Stories I’m Reading

ERLE STANLEY GARDNER “Where Angels Fear to Tread.” Lee Sparler #1. Novelet. Published in Detective Fiction Weekly, 30 December 1939.

   Even though he got a huge cover blurb, most assuredly on the name value of the story’s author, Erle Stanley Gardner, as a private eye, Lee Sparler turned out to only be a one-and-done. By this time in 1939 Gardner was winding down his pulp-writing career. Perry Mason and the Donald Lam and Bertha Cool books were a lot more profitable, I’m sure.

   As a character, Sparler is worth talking about, though, and I could do no better than to use the words of Theo. W. Garr, president of The Planet Investigations, Inc. Here he is describing the qualities of the operative he plans to assign to a prospective client’s case:

   “He looks like a gigolo. He plays the harmonica. He raises hell with office discipline. He’s found that my old-maid bookkeeper is a romanticist at heart, and capitalizes on that knowledge. He discharges his responsibilities in a thoroughly irresponsible manner. He’s always broke. He plays the race horses. He wastes expense money, and he doesn’t seem to take himself, life, or anyone else seriously. His personality is thoroughly distasteful to me. He’s raising the devil with all my routine. He takes too many chances, and some day he’s going to get himself killed if I don’t fire him first. I have long suspected that he solves his cases by luck more than by brains and application, but the point is he gets results. Now then, do you want us to handle the case, or do you want your check back?”

   I don’t know how often a sales pitch like this would really be effective, but of course the client says yes, maybe a little doubtfully, but yes. His daughter, he believes, is being blackmailed. She’s always broke, and he thinks she’s been pawning her jewelry. Without letting her know she’s being watched, Sparler’s job is find out what’s going on. Which he does, and as it turns out, everything his boss said about him is true.

   I think Gardner had a lot of fun writing this story, and it shows. The twists in the tale that you expect in a Gardner story are only minor ones, however, and in fact, to my way of thinking, the story ends far too soon. I enjoyed it, though. It’s too bad that Lee Sparler had only the one adventure, but we can always hope that he got the girl.

LARS ANDERSON “The Domino Lady Collects.” Short story. Domino Lady #1. Originally published in Saucy Romantic Adventures, May 1936. Collected in Compliments of the Domino Lady (Bold Venture Press, 2004). Reprinted in The Big Book of Female Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler (Black Lizard, 2018).

   Not the first paragraph of the story, but close to the beginning, and introducing the first recorded adventure of The Domino Lady!

   A nightgown of sheerest, green silk was but scant concealment for her gorgeous figure. A chastely-rounded body and a slender waist served to accentuate the seductive softness of her hips and sloping contours of her slim thighs, while skin like the bloom on a peach glowed rosily in the reflected sunlight.

   Fairly tame stuff, by today’s standards, but while I don’t know for sure, I suspect that at a lot of newsstands in 1936, you had to ask if they carried copies of Saucy Romantic Adventures, and if you didn’t look like some kind of close-minded law enforcement officer, they might have been able to sell you one from under the counter.

   Copies of the magazine that have survived until today go for large amounts of money. Scarcity and high demand. Simple economics. It certainly can’t be great literature that buyers are looking for.

   In the Penzler edition, the story is only eight pages long, barely enough to introduce the character, describe what it is that motivate her to dress up in style but adding a domino mask to keep her real identity a secret. She also has a job she has been asked to do, which she does most efficiently (some indiscreet letters must be retrieved). She has vengeance on her mind, to avenge the killing of her father at the hands of the “state machine.” That the villain in this piece is not jailed or otherwise inconvenienced by her intrusion into his home may mean the story continues right on into the next one.

   It’s a mere trifle, nothing more, and when it comes down to it, the writing is nothing to get excited about, D-level at best. Lars Anderson may have been a house name. If he was a real person, nothing solid seems to be known about him, but that his semi-sexy tales are being reprinted — and that stories of the character he created continue to be written by other hands — does say something about his ability to capture the minds of readers still young at heart. A little nostalgia for days past doesn’t hurt either.

