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Blarney: 12 Tales of Lies, Crime & Mystery Paperback – May 15, 2012
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About the Author
Steve Hockensmith is the author of the New York Times bestseller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. He is also the author of several non-New York Times bestsellers, including the Nero Award finalist The Crack in the Lens, the Edgar, Shamus, Dilys and Anthony Award finalist Holmes on the Range, the Audie Award finalist Dreadfully Ever After and the not-nominated-for-anything-but still-quite-entertaining Dear Mr. Holmes and Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime. You can learn more about him, his books and his ego at stevehockensmith.com.
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Gathered together after being published in various magazines and anthologies (and being nominated for-- and winning-- awards along the way), these twelve tales run the gamut of emotions and situations. For me, the weakest of the lot was "Fred Menace, Commie for Hire" about a Communist private investigator. Menace certainly knows how to wisecrack his way through dangerous situations, but I've never been a fan of the Humphrey Bogart-style gumshoe. In "The Case of the Unfortunate Fortune Cookie" we learn why fortune cookies no longer contain real fortunes, and in "The MacGuffin Theft Case" there's a very amusing answer to why pizzas are round.
Ex-cop turned private investigator Larry Erie stars in six of the twelve stories. "Erie's Last Day" lets us see how Erie spends his last day before he retires from the police force, and succeeding stories show him in retirement and then some of the cases he gets when he's persuaded to become a P.I. Erie is a marvelous character, and I would love to see him in a full-length novel. (Come on, Steve-- geriatric sleuths are In!)
The best story of the lot-- the one that tugs at your heart and really revs up your brain cells-- is "Didn't Do Nothing" about an innocent young man caught in the middle of a Chicago drug war. I would tend to be suspicious of anyone who could read this and be unmoved by it.
Based on my reading his Homes on the Range historical mysteries and his short stories, Steve Hockensmith has rapidly become one of my favorite crime fiction authors. I never used to be a fan of short stories, but this man is almost single-handedly changing my mind. He just might change yours, too. Give him a try-- You don't need an eReader; this collection is in print, too!
One of Hockensmith's strengths is creating a character and then using him or her in several stories. This allows him to throw in more personal details than you'd see in a one-off. Not all of these stories use the same characters, but several involve a retired, widowed police detective who goes into business as a private eye at the prodding of his nosy neighbor. To see this fellow come out of his depression as he gets drawn into a case is really great, and it pulls the reader into the story.
Some of these stories are funnier than others, but the wildest by far is the Sherlock Holmes parody that has the Holmes character (named something else, I can't remember what right now) investigating a spy case during the Cold War. Holmes pastiches are one of Mr. Hockensmith's specialties, as you know if you've read his "Holmes on the Range" series (also highly recommended, by the way). Dear Mr. Holmes: Seven Holmes on the Range Mysteries He did a nice job on this one, with a soupcon of "Dr. Strangelove" thrown in to boot!
As an aside, I'd also recommend Hockensmith's Christmas crime stories; it's getting to be that time of year, after all. They are great.
Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime
With Hockensmith, it's all about the irony, cheap and otherwise. He's actually noticed that Chinese fortune cookies don't actually tell your fortune anymore, and built a story around it. Don't get me wrong--I enjoy escapist mind-candy as much as the next guy--but several of these stories are told with a deadpan and unmistakably middle American humor that just might make you think.
He also introduces Larry Erie, a retired cop/small town P.I. who deserves to star in a full length novel.
Most recent customer reviews
realized his talent as a contemporary crime scribe, and I'm glad I did.Read more