The Most Dangerous Game

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Connell

157076

The Most Dangerous Game features a big-game hunter from New York who becomes shipwrecked on an isolated island in the Caribbean and is hunted by a Russian aristocrat.

When asked ‘what is your favorite short story?’ (because that happens often..) my immediate response is always The Most Dangerous Game. I have no idea how old I was when I first read it, though I am pretty sure it was per a school assignment. I do; however, vividly remember reading it for the first time. The emotions evoked by The Most Dangerous Game were intense, from the confusion at Rainsford’s predicament, through a shared sense of shock, to the wild fear coursing uncontrolled in my gut as I frantically turned through the pages. It was brilliant!

Rereading it as an adult will never be the same as that first time, but each reread stirs up that memory. That haunting and chilling memory still leaves goosebumps racing up my arms.

The story is simple, with a basic writing style that modern readers may find overly simplistic. And yet, Connell manages to connect to your primal emotions despite a writing style that lacks the detailed, showy language of modern literature. I think the simplistic style easily allows the reader to tap into their imagination, triggering a deeper emotional response. In my reread, I was also realized the historical aspects of the setting. Reading it for school meant discussing emotions and the moral complexities of big game sport hunting, but this time I recognized that the General and Rainsford both survived the Great War. I was able to acknowledge Zaroff’s Cossack heritage and the evolution of his life after the Russian Revolution. And of course, I was fascinated at this unique approach on how boredom affects a mind. There is just so much packed in those 20 pages.

I will always recommend The Most Dangerous Game. Always. It takes everything for me not to restart it each time I turn that last page. So, do yourself a favor, and pick this story up for a late October night read.

Is anyone else a fan? Let me know so that we can nerd out together!

Lindsay

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Murder on Santa Claus Lane

Murder on Santa Claus Lane

by William G Bogart

Murder on Santa Claus Lane

G-Men Detective, January 1943
MURDER ON SANTA CLAUS LANE
by William G. Bogart

With a Blackout in Hollywood, Rookie Patrol Car Cop Johnny Regan Does Some X-Ray Work to See Through Crime!

Murder on Santa Claus Lane combines two of my typical December reading trends: Christmas mystery and crime noir/pulp fiction.  My love for Nero Wolfe has me slowly branching out to similar noir pieces and I found this short story through Barnes and Noble.  Murder on Santa Claus Lane has been publish in e-book format by Peril Press, an independent publisher based in Portland, and was initially printed in the January 1943 issue of the G-Men Detective Magazine.  This publication featured ‘G-Men’ crime stories and was produced from 1935 to 1953.  William G Bogart was a prolific crime novelist who worked on the Doc Savage novels. (Note: Limited research was involved so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong!)

Johnny Regan is a rookie patrol cop in Hollywood.  He is stuck working the streets over the Christmas holidays and is disappointed that air raids have the city blacked out.  He isn’t even able to enjoy the Christmas lights on patrol.  But, all thoughts of holiday cheer are forgotten when he and his partner, Big Ben Slattery, get tangled up in a holiday robbery.

Murder on Santa Claus Lane is a fun short story full of that classic noir flavor.  Regan is a young buck who is headstrong, cocky, and quite fond of shapely blondes.  Big Ben is his always-cheerful mentor.  Together, they scour the less wealthy streets of Hollywood for crime.  The passages just dripped with the raw imagery of the genre.  My imagination put me right there in the middle of the grainy black and white scene as the copper raced to help his cornered partner…  I love this genre!

Surprisingly, the story, and characters, are just a tad too flat for me.  Bogart was missing some essential descriptive language and I was left feeling that this was a short story he pinned for some extra dough and exposure.  I just couldn’t really connect with any of the characters and that is essential for short stories.  You want your readers invested by the end of the first paragraph.  There were a few continuity errors that forced me to re-read parts.  Just small things that left me thinking, “Where in the world did that flashlight come from?”  The story composition was just rough.