      The original Domino Lady series

The Domino Lady Collects. Saucy Romantic Adventures, May 1936
The Domino Lady Doubles Back. Saucy Romantic Adventures, June 1936
The Domino Lady’s Handicap. Saucy Romantic Adventures, July 1936
Emeralds Aboard. Saucy Romantic Adventures, August 1936
Black Legion. Saucy Romantic Adventures, October 1936
The Domino Lady’s Double. Mystery Adventure Magazine, November 1936

SHANNON CONNOR WINWARD “Witch’s Hour.” Novelet. First published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2017.

   Fantasy stories with pseudo-medieval settings are very common. They usually come with castles and kings and queens, secret alliances and intrigue within the castle and with heads of other kingdoms, often with sons’ and daughters’ hands in marriage, with or without their approval.

   Such is the setting of “Witch’s Hour,” save for the primary protagonist, Esmelda, who heads the kitchen in Castle Lochhunte. She’s the head cook, in other words, and a good one, perhaps the best there is for miles around.

   But she has a problem. The ghost of the former cook, the man who she replaced, the man whose life she took when his groping hands became more than just a minor nuisance, is haunting her. That the king also has his eye on her, and not only for her finesse in the kitchen, is less of a problem — one in fact that she welcomes.

   But fantasy stories with pseudo-medieval settings need not always have happy endings, and this [PLOT ALERT!] is … You’ll have to read this one. The author, Shannon Connor Winward, is also an award-winning poet, and it shows.

RICHARD SALE “Chiller-Diller.” Daffy Dill #37. Short story. Detective Fiction Weekly, 24 June 1939. Reprinted in The Big Book of Female Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler (Black Lizard, 2018).

    Before he became well known in Hollywood circles as a writer, producer (Gentlemen Marry Brunettes) and director (Abandon Ship, Malaga, and so on), Richard Sale was a prolific writer of pulp fiction, with several hundred stories to his credit, including the long-running “Daffy” Dill series, beginning with “The Fifty Grand Brain” (Detective Fiction Weekly, 03 November 1934) and ending with “Death Flies High” (Flynn’s Detective Fiction, June 1943).

    “Chiller-Diller” is very much typical for the series, as breezy and fast-moving as you might expect a tale about a brash reporter for a New York City newspaper might be. The people in charge of the Chronicle have two stories going on at once: first the murder of a lady “cocktail” reporter for the rival Dispatchl and secondly the elopement of a young debutante with a notorious crooner slash hoodlum named Al Myers.

   Of course the two stories are connected, and it doesn’t take long for Daffy to find out how. The reason the tale is included in Otto Penzler’s The Big Book of Female Detectives is once again on the iffy side. Dinah Mason, the gossip columnist for the Chronicle and the love of Daffy’s life, is the one who found her rival’s body and is the one whose byline is on the story. She’s sent down to Florida for background information after that, however, and thereby essentially disappears from the story.

  FREDERICK NEBEL “Red Hot.” Jack Cardigan #27. Short story. Dime Detective, July 1, 1934. First collected in The Complete Casebook of Cardigan, Volume 3: 1934-35 (Altus Press, 2012). Reprinted in The Big Book of Female Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler (Black Lizard, 2018).

   Private eye Jack Cardigan appeared in some 44 hard-boiled tales published in Dime Detective Magazine between 1931 and 1937. Assisting him in many of his cases was Patricia Steward, sometimes in major ways. (I am not clear as to what her status actually was in the Cosmos Agency. Was she his secretary, or was she actually something more than that?)

   In “Red Hot,” Cardigan is hired by a client to find his nephew who left his family in bad standing, but now that his father has died, he is needed to be present for the reading of the will. Cardigan makes short work of finding the nephew, but the man flat out refuses to go back with his uncle.

   When Cardigan reports to the uncle, he assumes the man will confront his nephew directly, but the next morning Cardigan learns that the uncle has disappeared. Things happen very quickly from this point on, but not only is this a fast-moving story, it’s well plotted, too, ending in a most satisfactory fashion. (Many pulp yarns start off with a bang only to flag off badly at the end.)

   I read this one in the Penzler anthology, another giant doorstop of a book that’s well worth the money. I do question why this particular Cardigan story was used, though. Pat Steward is present throughout, but truth be told, besides being on hand to offer comfort to the nephew’s wife, she has very little to do.

