Crime Fiction Friday: “Keeping It Simple” by Barry Graham

I can not think of better title to match a story than Barry Graham’s “Keeping It Simple,” recently published in Shotgun Honey. It is a tight, no muss, no fuss, crime story about the art of simplicity. That said, don’t try this at home.

-Scott Montgomery

“Keeping It Simple” by Barry Graham

We’re sitting in Phil’s garden, drinking red wine. I keep looking at the flower bed a few feet from the table where we sit. The colors are so rich, so intense, that the flowers look artificial, though I know they aren’t.

We’ve just finished eating dinner, which Phil cooked.

“I’ll never understand how your cooking is so great,” I say.

“Like I’ve told you, it’s about keeping it simple. No more than four ingredients, then all you do is apply heat and patience. Just trust the food. It’s when you complicate things that you run into trouble.”

Read the rest of the story.

Crime Fiction Friday: “Fudge Factor” by Bruce Harris

 

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The dangers of hot dogs have been in the news again recently. In this piece from Out Of The Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive, Bruce Harris shows another way they can lead to harm.

“Fudge Factor” by Bruce Harris

Two things: hot dogs and music. Loud music.

My son Aaron’s twelve. Dealt a rough hand at birth, Down’s syndrome. Some pity him. We’ll have nothing of it. Aaron’s a great kid with an enthusiasm for life unequaled by any other twelve-year old. The kid can pack away hot dogs. I think he ate his first the same week he cut teeth. Who knows, in a couple of years, Aaron may earn his 15 minutes of fame winning Nathan’s July 4th hot dog eating contest. He’s happiest, though with earphones affixed and heavy metal music blaring so that the pounding bass sets off car alarms a block away.

Some pity my wife and me. You play the cards you are dealt, though every now and then I grab one from up my sleeve. I don’t have time for regrets. I make time for life lessons. Aaron comes home from school, his smile nearly stretches to his ears, tells me as only he could that he’s learning to add and subtract. His homework assignment is to spend some money, get change, count it and record it.

Read the rest of the story.

Crime Fiction Friday: “No Blind Love” by Chelsea Covington Maass

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One of the things I’ve been wanting to see is a rural noir from a female point of view. I was happy to stumble on this piece published in Shotgun Honey by Chelsea Covington Maass. She does a wonderful job of delivering her narrators voice with a pitch perfect last line.

  • Introduced by Scott Montgomery

“No Blind Love” by Chelsea Covington Maass

“Tilda, I know how you hate to read. God, even when we was kids I couldn’t get you into them romance books I loved, but you always liked to hear the stories, so I figured this old tape recorder would be perfect to leave you my message.

You’re gonna be pissed when you find out I run off with Rex. I promise it’s not like before. I know he ain’t on the up and up, but it’s not drugs. I was telling the truth when I promised not to go back to that scene…”

Read the rest of the story.

Crime Fiction Friday: “Blood From A Stone” by Liam Sweeny

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Liam Sweeny is a rising talent in the crime fiction world with a knowing voice that grabs a reader. In this story, recently featured on Spinetingler, he gives us a debt collector having a very bad day.

Blood From A Stone” by Liam Sweeny

“Skip-tracing is an inglorious vocation. Sure, the money’s okay, but only if you’re good. Same goes for job security. But nobody wants to know what you do. Well, maybe they do, like if you were a cop, but there’s always the arm’s length they keep you at. You aren’t one of them. They have debt. They all have debts. And you represent the pimp they have to deal with when they stiff their hookers. Your calls are met with fear, indignation, loathing, and sometimes rage.

I’m Carlton. I’m the banker’s pimp.”

Read the rest of the story. 

Crime Fiction Friday: “Death at a Farmer’s Market” by Adam Rosen

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With this years Bouchercon ongoing in Raleigh, North Carolina, we thought it would be fun to put up this story, set in nearby Asheville, first published in Akashic’s Mondays Are Murder series. Rosen takes an innocuous setting and with a little slow burn and dark satire, creates a fun, cleanly written,mini-thriller.

“Death At A Farmers Market” by Adam Rosen

“How much is this?” the middle-aged man asked, irritated. He pointed a finger at a bunch of lacinato kale—fresh in, a chalk-marked sign indicated, from a farm outside Hickory. He had been waiting at the stand for five minutes, and was not about to wait a minute longer.