Murder on Santa Claus Lane is worth checking out if you are a fan of the genre.  I suggest something a tad bit more polished for those starting out in crime noir.  Hardboiled crime/crime noir is a rugged pulp fiction style that is definitely an acquired taste.  I love it!  The grittiness, clichés, and language push me to read more of the genre.  Any hardboiled crime/crime noir fans out there?  What is your favorite book?

Lindsay

The Blue Girl

The Blue Girl

by Alex Grecian

The Blue Girl (Murder Squad, #2.5)

From the author of the nationally bestselling suspense novel The Yard and its sequel The Black Country, both novels of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad, coves a short story of the Squad, a cautionary tale: Be careful what you wish for.

October 1889: Constable Colin Pringle is a man of few illusions, but there is something about the girl in the canal, her skin a delicate shade of blue, that bothers him more than he expected it would. Perhaps it’s because Dr. Kingsley’s forensic examination suggests that she was a just-married bride. Someone needs to find out just who she was and what happened to her, Pringle decides, and he sets out to do exactly that. But the answers will not be anything like what he expects. In fact, they will shake his view of the world to the core.

The Blue Girl is officially listed as #2.5 in Grecian’s Murder Squad series, but I decided to review it first because the story takes place before the opening novel in the series, The Yard. But, I suggest reading The Yard, which I will review tomorrow, before The Blue Girl. The Yard provides the detailed character development and established relationships that readers should know before jumping in to the short story. Also, Grecian should commend his cover artist because the covers for each book are amazing! This is my favorite; it is morbidly beautiful and it gives me chills each time I see it.

On to the review! The Blue Girl is told as an entry in Constable Colin Pringle’s personal journal. It is written from his POV and follows his investigation for the killer of the blue bride. The story needed to be longer. Grecian did not have the space to tell the story and include his usual flare and descriptive language. The Blue Girl starts out in Grecian’s normal style as he shows us selflessness of destitute Londoners retrieving the girl’s body, but such descriptive language diminishes as the story progresses. I know that Colin Pringle is a vain, but good man from The Yard; he comes across as stuck up and almost whiny in this short story. I also didn’t feel like Pringle’s view of the world was rocked to the core upon discovering the truth behind the blue girl’s death. I could tell that he was disturbed by the outcome of the investigation but nothing more. The latter half of the story was missing the vibrant ‘showing’ language that makes Grecian’s novels so enjoyable. Hopefully his next short story will be longer.

Grecian’s secondary female characters are rather flat, both in The Yard and The Blue Girl. I expect this to change as he continues writing and building his experience. I’ll discuss Grecian’s writing style further in my review of The Yard.

Overall it is a good short story and I definitely did not expect the ending! I love Grecian’s characters and I really enjoy the time period of the Murder Squad novels. I recommend The Blue Girl as a fun read but I suggest you start with The Yard to get a better feel for the characters and Grecian’s writing style. Has anyone else read The Blue Girl?

Lindsay

Gingerbread Cookie Murder

Gingerbread Cookie Murder

by Joanne Fluke

7382985

Nothing’s better on Christmas Eve than waiting for the stroke of midnight with a cup of eggnog and a plate of warm gingerbread cookies. This text presents a collection of three Christmas mystery stories.

I want to start this review by stating that I only read Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke and didn’t have time to read the short stories by Leslie Meier and Laura Levine. Nothing against the other ladies; I just didn’t have the time during the holidays to finish the second two short stories.

Gingerbread Cookie Murder follows Fluke’s leading lady, Hannah, as she tackles the Christmas holidays. She is slammed with cookie orders and stuck embracing her mother’s over active love life, but Hannah is still enjoying the season. That is until she discovers her obnoxious neighbor dead in his kitchen. Everyone deserves justice and Hannah sets out to find this Christmas killer!

I love a good cozy mystery but have avoided diving in to Fluke’s extensive series primarily because I lack the baking enthusiasm. I may have to remedy this because I enjoyed spunky Hannah!

Gingerbread Cookie Mystery was a fun read but you will figure out the culprit quite quickly. I don’t really understand our main character’s love triangle relationship, but that’s my fault for jumping in mid series. It was cute, funny, and full of delicious cookies!