ERLE STANLEY GARDNER “Cheating the Chair.” Sidney Zoom #14. Detective Fiction Weekly, 17 September 1932. [Added later:] Reprinted in The Casebook of Sidney Zoom, edited by Bill Pronzini. (Crippen & Landru, 2006).

   Alphabetically the last of the series detectives in the online Crime Fiction Index, I do not know if it is precisely correct to call Sidney Zoom a private eye. In this story, the only one of his adventures that I’ve read, he does not have a paying client, which would, I think, be one of the several criteria that must be satisfied to qualify.

   Zoom thinks of himself as a fighter for the underdog, and reads newspapers to find cases in which he believes justice is not being served. He appears to be independently wealthy. He has a devoted secretary named Vera Thurmond, and lives on a yacht with a captain on board to take him up and down the coast to wherever he needs to go.

   What attracts him to this current case, in which a disgruntled ex-convict is accused of killing the county attorney who sent him up, is that Zoom is convinced that the prosecutor’s version of what happened does not match the facts.

   In this regard, the detective work is fine, but the story gets muddled more than I’ve come to expect from Gardner. Zoom has to depend on bluffing the miscreants involved to secure the release of the accused man.

   As you can see from the list below, there were quite a few Sidney Zoom stories, but based on this one, while certainly readable, they may not be at the same level, quality-wise, as some of Gardner’s other series pulp heroes. I’ll have to investigate further.

       The Sidney Zoom stories —

The Higher Court (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly Mar 8 1930
(*) Willie the Weeper (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly Mar 29 1930
(*) My Name Is Zoom! (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly Apr 12 1930
The Purple Plume (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly May 24 1930
Time in for Tucker (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly Sep 13 1930
Strangler’s Silk (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Jan 3 1931
The Death Penalty (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Jan 17 1931
(*) Borrowed Bullets (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Mar 21 1931
The Vanishing Corpse (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Aug 15 1931
(*) Higher Up (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Sep 19 1931
(*) The First Stone (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Oct 24 1931
It Takes a Crook (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Feb 6 1932
(*) The Green Door (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Aug 20 1932
(*) Cheating the Chair (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Sep 17 1932
(*) Inside Job (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly Jan 7 1933
(*) Lifted Bait (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Oct 21 1933
(*) Stolen Thunder (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly May 19 1934

       (*) Included in The Casebook of Sidney Zoom.

A. E. APPLE “The Diamond Pirate.” Rafferty #2. Long novelette. First published in Detective Story Magazine, 22 October 1927. Reprinted in The Compleat Adventures of Mr. Chang and Mr. Rafferty, Battered Silicon Dispatch Box Press, hardcover, four volume set, 2010.

   I do not know whether the latter collection was ever published. “The Diamond Pirate” was the lead story of the October 22, 1927 issue of Detective Story Magazine, which is where I read it. It was preceded chronologically by “Rafferty, Master Rogue,” which appeared in the same magazine three weeks earlier.

   In that earlier story a master criminal named Rafferty outwitted a high-powered private eye by the name of Bradley and pulled off a bank robbery that netted him some twenty million dollars, a tidy sum, even today. In this second caper, Rafferty ups his game somewhat, intending to rob the diamond district en masse on a scale never seen before.

   The story opens in a mausoleum in a cemetery on a vicious rainswept night, as Rafferty’s closest lieutenants in crime meet in ear darkness to obtain the next step of instructions. In Act II, Rafferty obtains the services of a anarchic German scientist named Herr Heinie (…) but not before a long drawn-out confrontational scene between the two men takes place.

   Next, one of Rafferty’s assistants tries to defect to Bradley’s side, but the former gets wise, negates the loss and continues his plans. There is quite a bit of suspense that builds along way, but what may take the modern day reader by surprise — it did me — is that [PLOT ALERT!!] everything goes off smoothly. Rafferty and his gang make off with millions of dollars worth of diamonds, the last stage of their getaway accomplished by submarine. Bradley is a complete non-factor.

   There were over twenty tales told of Mr. Rafferty, at least two of them in conjunction with Mr. Chang, A. E. Apple’s equally long running version of a Chinese mastermind villain. I have no idea if Rafferty had the same amount of success in all of his ventures, but if all his schemes came off as easily as this one does, I have to wonder why the stories stayed as popular for as long as they did. A steady diet of tales such as this one would go nowhere quickly, as far as I am concerned.


