A Fistful of Divas by Camille LaGuire
Series: Mick and Casey McKee
Published by the author on August 26, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Western, Short Story
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Young gunslinger detectives, Mick and Casey McKee, are eager to hear some opera singing. But when somebody takes a shot at some visiting divas, the concert is off. The ladies won't sing until Mick and Casey solve a case of blackmail and murder.
So I love Mick and Casey McKee. I wish there were more stories in the series. They are a gunslingers in the old west, a young married couple. And I do mean young. She’s maybe 17. He’s the talker, she’s the shooter and they make a great pair. This time around, the couple want to see singing at the local opera house. There’s a cute story why, involving Casey’s dad. Anyway, with these two nothing is ever simple. Just as they walk in to see who is warming up, there’s a shot, apparently aimed at one of the women on stage. If the ladies are going to feel safe enough to perform, Mick and Casey need to figure what’s going on and stop it.
The mystery was good, for a short story. The actual shooter’s identity is quickly established, but who hired him and why is the question. There are a couple clues and a nice, small list of suspects.
Like I said, I really enjoy the McKees. You get a good feeling for their relationship here. It’s not quite as good as the only full-length mystery in the series, Have Gun, Will Play, but it’s definitely worth the quick read.
The Boscombe Valley Mystery by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Narrator: David Timson
Series: Sherlock Holmes
Published by Naxos AudioBooks on November 21, 2013 (first published 1891)
Source: Audible Channels
Genres: Mystery, Short Story
Length: 1 hr 1 min
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Lestrade summons Holmes to a community in Herefordshire, where a local land owner has been murdered outdoors. The deceased's estranged son is strongly implicated. Holmes quickly determines that a mysterious third man may be responsible for the crime, unraveling a thread involving a secret criminal past, thwarted love, and blackmail.
I was going running/walking at the park the other night and didn’t have anything to listen to. I found “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” on Audible’s Mystery Channel and it was just the perfect length for how long I wanted to spend exercising. I have been a Sherlock Holmes fan forever, but I don’t remember reading this one before. That doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t though – I don’t have the best memory.
What seems like an open and shut case – James McCarthy killed his father – of course isn’t and it’s up to Sherlock Holmes to prove James’ innocence. There’s not much action, but we do see Holmes doing a thorough crime scene investigation, even making use of his knowledge of tobacco ash.
I guessed who the killer was, although I didn’t know all the ins and outs of why. For a short story, the motive is pretty complicated and I enjoyed the solution. Holmes softer side comes through a bit at the end. He doesn’t demand justice in this one, just makes sure the innocent aren’t punished.
I’ve been enjoying the new Audible Channels and have listened to several short stories recently. Most of them come from the Mystery Channel, of course.
“The Sign of the Broken Sword” by G. K. Chesterton – Features his famous characters Father Brown and former criminal Flambeau. In the center of the story is the mysterious death of General Sir Arthur St. Clare, who was hanged on a tree with his broken sword hung round his neck. The descriptions are excellent and Father Brown does a good job about telling us how he reaches his conclusion.
“Too Many Have Lived” by Dashiell Hammet – One of only three Sam Spade short stories, this one involves a blackmailing poet, a seductive chanteuse, her rough-hewn stage-door-johnny, and, of course, murder. The story was interesting but I found the full cast performance a bit distracting.
“If You Can’t Stand the Heat” by Lawrence Block – Story about a dangerous woman. It’s the first of the Kit Tolliver series and has a great ending.
“The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield – Laura, a vibrant young woman, is the central character. The story also depicts a worldly older woman, a sophisticated social gathering, some moderately dense males, and a disturbing event to which they all react differently. This is the first Mansfield I’ve read. I liked it. It was a quiet story but said more than I at first thought it was going to.
Three Sherlock Holmes stories were re-reads for me. I enjoyed them, but when you already know the ending, they’re not quite as good.
“The Adventure of the Empty House” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – This is one of my favorite Holmes stories. It brings Holmes back to life, and explain his apparently miraculous survival of a deadly struggle with Professor Moriarty.
“The Adventure of the Dancing Men” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – A gentleman is baffled when the childish drawings of little dancing men terrify his American wife. Interestingly enough, this is one of only two Sherlock Holmes short stories where Holmes’ client dies after seeking his help. The other is “The Five Orange Pips,” which I also listened to.
“The Five Orange Pips” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – John Openshaw visits Baker Street to consult Sherlock Holmes as to the mysterious deaths of both his uncle and father upon the arrival of letters containing five dried orange pips and bearing the mark “K.K.K.”
Have you listened to any of the Channels? Do you have a favorite?