“Four-fifty,” said the man behind the table. He looked too old to still be farming, and he spoke softly. It was hard to hear him over the banjo playing nearby. The upright bass didn’t make it any easier. “That’s fresh in from Hick’ry.”

“That’s what the sign says!” replied the man as he stuffed two bunches into his tote. The WNCW logo covered the canvas bag in big blue letters that nobody could miss. “I usually do rainbow chard, but it’s disgusting this week. It looks like it’s from the SuperSaver.”

Read the rest of the story.

(Belated) Crime Fiction Friday: “A Change of Clothes” by Mark Pryor

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This September’s Pick Of The Month is Hollow Man by Mark Pryor. The book uses his background as a prosecutor to draw a portrait of a sociopath defense attorney. He drew inspiration for his novel from his short story “A Change of Clothes,” posted on A Twist Of Noir back in 2009. You can find copies of Hollow Man on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Pryor joins us at BookPeople on Wednesday, September 30, to speak and sign his latest. 

“A Change of Clothes” by Mark Pryor

“She was the first one in days, maybe weeks, who didn’t stink. Who didn’t shuffle or cower, or prowl through the metal door like an angry dog.

She was the first one in days, weeks, who made me stand up straight and pay attention to the paperwork.

One by one, the deputy brought them out, made them stand on the black line in front of the judge, and two feet to my right. The deputy would give me a nod if they were compliant, raise an eyebrow if he expected a fight. Very few of them fight.

One by one, the judge lets them plead guilty, asking me, the state’s prosecutor, to detail the plea agreement. This one gets probation, this one gets jail. And this one, the stinking fat man who likes little kids, he gets ten years in prison and then ten years of probation. Yeah, I’m looking at you, fat man, what the fuck are you gonna do about it?

But when the deputy brought her out, he just looked at me, our secret code abandoned. Hardly surprising, it’s not like we had a signal for hot chicks. Never needed one…”

Read the rest of the story. 

Special Crime Fiction Sunday: “Chocolate Moose” by Bill and Judy Crider

We are happy to have Texas genre writer extraordinaire Bill Crider joining us for an evening of Lone Star Crime with Reavis Wortham and Ben Rehder. They’ll be here at the store on Monday, September 28th, at 7 PM. Bill will be reading from his latest Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, Between The Living & The Dead. If you are not familiar with his Clearwater, Texas lawman here’s a taste from the Anthony Award winning short story he wrote with his wife. It even has a chicken fried steak recipe. Can you get more Texas?

“Chocolate Moose” by Bill and Judy Crider

“Sheriff Dan Rhodes didn’t go to the Round-Up Restaurant often, but not because the food wasn’t good. He didn’t go because the food was too good.

The portable sign out front told the story with black letters on a white background: ABSOLUTELY NO CHICKEN FISH OR VEGETARIAN DISHES CAN BE FOUND ON OUR MENU!

What could be found were huge chicken-fried steaks and mashed potatoes smothered in cream gravy; big, soft rolls served with real butter; cooked-to-order T-bones marbled with fat on a plate beside a gigantic baked potato slathered with real butter, sour cream, and bacon bits; hamburger steaks with grilled onions piled high, along with a mound of french-fries or, if you preferred, hand-cut and battered onion rings. And, for dessert, there was a choice of peach or cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream on top. If you didn’t like cobbler, there was chocolate pie, with the best, the richest, the sweetest filling that Rhodes had ever tasted under its inch-thick meringue.

In other words, the Round-Up served good, solid food that stuck to your ribs, put a smile on your face, and, according to many leading physicians, filled your coronary arteries with substances whose effect on your health it was better not to think about. Which was why Rhodes rarely ate there.  His wife, Ivy, had him on a low-fat regimen that was taking inches off his waistline and, she claimed, adding years to his life. As Rhodes pulled the county car into the Round-Up’s black-topped parking lot, he wished, in spite of the risk to his longevity, that he were going there to have a big slice of chocolate pie, or, failing that, maybe one of those baked potatoes.  But he wasn’t. He was going to see about a man who’d been killed by a moose.


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