BARRY PEROWNE “Raffles and the Death Rocket.” Popular Detective, March 1936. First published in The Thriller, UK, #249, 11 November 1933.

   Barry Perowne, nephew of Bertram Atkey, the creator of gentleman adventurer Smiler Bunn, began penning a series of short stories about E. W. Hornung’s famed amateur cracksman Raffles in the early 1930s. These stories appeared first in the British pulp Thriller, and later in hardcover and American pulps like this March 1936 issue of Popular Detective. In these tales Bunny Manders and A. J. Raffles pursued crime and justice much in the same manner as the Saint or Norman Conquest.

   As this one opens Bunny and Raffles have been summoned to a strange house in Mayfair where they are to observe an “experiment in the conquest of space” on of all nights November the 5th, Guy Fawkes night:

   Piccadilly Circus, with its roar and rumble of traffic, its glaring, winking, pulsating sky-signs, though a bare ten minutes away, seemed strangely remote from this singular house in this gloomy, aristocratic street.

   Muffled detonations came from the back streets, vivid flashes in the sky. November the fifth — night of fire works. Night of masks and shooting stars, but a night for the grotesque, the mysterious, the dramatic. A night through which ran a cruel, bright, eager motif — Flame!

   With a sense of adventure my friend, A. J. Raffles, cricketer, gentleman, and crook, and I, Bunny Manders, his partner in crime, passed beneath the arch and into the shadowy courtyard.

   Never let it be said Perowne hadn’t inherited a fine eye and ear for mystery and atmosphere. He was the author of many fine tales of suspense and adventure of his own aside from briefly continuing the adventures of cracksman Smiler Bunn and more extensively those of Raffles. Here we are in the popular gentleman adventurer mode of the between-the-Wars years, and Perowne handles the style with aplomb.

   Professor Louis Mendawe is to make the great experiment with a carefully chosen array of guests, but as Raffles and Bunny arrive at the costume ball to accompany the experiment they find only their hostess, the strikingly beautiful Lady Carla Mendawe and the other guests, including Grant Cardinal KC, who Bunny opines is much too familiar with the police in the form of their nemesis Inspector Duke Roth of the Yard, and a distinguished group of guests and the small fortune in jewels accompanying them, making Bunny more than a little nervous, especially when Raffles follows his restless nose to prowl around and they spy a silver haired girl in a crimson mask and follow her to a roof top observatory when …

   And that second, with a queer, muttering catch of his breath, Raffles hurled himself forward. I heard her low cry as they struggled. Then, sharp and clear through the humming of the machinery, the crack of an automatic, a crimson spurt of flame, brought me lunging to my feet!

   And we’re off, the suicidal young lady Lady Menshawe’s social secretary, Lesley Lorne, engaged to Lord Menshawe’s assistant Piers Armour, who was guarding the lab and saw the struggle. He claims to be as puzzled as Raffles, but reveals his employer has been nervous about this strange night.

   Then in short order Raffles and Bunny intercept a mysterious threatening phone message for Lady Menshawe , who insisted the experiment coincide with Guy Fawkes Night, and a prowler with a silenced weapon shoots at them while the rest of the guest are watching fireworks in the garden.

   What follows, all in the course of one incredible night involves a rival jewel thief, known as The Marquis, a crime of passion, one madman, the most incredible plot for disposing of a body I have ever encountered, a rocket launched to the moon (from the middle of Mayfair at that), and of course a victory, and profit, for Raffles sparing the lovers, young and older, embarrassing Inspector Roth, and some damn imaginative if hardly fair play detective work on Raffles’ part.

   No, it isn’t great literature, but is is great fun, this one as much in the American and the British thriller tradition, and it makes me wish I had read more of the earlier round of Perowne Raffles stories. This one is beautifully crafted and moves at a rapid pace, managing, just mind you, to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s before the highly satisfying final image.

   “Remember I dropped my cigarette case when we were interviewing the Marquis? His wall-safe, Bunny, was wide open and close at hand.”

   I sat up abruptly. His lighter clicked. In the small flame I saw resting on his palm something that flashed and flickered with the cold light of diamonds.

   The Khaipore pendant!

