"This is the fifth book in a series of tales written by Florida Writers Association members. Though we call them short stories, not all are fiction. Some may be nonfiction and others snippets of memoir," said Su Gerheim, Coordinator for It's a Crime.
Gerheim opined about the intrinsic nature of writers. "Writing is a sharing experience, but it can also be a learning experience. When you write to a theme, it stretches you as a writer. That is the purpose of this contest: to stretch our writing skills by using a different theme each year. The entries were scary, cute, thrilling, sad, and some made me shiver, but all were worthy."
Michael Wiley is the author of Shamus Award-winning A Bad Night's Sleep (Wiley's Joseph Kozmarski hard-boiled mystery series), The Bad Kitty Lounge, and The Last Striptease. Taking time away from crime writing, Wiley took on the task as judge to select the top 10 of 60 winning entries about... Uh, crime. This review features those ten.
Bob Hart took top honor with 'Inheritance,' a comical crime tale about the survivor of suspicious family deaths, and a slip of the tongue when talking to a detective.
Catherine Giordano cooks up a spicy murder mystery with 'The End of a Marriage' that unfolds with a shocking dénouement.
Anu Varma Panchal's 'Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight' is a collection of related disturbing vignettes that seem to be from the dark side of a Stephen King killer character.
Michael Wiley's fourth favorite choice of 60 winning entries is Jane Ellen Freeman's 'Family Lies,' in which "None of our family's lies are the same." Seems three generations haven't learned to tell the truth once, and have to create a new lie for each tale.
Chris Hamilton's 'Last Summer' concerns down-on-his-luck Reg, a good ole boy who can't seem to catch a break. Reg trusts his heart, or rather, other body parts, and not his head. Too bad he hadn't learned the Russian proverb, "Doveryai no Proveryai" (Trust but Verify).
'Double Tap' by Wendy Blake Pottinger came in sixth place, a tale about a budding actress whose film role becomes reality--with deadly consequences.
Joan North's 'What's Wrong with Me?' doesn't concern crime, but a dysfunctional family and young Mike, a disturbed child likely to commit crimes as an adult.
In 'The Pumpkin Caper,' Dave Archard takes readers back to the simpler times of 1954, when petty criminals learned their lessons and confessed their crimes.
Only hinting at crime, Beda Kantarjian's 'Buried in the Backyard' has nosey neighbors conjecturing how Mr. Lufkin next door dug a grave-sized plot for a garden shortly after his wife vanished.
Lori Thatcher rounded out the top 10 with 'Tastes Like Flowers.' This touching story seems misplaced, only mentioning "it's a crime." The so-called crime is a caring nurse's aide who takes a neglected assisted living facility resident back to her home.
Each year Peppertree Press publishes FWA's anthology, following 2012's My Wheels featuring Julie Compton, author of Keep No Secrets. Mega-bestselling Mary Burton (The Seventh Victim and No Escape) launched another collection of 60 short stories at FWA's October 2013 conference, entitled THE FIRST STEP. It'll be exciting to learn what creative tales FWA members submit for judging by the "modern-day Queen of Romantic Suspense."
I loved the variety of interpretations of the theme "It's a Crime" in this year's collection. The stories are intriguing, many thought-provoking, and make for an easy read. Will make a great gift for the Holidays.