abby has been brutally attacked and locked in the trunk of her car, which is now headed for parts unknown.  We stay in Abby's head as she runs through her life and concludes that there is no one who would want to do this to her.  Therefore the target must be her daughter Margaret, a prosecuting attorney.  Either someone wants to punish Margaret or else put a squeeze on her, and Abby is the pawn in jeopardy.  But when the trunk lid opens Abby and us - are in for surprises.


Lewis, Evan.  "The Continental Opposite,"  in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, May 2015.

What chutzpah.  Lewis has revived Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op.

This story takes place in the fifties, decades after the Op's last appearance.  The main character is a young detective named Peter Collins (he notes bitterly that his father deliberately gave him a name that is gangland slang for "nobody").  Peter works for the Portland, Oregon branch of a national detective agency and when he accuses his boss of corruption the company sends in a retired op who used to work for the San Francisco branch ("sometime in the forties Continental had put him out to pasture, and he'd spent the years since killing a vegetable garden, sneering at golf courses, and not catching fish.").  This guy strongly resembles Hammett's hero, much older and, if possible, more cynical. A brilliant story.

Liss, David.  "Jewish Easter,"  in Jewish Noir, edited by Kenneth Wishnia, PM Press, 2015.

Al's family moved from Long Island to Jacksonville, Florida, when he was in third grade, because of his stepfather's import business.  Now he is thirteen and has begun to figure out exactly what is being imported.

But that's not his immediate problem.  There are a couple of anti-Semetic rednecks in his class and when they hear about Passover (which the sensitive teacher helpfully describes as "Jewish Easter,") they decide to invite themselves forcefully to the seder.  Let all who are hungry come and eat, right?

What I loved about the story is not the suspense but the surprising choices the characters make (especially the grandmother).  It kept me guessing right up to the last paragraph.

Maron, Margaret.  "We On The Train!"  in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, May 2015.  

Greg McInnis is a DEA agent who prefers to travel by train.  On a trip up the east coast he is amused by a young African-American woman who is gleefully phoning everyone she knows to tell them that she is going to visit New York with an older man she says is her Uncle Leon.

Sounds innocent enough, but this is a crime story, so something else must be going on here.  Will our hero figure it out in time?  He only has four pages...

Newman, Kim.  "Red Jacks Wild,"  in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Issue 17, 2015.

John Carmody is a psychologist in New York in 1951.  He also happens to be Jack the Ripper.

Wait a minute, you say.  He'd have to be a hundred years old.

Well, he is.  But he looks the same age he did in the 1880s when he started making human sacrifices to the evil goddess Hecate.  Which he still does, every three years.

But not prostitutes every time.  He alters his "disposables,"  choosing victims from a  group no one will care about.  Which makes him a weathervane pointing at whoever is on the bottom of the social pile.  This story is all about America's twisted psyche, and I loved it.


Opperman, Meg.  "The Discovery,"  in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Issue 18, 2015.

While studying at a university in her native Venezuela Celeste meets and marries Robert  and moves to Washington, D.C.  Robert is  a classic abusive, controlling, husband.  Celeste's every move is watched, her phone calls monitored.  When her bus home is late she is beaten.

 Reaching into a hand-carved box, I sort through the gold jewelry and select Robert's latest apology.

But what makes this story more than just a tale of domestic misery is that each scene is prefaced with a quotation from Christopher Columbus's letters or logbooks, describing his encounters with the natives of the new world.  It is no accident that Celeste and Robert get married on Columbus Day.

Palumbo, Dennis.  "A Theory of Murder,"  in And All Our Yesterdays, edited by Andrew MacRae, Darkhouse Books, 2015.

The publisher sent me this book for free.

It's Bern, Switzerland, 1904.  Hector, a clerk in the patent office, is suspected of a series of grisly murders.  Luckily a friend of his, also a patent clerk, is looking into the crimes.  And Albert Einstein is a pretty bright guy...  Wish I'd thought of that.

Ross, Gary Earl.  "Good Neighbors,"  in Buffalo Noir, edited by Ed Park and Brigid Hughes, Akashic Press, 2015.

Lou and Athena have retired after running their Greek restaurant for decades.  Lou's hobby is antiques.  He doesn't collect them, he just wants to buy low and sell high.  But then he discovers that his elderly neighbor Helen has a house full of the things.  And Helen has no relatives, no favorite charities, no one to leave her precious belongings to. So Lou and Athena set out to become really good neighbors and wait for Helen to pass away.

But then the Washingtons  move in on the other side, and it turns out that they are good neighbors too. This story is well-written, beautifully structured, and  one of those rare pieces I reread as soon as I finished it.

Rozan, S.J. "Chin Yong-Yun Meets A Ghost,"  in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March-April 2015.

This is my buddy S.J. Rozan's second story told by the  formidable mother of her series detective Lydia Chin.  When Mrs. Chin  gets a phone call from Gerald Yu she is annoyed  for three reasons.  First, Yu is a gambler and not very bright.  Second, he wants to involve daughter Lydia in his troubles.  And third, he happens to be dead.

"It's about my death, but it's not vengeance I'm after.  Also, it's not really about my death, because I'm not dead."
"Who told you that?  They're lying."




Rusch, Kristine Kathryn. "Christmas Eve at the Exit,"  in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, January 2015.

This is Ms. Rusch's second appearance on my annual best list.

It is Christmas eve and Rachel and her little girl are on the run.  Many pages will pass before we find out from who, and about the shadowy support system that is helping them.