   “A penny for the guy,” said Raffles as blithely as had the Guy Fawkes night urchins used the phrase in Piccadilly Circus. Dropping the pendant into the pocket of his white waistcoat, he tilted his silk hat over his eyes and composed himself for sleep.

   Salaam, Raffles!

   Salaam indeed.

HARRY LYNCH “The Ape.” John Jaffray #2. First published in Clues Detective Stories, May 1935.

   In spite of reading and collecting pulp magazines for about 40 years, there always seem to be new authors to come across that I’d never heard of before. And of course what that means as well is that I’ve never heard of the characters they wrote about, either. Harry Lynch is such an author, and his series character, private eye John J. Jaffrey, is brand new to me too.

   Jaffray is not in Lynch;s two dozen or so pulp stories; the list below of the ones he is known to be om comes from the online FictionMags Index, and may or may not be complete. (Identifying series characters in old and hard-to-find magazines such as Clues Detective Stories that are over 80 years old is not the easiest thing in the world to do.)

   And given its age, “The Ape,” which is tentatively numbered two in the series, is certainly a relic of its time, but I enjoyed it. If you ever happen to come across a copy, I think you may too, especially if you like mystery stories with murderous apes in them, just as this one does. (No surprise there.)

   It begins with Jaffrey on the trail of a wealthy businessman who has gone missing. Having been hired by the man’s partners, he has found someone to follow who may lead him to the man. But wouldn’t you just know it — the train they are on together derails and the man he is following is killed.

   Obviously what Jaffray does next — you guessed it — he changes clothes with the dead man and under these false pretenses he is picked up by members of the gang who have abducted the man he is searching for, and off they go to their hideout. Then begins the wildest series of events you can ever image. First a dead man om a bier attended to by a beautiful Asian woman. Then a mad man in shackles who wanders around shooting bent pins with a rubber band. Plus another beautiful woman who seems to have been a captive of the gang and who spends much of the story totally nude. Then at last the leader of the gang who is totally blind.

   And of course the ape, who fondly carries the head of a dead man around with him wherever he goes. What more could you want?

      The John Jaffray stories —

Rattlesnake! (nv) Clues Detective Stories Dec 1934
The Ape (na) Clues Detective Stories May 1935
One Hour to Live (nv) Clues Detective Stories Jun 1935
Prevue of Hell (nv) Clues Detective Stories Aug 1935
Fury (ss) Clues Detective Stories Dec 1935
The Hooded Men (nv) Clues Detective Stories Apr 1936
Blast (nv) Clues Detective Stories Jul 1936

$500 and a Dream
at the Manhattan County Clerk’s Office:
A Review of Author Kevin Egan’s Latest Courthouse Story
by Gilbert Colon

KEVIN EGAN “The Movie Lover.” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, July-August 2018.

   Kevin Egan returns to the pages of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, contributing the eleventh story in his courthouse series, “The Movie Lover.” The July-August 2018 issue, on newsstands now, is devoted to film-themed fiction, so Egan makes his key character Nouri, sighted helper to the blind manager of the court’s lobby concession, an aspiring screenwriter.

   The most prominent feature of these tales is the iconic and historic courthouse building at 60 Centre Street, long famous even before being immortalized in the opening credits of the long-running television series Law & Order. Egan has used it as the location for all but one of his Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine stories to date.

   The series also features a recurring character, the enigmatic court officer Foxx. While the judges of the New York State Unified Court System balance the scales of justice, Foxx personally keeps them balanced in-house by anonymously operating in the building’s shadowy spaces and corners.

   Enlisting Foxx is Ray Dempsey, the crusty concessionaire of the on-site coffee shop serving the public through the New York State Commission for the Blind. Dempsey suspects someone in his employ is embezzling from the register of one of his stations. Foxx intimately knows the lay of the land, making his beat the circular court corridors that lead to the “dark, nameless door[s]” behind which lie secret rooms – or at least forgotten ones – that hold secrets only Foxx seems to know about.

   From a high vantage point above the fourth-floor pastry-and-coffee table Nouri tends, eagle-eyed Foxx spies “a quarter view sight line behind Nouri [and] watch[s] the money change hands, then retreat[s] around the back of the circle.” From here he can see “the way the cash is arranged in the till” and observe every transaction unnoticed…

   In no time, Nouri becomes the focus of Foxx’s investigation. Nouri’s background as a Middle-Eastern American, along with his housemates’, gives the story the opportunity to present the experience of regular immigrants in the early stages of assimilation, a normalized depiction not unlike that of the more established and even more ordinary Pakistani-American family in the 2016 HBO crime series The Night Of, scripted by crime author Richard Price (Clockers, Freedomland, five episodes of The Wire).