I recommend reading now before those New Years resolutions kick in! Anyone a Joanne Fluke fan?

Lindsay

Ruth’s First Christmas Tree

Here are the reviews of the two Christmas stories I finished last month.  Sorry it took so long to get these to you!  Enjoy!

Ruth’s First Christmas Tree

by Elly Griffiths

16233129

It is three days before Christmas and a bitter wind is blowing across Norfolk.

Until her daughter was born, forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway didn’t do Christmas, but now that Kate is a year old, she wants it to be special.

She must get a tree, shop for food, clean the house, buy presents, including one for her new boyfriend—who she isn’t even sure is her boyfriend—and remember to get the turkey out of the freezer.

But time is rushing by and the best-laid plans don’t always work out …

Professional archaeologist Ruth is determined to give her daughter, Kate, a proper Christmas and the first item on her to-do list is to purchase a Christmas tree.  It is the first time for Ruth to celebrate Christmas as an adult and she is struggling to wrap her analytical mind around such a faith based holiday.  Her day involves a Christmas party, a blizzard, a missing wooden artifact, and a unique tree.  All help Ruth realize that the perfect Christmas tree is definitely worth the work.

I was excited about this short story because I was interested to read how Ruth’s academic mind would approach the Christian holiday.  I have a background in archaeology and am a devout Christian which, in my experience, is a rare combination.  Ruth looked at Christmas exactly how I expected her to; analytically, but she is still quite a complex character.

I really wanted to like Ruth’s First Christmas Tree.  I like the premise but the story was just too undeveloped.  The writing was raw and there were too many loose ends.  The missing wooden artifact, which Griffiths utilizes strictly as an extra plot tool as it has nothing to do with Christmas or a Christmas tree, needed to be explained in greater detail.  Go all out if you plan to use such a plot tool.  Griffiths tells you the history of the missing artifact and how Ruth eventually finds it, but that’s it!  Why was it where Ruth found it?  What was the culprit’s reasoning for taking the piece?  Will he be brought to justice?  All these unanswered question just left me irked.  Now, I know this short story is part of a large series so hopefully these questions will be answered in the next novel, but they still should have been discussed in Ruth’s First Christmas Tree.

I did my best to connect with Ruth, but she read a bit too judgy.  For example: it was acceptable for her to have a child out of wedlock due to an affair with a married man but heinous that her boss did the exact same thing except left his wife to marry his mistress….that doesn’t make sense at all.  Nor did some of her rash behavior.  Kate pulls the tree down as soon as Ruth puts it up and Ruth’s immediate response is to just throw the tree outside?  Yeah, I don’t get it.

I enjoyed Griffiths’ cast of diverse characters and I may have enjoyed the story more if I had read the first few novels in the series.  I think Griffiths has the ability to tell a good story; I just feel that Ruth’s First Christmas Tree warranted more editing.  Definitely check out Griffiths if you are interested in archaeologist stories because she nailed the academic archaeologist personality.

Have you read any of Griffiths’ work?  What do you think?

Lindsay

Cordially Invited to Meet Death

 

Cordially Invited to Meet Death

by Rex Stout

Cordially Invited to Meet Death: A Nero Wolfe Novella

My synopsis:  Bess Huddleston, an eccentric party planner for New York’s elite, approaches Wolfe with a request; to find the culprit behind letters damaging her image.  Wolfe takes on the case at the promise of a hefty fee, but Huddleston dies of tetanus just days later.  Archie Goodwin is sure it is foul play and pushes Wolfe to search for Huddleston’s murderer.

Cordially Invited to Meet Death is included in The Black Orchids collection.  Black Orchids are a small detail of the story and play an important role for Archie during his investigation.  His statement at the end of the novel is perfect.  It ties everything together but still leaves readers marveling at the mystery that is Nero Wolfe.

