Crime Writers in Shorts

Ha! We know you were hoping for pictures of our knobby knees, but they are mostly hidden beneath our desks. This post is really about short story collections, either compilations of our own work or collections in which we have stories. Perhaps even some comments on collections we are reading. Do you read short stories? A lot of people tell us that they don’t, but short stories are a wonderful way for us to hone our craft, and you to get a snapshot of the kind of writing we do. They’re also great for carrying with you to read while waiting for the child at sports practice, or your doctor, dentist or during other perpetually delayed life events. NOTE, however, much as we love to be read, please don’t read at traffic lights.

Kate Flora: I am extremely excited to be included in a wild and crazy anthology that is a homage to the Obama era, called: The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir 

My story is called “Michelle in Hot Water.” You’ll have to read it to find out why. It is quite a departure from most of the other crime stories that I’ve written, and was tremendously fun to write. It’s also exciting to be in the company of writers like Gary Phillips and Walter Mosley.

I just learned that my story is the first one in the collection. Don’t know if this means I’m the band that opens for the main act, or if hooking the reader falls on my shoulders. I guess you’ll have to read it and decide for yourselves.


Kathy Lynn Emerson: I’ve had a pretty good year in short stories. Not only did I have stories in the Level Best’s Windward and Malice Domestic’s Mystery Most Historical anthologies, I also had a collection of my stories published by Wildside Press as Different Times, Different Crimes. You can find it at This is my second collection of short stories. The first was Murders and Other Confusions, published by Crippen & Landru back in 2004. That one included only stories related to my Face Down series, set in sixteenth century England. This new one has stories from many eras, starting with medieval times in “The Reiving of Bonville Keep” (originally published in the Murder Most Medieval anthology) and going right up to the present with two previously unpublished stories (“Calendar Gal” and “Death in the Dealer Room”) featuring Valentine Veilleux, a character spun off from The Scottie Barked at Midnight. One advantage of putting together a collection of my own stories is that it can be a combination of previously published short stories and stories that were never able to find a home. In Different Crimes, Different Times, ten of the stories have been in print before, five of them in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and three are seeing print for the first time. The third of those is set in 1888 and features a minor character from my Diana Spaulding Mystery Quartet in “The Curse of the Vampire’s Ghost.” All this is quite miraculous to me, since it usually takes me as long to write a short story as it does to write an entire novel. The record is held by “The Boston Post Cane.” The first version was written in 1987. It didn’t make the cut for Level Best’s Red Dawn, but I tried again the next year and it was accepted for Windward. It is also in Different Times, Different Crimes. In this version, the protagonist, in 2015, is telling the story of events that took place in 1987.

Joseph Souza: Ha! Short stuff. Strawberry books decided to publish this crazy little book of shorts. As you can tell from the cover, the opening short story, which is actually a long short story, is about a crazy bunch of tornado chasers. But you’ll be surprised what they’re really searching for. If you like Kurt Vonnegut or George Saunders, you’ll most likely enjoy the story Fujita’s Itch”. The second story is a crime tale called “The Stone Walls of Lebanon” and it received runner-up for The Al Blanchard Award at Crime Bake. It’s tells of two mobsters who travel from New York to New Hampshire in order to take apart and steal a historic old stone wall for a corrupt Wall Street executive. Seems this wall has quite a murderous past. The third story takes place during a terrorist attack. A young couple honeymooning in England have been quarantined during a chemical attack that turns the male population gay. Needless to say, the two struggle to consummate their marriage under the considerable weight of the attack, and because of that their true differences emerge.  Check it out if you’re looking for something funny and completely different. And don’t forget to order THE NEIGHBOR, my twisty domestic thriller that comes out April 24th, 2018.


Bruce Robert Coffin: I will admit that I haven’t had as much time as I would like to continue crafting short stories, although I keep squirreling away ideas for the future. My most recent published short was a devilish little tale titled Bygones. It appears in the Level Best Anthology Busted: Arresting Stories from the Beat. Busted is a great collection containing stories from many of my accomplished writing friends. Be sure to check it out!


Maureen Milliken: I don’t write short stories (too hard!) but I do read them. Actually, I’ve been heard to say that I don’t enjoy reading them because they’re too short. But, I actually do enjoy reading them.

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” is my all-time favorite short story. Would love to credit this photo, but can’t find the source.

As an English major at Holy Cross, I took a course, “American Short Story,” which spurred by love of Flannery O’Connor. She wrote my all-time favorite short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” It’s a classic, not only for those who love crime (creepy serial killer The Misfit!), but for those who love literature.

If you haven’t read “A Good Man is Hard to Find” you’re missing out. Among other things, it has one of the best closing quotes in all of literature. Do yourself a huge favor and read it, or better yet, listen to Flannery O’Connor reading it, which can easily be found online.

I’m also a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe, the patron writer of all of us mystery writers.

Which is not to say I don’t also read my colleagues’ short stories! I enjoy them, too and look forward to checking out all the new offerings in this post!

Barb: I haven’t written many short stories lately because I’ve been writing the Maine Clambake Mysteries, but this year “Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody,” was published in Noir at the Salad Bar, a new book from the new editors at Level Best Books. It introduces a new character and setting for me. More on that to come!

For my money, the best mystery short story is “The Woman in the Wardrobe,” by Robert Barnard from Death of a Salesperson and Other Untimely Events. My favorite literary short story is “The Horseman,” by Richard Russo, because it is perfect. It’s recently been re-released in Trajectory, a collection of four of Russo’s long shorts. Plus anything at all by Alice Munro.

John: I’m in two this summer. My story “With Great Relish” is in Noir at the Salad Bar, while I have a dandy one called “Relatively Annoying” in Day of the Dark-Stories of Eclipse edited by Kaye George.

And if you are the type of reader who likes goodies…leave us a comment and some lucky sort will win an arc of The Obama Inheritance. So keep those cards and letters coming, crime fans.



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7 Responses to Crime Writers in Shorts

  1. Lea Wait says:

    I don’t write short stories –or even read them most of the time. You all convinced me I’m missing out. Thanks for all the recommendations!

  2. Gram says:

    I just went to my library in search of these short story collections.

  3. Ruth Nixon says:

    I just downloaded Noir at the Salad Bar and will also get The Obama Inhiritance when it cones out. Love short stories.

  4. Lee says:

    I took notes as I read this post. I’ll be looking for many of these!

  5. Julie says:

    I’m saving this post for reference when next I shop Amazon!

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