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August 02, 2012


J Steven York

Though I've been reading mystery novels practically forever, I only started reading mystery short fiction regularly a year or two ago, when I subscribed to Hitchcock's and Ellery Queen on my Kindle. I've got to say, I'm really enjoying it. There's been a lot more variety than I'd expected, and I've read a lot of excellent stories.

Okay, just off-the-cuff, a few things I like about reading short-stories, for the uninitiated:

1. A chance to discover new writers I'd otherwise have never have heard of.

2. A chance to read writers I already enjoy in novels doing something different (occasionally wildly different), and often discovering that I enjoy that aspect of their work too.

3. A chance to enjoy different kinds of mystery/crime stories that wouldn't work in novel length. I've long suspected that novels aren't really the natural length for a lot of mystery stories, and that many are padded to length. I find myself getting increasingly annoyed when, as the detective closes in, the real killer starts killing off the other suspects one-by-one in a clumsy and ineffectual effort to hide their identity, when the most reasonable thing to do would simply be to cut their losses and run like hell. Short stories, by necessity, trim the fat, and can be much more satisfying for it.

4. A chance to read favored novel characters in different kinds of stories. Quite a few writers do this, write short stories with their novel characters. Some will even write stories featuring secondary characters who get a rare chance to shine, or that look at their detectives from unusual viewpoints you'd never seen in a novel. Some will also use short stories as a way of filling in background.

In other words, if you haven't tried the mystery magazines, give it a go. And I know they can be hard to find on newsstands these days, so electronic versions are a handy way to sample them and decide if they're worth subscribing to.


I'm with you, short stories are sorely missing from the scene, partially, I think, because it can be tough to tell a riviting story when hampered by space contrictions, and few can do it well.

But when it works, its awesome! (partially, I think, because it forces the writer to trim out all the gas-baggy muck...)

Can't wait to read your new stuff!

Owen Garratt

Esri Allbritten

I love your short stories. Am reading Dear Mr. Holmes right now - great stuff.

I took at look at your link to Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. My whole family used to watch that show, riveted, and now it looks so cheesy and set-up, with hardly a shot containing both the guys and the animals. Good times...


Excellent points, Steve. I have to admit -- for a guy who writes and occasionally bloviates about short fiction, I don't *read* it nearly as much as I should. A new vow: the next thing I grab off my TBR pile will be a collection, an anthology or a fiction magazine.

Thanks for the big thumbs up, Owen! That thumbs up in your pic is just for me, right?

And thanks for picking up (and publicly endorsing) Dear Mr. Holmes, Esri! I only watched a few minutes of the Wild Kingdom footage, but I'm with you: staged staged staged. But, oh, the fond memories I have of gathering with the family on Sunday night to eat Old El Paso tacos and watch that show. In my memory, it always came on right before The Wonderful World of Disney...In Color! (I know. I'm old.)

Esri Allbritten


J Steven York

I used to watch the show every Sunday too, and in my teens, I did a passing good Marlin Perkins imitation, and my stock line was always, "While Jim wrestles the deadly anaconda in the swamp, I watch from the helicopter through powerful binoculars..."

Bill Dunning

Yo, Steve!

I've been following Big Red and Old Red ever since Holmes on the Range appeared, and lonving every page. I just received The AA..., Dear Mr. Holmes & Naughty from Jeff Bezos & the Amazons (awesome chicks!) and I'm diving right in. I sorts pride myself on amassing complete Canons of stuff, so I'm now hunting the Jan'19 EQ for that Christmas Story (evidently available only there, as per good publication practice, and more power to 'em).
Now I'm sleuthing after "Expense Report: El Paso" so as not to miss a single syllable of Big Red's masterpieces. It doesn't seem to be on line, and I'm not the type to hack into your computer and swipe it. As you said, "We'll see if that ever changes...." So, I'll immerse myself and hang in there to see what Santa Steve might decide to do about that one.

Wishing you literary lights, seasonal scribblings and fictional fruitcakes of the season ...............

Bill Dunning
Santa Fe, NM (yeah, really in the actual New Mexico, man!)


Hey, Bill! I and Jeff Bezos (and the awesome Amazons) thank you for buying the books. Hope you dig 'em! I haven't decided what to do with "Expense Report: El Paso" yet. It's an odd story -- a huge change of pace from the usual "Holmes on the Range" tale. So it actually isn't a good fit for Ellery Queen or even another "Dear Mr. Holmes"-style collection (should I ever do one). I'm sure it'll make it's way into the world in English one of these days, though, so please don't hack me to get it!

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