Cat’s Paw by Bill Pronzini

"Cat's Paw" is my first experience with the new Audible channels, which are free for members. It's one of the selections available on the mystery channel. I wasn't sure how it was going to work, but you click on the channel and it gives you a list of available titles and how long the selections are. I was on my lunch hour, taking the dog for a walk, so 40-ish minutes was perfect for me. I will definitely be seeing what other stories are available on the various channels. "Cat's Paw" won the Shamus Award in 1984 for "Best Private Eye Short Story." The mystery itself was good. I've never read any in Pronzini's "Nameless Detective" series, but that didn't affect my enjoyment of this short story. The zoo makes for an interesting setting and Pronzini is wonderful with descriptions. What starts for our nameless detectives as a job investigating rare animal thefts turns into discovering who is a killer. It's...
Read More

Early Bird Special by Tracy Krimmer

I don't go Black Friday shopping, or Thanksgiving Day shopping for that matter, but I thought reading this short story that starts off with Francie and her family in line in the cold waiting for the store to open on Thanksgiving would fit the day. I know "Early Bird Special" is a short story, but at the end I was left with a "that's it?" feeling. I like Francie. Her parents seem nice enough and her brother has the potential to be interesting, but there were too many things brought up and just left off. I would have enjoyed it more if Krimmer had had a bit more time to develop the characters and story. I wanted a romance and I ended up with a woman deciding she needs to give men, and one in particular, a chance, which is not the same thing. I did enjoy it though. It was cute, it just didn't have that complete feeling I'm looking for...
Read More

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

Amber's been reading Poe stories in her English class at school - it's a shame I borrowed her book. No, I'm not that mean, they have copies to read at school. But I do have to thank Michelle at Castle Macabre for making me pull the Poe stories out. It's given Amber and me the chance to talk about Poe stories in general and specifically "The Cask of Amontillado," since we both read that this month. Poe is many things, subtle not being one of them. "The Fall of the House of Usher" borders on the melodramatic, but in a good way. Poe's writing is ornate and poetic, which is probably why I find Poe best read aloud, even if it's just me reading to myself.  This story is very much a Poe story - we have several trademarks, from the just overall oppressive atmosphere to the crazy male lead to someone being buried alive, but it's a formula that works for him, that he...
Read More

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

I don't read much horror, but Michelle is hosting read-alongs of three of Poe's short stories at Castle Macabre this month and they fit in so well with RIP X that I decided to join her on a couple. My daughter is a huge Poe fan, so I borrowed her paperback copy of Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe. I wasn't sure about reading The Cask of Amontillado. Being buried alive is one of my fears, silly I know but that's beside the point. I may have read too many stories like Poe's when I was younger, but the victim here is bricked into a wall, which is somehow different. I don't want to tell too much about the story, it's only 9 pages long and you really should just take the few minutes and read it. A couple of things really stuck me, though. First is, as always, how much good short story writers can cram into those pages,...
Read More

Intimations of Austen by Jane Greensmith

Maybe it's been too long since I read most of Jane Austen's novels. I don't remember all of the characters and few of the details, so I think I may have not been the best audience for this book. Out of the collection only two really struck me. The first, "Rainbow Around The Moon," a sequel to Persuasion was a short, touching tale about Captain Wentworth and his daughter. I don't think you necessarily needed to read the original to appreciate it. The other was "All I Do," the last story and longer than the others. In this tale of Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth is not married to Darcy.  The characters are a bit fuller than in the others and I guess I remember the original story better than the others. It was enjoyable, seeing the "what might have been" and how in the end Darcy and Elizabeth still get happiness. The others were neither here nor there for me. They weren't bad, they just...
Read More

The Shell Game by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Short stories are always tough to talk about - I want people to know why I did/didn't enjoy it, but I don't want to give away too much. It's even tougher when it's a prequel to a series that I've read all the rest of, like this one. The Shell Game details Nick Fox and Kate O'Hare's first meeting. Nick's a con-man/thief and Kate's FBI. HE's charming, she's dedicated. They're both intelligent and good-looking, although I'm not sure you get a feel for how attracted they are to each other in this mini-episode. Nick gets to show off his cleverness, Kate gets to show off her ability to see through him, but I missed their interactions with each other that are so much of the fun in the series. Scott Brick does a good job as always as the narrator. His tone of voice fits the story, not melodramatic, but not straight either. Does that make sense. He knows the type of story...
Read More