- Paperback: 152 pages
- Publisher: Wildside Press (April 14, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 147940554X
- ISBN-13: 978-1479405541
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#4,187,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #5364 in Mystery Anthologies (Books)
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Murder on Wheels Paperback – April 14, 2015
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I love mysteries of all types. Most of the stories are unusual and entertaining. This is a good introduction to writers I want to become familiar with.
With that out of the way, let’s proceed.
Murder on Wheels is a collection of eleven short stories presented by the Austin Mystery Writers, a group of mystery authors who meet to critique their writing. If Murder on Wheels is the end result of their critiques, then every writer should make it a point to join such a group.
The stories in the collection are written by eight authors who are very talented in painting scenes with a minimum of words and dialog that is realistic and makes the characters believable and three dimensional. There is something for everyone that is a fan of short mysteries. The tales run the gambit from lighthearted to dark mystery with the central theme of wheels running throughout.
A sampling of the stories:
Buon Viaggio by Laura Oles is a tale of the “family business” and what can happen when you let in outsiders that are more concerned with themselves than they are with the family. But of course, the family has a solution to that, now doesn’t it?
Dead Man on a School Bus by Earl Staggs is a great story of a cop asked to investigate the killing of a man on a school bus. The details remind him of a murder years before and when he connect the dots he’s left with a question that most people of honor ask themselves at least once in their lives.
Rota Fortunae by V.P. Chandler is one of the best in the bunch. It’s tie-in to the wheel theme is a tattoo on the back of one of the characters. The storytelling is first class and almost makes you smell the salt in the ocean spray mixed with the stench of despair for the crew of an eighteenth-century sailing ship.
Mome Rath, My Sweet by Gale Albright was the weakest of the group, but not because of poor writing or an unlikable story. Just to be clear, “weakest” in this context is a score of eight out of ten. Let me explain. This story uses Alice in Wonderland as the hook in a classic noir style story. The trouble is that the author tries to incorporate so many of the Alice in Wonderland trademarks, that the story seems to have been stretched and formed to allow the symbols to make an appearance. The story does include enough chuckles to make it an enjoyable read, but it just could have been trimmed just a little bit.
If you’re looking for a great collection of short mysteries, you should definitely give Murder on Wheels a read. You won’t be disappointed. One final note I wanted to mention. I received the paperback version of the collection. The book formatting was spot-on and very professional looking. Kudos to Wildside Press for their skills.
The stranger in town has quite the effect on people. While the men see him as trouble, that same quality is a serious attraction for the fairer sex. That is especially for Rosemary, a fifteen year old looking for a way out of her small town life. Whether or not Campbell Reed is the answer to her dreams is the question in “A Nice Set Of Wheels” by Kathy Waller.
Running moonshine has gone on for decades in the bottom lands of northeast Texas. In “Family Business” by Reavis Z. Wortham illegal liquor has paid the bills as well as caused a lot of problems and heartache. It is the business of the Caissen family and comes with a cost.
Fourteen year old stowaway Tim Brooks thought he would hide on the merchant ship until it arrived in port in Charleston. He picked the vessel Rota Fortunae to hide aboard and that was a serious mistake in this tale of the same name by V. P. Chandler. There is a secret in her hold and one that can’t be explained easily. Out of all the tales in the book this one of adventure, and the mystical was my personal favorite.
It is just after World War II in Hollywood as “Mome Rath, My Sweet” by Gale Albright begins. Private Investigator Grimm has a major problem as Joey Dormouse is dead and Grimm is being blamed. He should have known the woman billing herself as “Miss Wonderland” who claimed she wanted nothing more than her sister found would be nothing but trouble. After all, Mome Rath is the biggest gangster on the west coast and more famous in all the wrong ways than Al Capone.
The route from Knoxville to D. C. is usually simple enough. The bus is one of those jumbo buses that have two levels. People take the ride, look at the scenery, and have fun. A difficult passenger can change things in “The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round” by Kaye George.
As the rest of the family has repeatedly pointed out, Mary should have never married her Italian husband, Marco. Her family is Irish and there are cultural issues. Then there is his behavior and his insistence on joining the family business in “Buon Viaggio” by Laura Oles.
Faye and her husband, Fred, are at opposite sides in their marriage. He loves riding his bicycles and is all about fitness. He now even wants to go vegan. Faye understands they have grown older and would prefer they stay home together and be cool and comfortable in their house. In “Aporkalypse Now” by Gale Albright the situation is definitely not a bicycle built for two.
Family stress also takes a major role in “Have A Nice Trip” also by Kaye George. Prissy has a difficult, to say the least, mother-in-law named Abigail. While Prissy’s husband, Trey, is aware and agrees they should go on their long delayed honey moon, one wonders if he truly understands Prissy’s needs.
There is an old adage about how one should write what one knows. Early Staggs knows all about driving school buses. One hopes he does not truly know about dead men on school buses. In his story “Dead Man On A School Bus” being Police Chief in the suburb of Southlake was supposed to an easy gig after thirty years of hard work on the police force over in Fort Worth. The chief has seen a lot of dead bodies, but the one found early this morning on a school bus is a new experience.
It is not a good thing when one walks into the kitchen and finds elderly Mom stirring in ground glass in the lemon meringue pie filling. Something has to be done to make sure Mom does not get thrown into prison in “Hell On Wheels” by Kathy Walker. The family has to have a plan and that means they have to work together.
Billy Ray Bryant always has one thing going wrong or another and needs a favor from Red Clark. Such is the case in “Red’s White F-150 Blues” by Scott Montgomery. Billy needs to hide his truck in Red’s garage to keep it away from the local repo man, Jerry Coonts. Red has been married long enough to know that the coming argument with his wife Britney over hiding the truck will be shorter if the dead is already done before she gets home.
A two page biography of each author brings the book to a close.
Slipping back and forth in time and set in various locations in Texas and elsewhere the eleven tales in this book are all good ones. Some are more adventure orientated than straight mystery and at least a couple are very noir like in their situations. Murder On Wheels: Eleven Tales Of Crime On The Move is a solidly good anthology from eight talented authors and one that is well worth your time.
Material supplied by the publisher some time ago in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2016