   Nouri is also the movie lover of the title, a would-be writer desperate – too desperate – to sell a Hollywood blockbuster script and hit it big. By day he works his job, learning dialogue by hearing everyday customer interactions that “no writing teacher or voice coach” could impart, artistically inspired by the courthouse every time he “walk[ed] up those front steps,” “carv[ing]out…quiet hours [to] write in his notebook” – “the hothouse for all his ideas.” (It bears noting that “The Movie Lover,” and all the stories of the courthouse series, are written by a man who works as a senior settlement coordinator in the same building – these lines could be Egan writing about himself.) By night Nouri types away on his “dilapidated laptop,” “hearing the dialog in his head and visualizing the camera angles with his mind’s eye” as he daydreams about his screenplays becoming “beautiful movie[s].”

   There, in those moments, and also on the terrazzo floor where he crouches in his downtime to scribble his inspirations, he lives inside his head creating, but he is also hopelessly over his head in trouble. The constant presence of production companies shooting big and small screen dramas that use the court interiors and exteriors as a backdrop, the production trailers and huge booms and cameras and film crews and PAs “wearing identical black tee shirts emblazoned with the name of the movie” only fuel what his realist roommate Asif regards as Nouri’s cockeyed delusions. There is a subtle contrast to be made here between the wide-eyed Nouri and his cynical blind boss Dempsey.

   Nouri’s innocent dreaming will leave readers dying to know the content of the “beautiful movie[s]” – ten screenplays in total – that he has recklessly sacrificed so much for, but alas the movie scripts remain a mystery, perhaps a casualty of the lean, clean short mystery story format. Perhaps these kinds of short fiction constraints are what led Egan to expand his Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine stories “Midnight” and “A Small Circle” into, respectively, the Centre Street courthouse novels Midnight and A Shattered Circle. The efficient crime narrative delivers the requisite resolution, action, and catharsis by the end, all in one fell swoop. But because Egan never overlooks the emotional notes, there is also bittersweet light and hope in the epilogue, qualities generally in short supply in the dark and jaded world of the crime genre.

   Besides being a solid and satisfying piece of crime fiction, “The Movie Lover” is a loving reminder of the glamorous Hollywood history surrounding the New York County Courthouse, storied in more than one sense of the word. Nouri wistfully reminds us of the many movies, some recent and others classic, that have filmed at the celebrated courthouse: “When I walk up those front steps, I see Charlie Sheen climbing to meet his fate at the end of Wall Street. When I wait for the elevator, I gaze up at the same WPA mural that loomed above Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau. When I get off the elevator, I pass the courtroom where John Payne proved Edmund Gwenn to be Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street.” Of course there are so many others – 12 Angry Men, The Godfather, and Carlito’s Way, to name a few – too many to list, in fact.

   In this way, “The Movie Lover” lets its readers appreciate anew the old building and its rich history which court staff, jurors, lawyers, litigants, and the general public take for granted, all through the “dreamy eyes” of Nouri, a starry-eyed romantic who, despite his many flaws, helps us to see it freshly as the thing of wonderment it is.


   Other film-themed stories in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine’s July/August “Lights! Camera! Murder!” issue, include Robert S. Levinson’s “Nine Years Later” (set during the filming of a Hollywood gangster picture) and Rebecca Cantrell’s “Homework” (a jewelry heist caper involving acting).

            * * *

KEVIN EGAN’s latest novel, A Shattered Circle, earned an early Publishers Weekly review hailing it as “his best to date.” He has authored eight novels and numerous short stories, many published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, not to mention an upcoming one in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Visit him at

            * * *

GILBERT COLON has written for several print and online publications, including Filmfax, Cinema Retro, Crimespree, Crime Factory, and Strand Mystery Magazine. He is a contributor-at-large for both the St. Martin’s Press newsletter and the Alfred Hitchcock Presents-heavy bare•bones e-zine. You may reach him at

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