Rachel is terrified, not sure who to trust, and desperately trying to keep up an appearance of normality for her daughter who, heartbreakingly, seems mostly concerned about Santa Claus. This story will appear in holiday-themed anthologies for years to come.

07 October 2015

In the book, from the Book


by Robert Lopresti

I have a ridiculous three stories coming out in anthologies this fall.  I wrote about one of them here and here is number two.

Last year at Bouchercon in Long Beach there was a panel entitled "Jewish Noir."  I couldn't attend but my wife did and it turned out to be about an anthology that was being planned.  Afterwards Terri talked to the editor, Kenneth Wishnia.  She asked two questions: were there any openings left?  And did the authors have to be Jewish?  Ken replied: yes and no, in that order.

Now as it happens, I am not Jewish but my wife and daughter are, so I have some familiarity with the culture.  Could I come up with something appropriate in a hurry?

I remembered one of my favorite Jewish tales, a Midrash, meaning a story the Rabbis invented to explain something odd in the Bible.   It tells of Nachshon, a Hebrew slave in Egypt who saved the day at the parting of the Red Sea.  When I first heard the tale I loved it so much I wrote a song about it.  Now I saw how I could use it as the kernel of a story for the Jewish Noir anthology.

I checked it with my two favorite experts on Judaism, Steve Steinbock and Terri.  They offered useful suggestions.  (By the way, here is Steve discussing, among other things, my song on the subject.)

I wrote fast and what do you know?  Ken Wishnia bought it.  So I am happy that "Nakhshon" (all the stories had to use the same alliteration system) found a place beside stories by Marge Piercy, Harlan Ellison,  SJ Rozan, and many others.


Here's a video of that song, by the way:


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Changing the subject!  Last week I gave you 25 movie quotations.  Here are the titles of the movies, and who said each line.

Oh, remember  I said there were two movies in a row based on books by the same author, with the same character?  Parker and Payback, based on novels about Parker, by Richard Stark.

Enjoy.

1. Your mother mates out of season. - Sam "George" Francisco (Mandy Patinkin) Alien Nation

2. Get off my lawn! -Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) Gran Torino

3. You can tell, you can really tell. You must be physic!  -  Lew Harper (Paul Newman)  Harper

4. Forget it Nick... it's Sandford. - Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) in Hot Fuzz.

5. -There's no sacrifice too great for a chance at immortality.
-Yes sir. -Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart)/ Waiter (George Davis) In A Lonely Place

6. -I got a hot date.
-Yeah?  Who is she and what did you arrest her for?   - Dick Stensland (Graham Beckel) / Bud White (Russell Crowe) L.A. Confidential

7. My name? If you knew that, you'd be as clever as me. -? (Daniel Craig) Layer Cake
8. -We makin' trouble for someone?
-Yep.
Which kind?
-The forever kind.   -Uncle John (Joe Dallesandro)/ Stacy (Nicky Katt  )  in The Limey

9. You're nobody till somebody shoots you.  - Earl (Laurence Mason) in The Lincoln Lawyer
 
10. Yeah, it's always heartwarming to see a prejudice defeated by a deeper prejudice.  -Cliff (Stephen Mendillo) Lone Star

11.  My old man used to say to me, probably the only thing we ever really agreed on, was that whoever has the money has the power. You might wanna jot that down in your book. It's something you're gonna need to remember.- Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode)  The Lookout.

12. I'm the girl they rush home from.  - Simone  (Cathy Tyson) Mona Lisa

13. I think all those stories about you being dead are true. You're just too thick-headed to admit it.  - Rosie (Maria Bello) Payback

14. -How do you sleep at night?
-I don't drink coffee after seven.   - Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez)/ Parker (Jason Statham) Parker

15. -I want to see my daughter.
-I don't think that would be a good idea.
-Why wouldn't that be a good idea?
-Because we hardly dared to look ourselves. - Duane Larsen (Michael O'Keefe)/ Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson), The Pledge

16. Do I ice her?  Do I marry her?  -Charley Partanna (Jack Nicholson) Prizzi's Honor

17. I'll catch up with you guys.  I forgot my bullets.  - Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon)  Premium Rush

18. No, I do not want that in the house. That is my car gun. My house gun is already in the house. Now, put that back in the glove compartment, and don't let me catch you fooling with my guns again.  - Wynn Quantrill (William Daniels) The President's Analyst.
19. -Is life always this hard, or is it just when you're a kid?
-Always like this.  Mathilde (Natalie Portman ), Leon (Jean Reno)  The Professional

20.  Well, if the woman up there is Mrs. Bates... who's that woman buried out in Greenlawn Cemetery? - Sheriff Chambers (John McIntyre) Psycho

21. You'll never see one dollar of this money, because no ransom will ever be paid for my son. Not one dime, not one penny. Instead, I'm offering this money as a reward on your head. Dead or alive, it doesn't matter. - Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson) Ransom

22. Go ahead. Jump. He never loved you, so why go on living? Jump and it will all be over...  -Mrs Danvers (Judith Anderson) Rebecca

23. Natural law. Sons are put on this earth to trouble their fathers. - John Rooney (Paul Newman) The Road to Perdition

24. - You ever kill anybody?
 - I hurt somebody's feelings once.  -Spence (Sean Bean) / Sam (Robert DeNiro) Ronin

25. -Where you going?
-To the Lincoln Memorial.
-It's closed.  It won't be open for another hour.
-I don't understand.
-He's an old man.  He needs his sleep.  -Luther Burton (Milton Berle)/ Girl Scout Leader (unidentified) Who's Minding The Mint?