I enjoy Cordially Invited to Meet Death because of how the murder is committed.  The scientific nature is just fascinating and is different, as the novella was written long before the mass production of crime investigation shows.  It also perfectly showcases the tumultuous relationship shared by Wolfe and Inspector Cramer.  The two worked together in the last novella I reviewed but this time they are left butting heads.  Cramer insists on throwing his badge and authority at Wolfe who promptly investigates the murder out of spit!  We also get to see the Archie’s frustrations at working with a genius who rarely shares his full thought process.

This is not my favorite novella because of the cast of characters.  Bess Huddleston just irks me, especially with her menagerie of dangerous pets.  I shared Archie’s opinion of Ms. Huddleston’s home.  I personally feel that wild animals should not be pets and that most people who have them as pets don’t even have the ability to train a dog, much less a bear or chimp.  It may seem harsh but I am sure Wolfe would agree with me.  I also wanted to know specific details during the reveal of the murderer, but I can’t go in to that without ruining the story.

Has anyone else read Cordially Invited to Meet Death?  Have I convinced you to check out Nero Wolfe yet? 😉

Lindsay

The Twelve Gauge of Christmas

The Twelve Gauge of Christmas

by P.A. Gardinali

The Twelve Gauge of Christmas

It was the old bastard, all right; laying by the fireplace, contorted in an unnatural pose. The streaks of blood ran down from the mantelpiece, which he had likely grabbed in a desperate escape attempt.” A homage to my favorite noir writer of all times. Set in an alternate reality, just slightly less bizarre than ours.

Note:  This story takes a rather morbid approach to the Santa Claus myth.  I enjoyed it because, well, I have a rather morbid sense of humor.  Just keep that in mind during my review and while reading the story.  I definitely recommend it; especially to the crime noir fans!

To be honest, I purchased The Twelve Gauge of Christmas because the Nook copy was cheap and the title made me chuckle.  It was such a far cry from the Hallmark movies I have binged watched the last few weeks and, oddly, exactly what I needed this Monday morning.

Gardinali provides a the very different approach to Santa Claus with his crime noir short.  You should all know by now that I am a sucker for the hardboiled crime writing style and Gardinali’s prose had me hooked the first page.  I even enjoy the gritty run down cop, Thompson’s, first person POV.  I want to tell you all about the little details that just rocked this story, but I can’t.  I want you to read it!  And I don’t want to ruin it!

I do wish Gardinali had provided more information about the religious division Thompson worked for.  The details concerning this version of our world had me hoping that Gardinali has more stories set in this alternate ‘US of A.’  I just want to know more, but it would have ruined the story structure if he had included it.  I also wondered if Gardinali was trying to make a subtle religious statement; if so, it escaped me.  Of course, this may just be me over analyzing in my lack-of-coffee state.

Have you read The Twelve Gauge of Christmas?  Are you a fan of Gardinali?  This story has me wanting to read some of his other work.  It was nice to read a twisted Christmas story 😀

Lindsay

Murder on Santa Claus Lane

Murder on Santa Claus Lane

By William G Bogart

Murder on Santa Claus Lane

G-Men Detective, January 1943
MURDER ON SANTA CLAUS LANE
by William G. Bogart

With a Blackout in Hollywood, Rookie Patrol Car Cop Johnny Regan Does Some X-Ray Work to See Through Crime!

Murder on Santa Claus Lane combines two of my typical December reading trends: Christmas mystery and crime noir/pulp fiction.  My love for Nero Wolfe has me slowly branching out to similar noir pieces and I found this short story through Barnes and Noble.  Murder on Santa Claus Lane has been publish in e-book format by Peril Press, an independent publisher based in Portland, and was initially printed in the January 1943 issue of the G-Men Detective Magazine.  This publication featured ‘G-Men’ crime stories and was produced from 1935 to 1953.  William G Bogart was a prolific crime novelist who worked on the Doc Savage novels. (Note: Limited research was involved so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong!)

Johnny Regan is a rookie patrol cop in Hollywood.  He is stuck working the streets over the Christmas holidays and is disappointed that air raids have the city blacked out.  He isn’t even able to enjoy the Christmas lights on patrol.  But, all thoughts of holiday cheer are forgotten when he and his partner, Big Ben Slattery, get tangled up in a holiday robbery.

Murder on Santa Claus Lane is a fun short story full of that classic noir flavor.  Regan is a young buck who is headstrong, cocky, and quite fond of shapely blondes.  Big Ben is his always-cheerful mentor.  Together, they scour the less wealthy streets of Hollywood for crime.  The passages just dripped with the raw imagery of the genre.  My imagination put me right there in the middle of the grainy black and white scene as the copper raced to help his cornered partner…  I love this genre!

Surprisingly, the story, and characters, are just a tad too flat for me.  Bogart was missing some essential descriptive language and I was left feeling that this was a short story he pinned for some extra dough and exposure.  I just couldn’t really connect with any of the characters and that is essential for short stories.  You want your readers invested by the end of the first paragraph.  There were a few continuity errors that forced me to re-read parts.  Just small things that left me thinking, “Where in the world did that flashlight come from?”  The story composition was just rough.

Murder on Santa Claus Lane is worth checking out if you are a fan of the genre.  I suggest something a tad bit more polished for those starting out in crime noir.  Hardboiled crime/crime noir is a rugged pulp fiction style that is definitely an acquired taste.  I love it!  The grittiness, clichés, and language push me to read more of the genre.  Any hardboiled crime/crime noir fans out there?  What is your favorite book?

Lindsay

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

by Harry Turtledove

Vintage Steven Smith Soldier Teddy Bear Pair Plush Union & Confederate Army with Wooden Rifle Musket

 

I initially read The Road Not Taken in my Science Fiction Lit class during my undergrad (I miss that class!).  I had been thinking about the story the last few days and I had to reread and share!  I ran into some problems though because I could not find this particular short story listed by itself.  So here is a cute, and relevant picture from Pinterest and I provided the link to Turtledove’s website.  I am afraid to provide a synopsis because I don’t really want to spoil the story for you.

Just know that Turtledove is the king of ‘what if?’.  This story takes a different look at point of Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken.”  And he does so utilizing alien cultures and technological advancement!  Just read it!

Sorry for the short review.  Anyone out there a Turtledove fan!?

Lindsay

The Ride

The Ride

by Aric Davis

The Ride (A Short Story)

Thirty years hasn’t changed Las Vegas—the desert just got dirtier. The biggest game in town centers on a massive, deadly roller coaster that winds its way through the Strip’s most famous attractions. On the first Saturday of every month, twenty-four desperate passengers get strapped into the notorious ride and gamble with their lives in a twisted game of chance, to the thrill of webcast audiences worldwide. One of them will win, and one will die, but the other twenty-two will escape with nothing but their lives. Bets are placed as the ride begins, but in Vegas, the house always wins.

The Ride by acclaimed author Aric Davis is a terrifying near-future vision of bloodlust-as-entertainment taken to a horrific extreme.

Its a beautiful Friday and I cant think of a better afternoon to review a few short stories!  First up is Aric Davis’ The Ride.  I found this story on Amazon last week and was excited about the premise of a deadly rollercoaster ride acting as a game of chance.  So I REALLY wanted to love The Ride; really bad because I think the premise is brilliant.  It just wasn’t a homerun for me and I think that would have been different if the story had just been a tad bit longer.

The Ride provides a great description of what results from societal boredom and humanity’s desperate need for the next big thing.  Davis is great at describing the initial stress and desperation of getting on the ride and expressing the failings of human nature with the ride’s route.  But after that it just fell short for me.  I wanted more detail concerning the death on the ride, and yes that may seem morbid, but the point of this story is to show the morbid tendencies that push people to creating such an attraction.  This left the ending feeling rather abrupt.  It just happened and that was that.  I was hoping for more descriptions concerning the feelings of those experiencing that death and I also wanted to know what happened to Frank!

But all that aside;  I love Davis’ voice, his writing style, and I am looking forward to picking up some of his other work!  Its a good story and an interesting statement about modern (and futuristic) culture.  Who else is a fan of Aric Davis?

Lindsay