Picked up the Nov.-Dec. issue of The Strand Magazine last week and so completely enjoyed it that I bought myself a subscription online. (Also bought one for a friend for her birthday.) In addition to some terrific short stories, this issue has a previously unpublished John Steinbeck story, “With Your Wings”. Steinbeck wrote it sometime between 1943-44 for a radio broadcast of Ceiling Unlimited, hosted by Orson Welles, who read it on air. It may have been considered too controversial for print at the time. In addition to all the trademark Steinbeck characteristics — the plight of the socially and economically dispossessed, contemporary issues, ordinary characters, authentic portraits of a class of people — it achieves the goal of eloquently describing pride of family and community with actually saying very little. It is extremely poignant and profound.
Managing Editor Andrew Gulli offers his best 10 list for 2014 which includes Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck and Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. (I’m always interested in anything that has to do with a labyrinth, especially if it’s accurately describing a labyrinth and not a maze.) Another from his list that intrigues me is The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer.
A delightful offering from Alexander McCall Smith called “The Christmas Puzzle” begins by spoofing the British murder mystery and takes a surprising, double-edged twist at the end. Very cleverly done. There is also a Mike Hammer Story called “Fallout” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (begun by Spillane in the mid-1960s) and an interview with Chelsea Cain, author of several novels beginning with Heartsick (2007) which was the 1st of her Archie/Gretchen series. This past summer, she published the first in a new Kick Lannigan series called, One Kick.
There is a new Sherlock Holmes story written by Lyndsay Faye called, “The Disappearance of Mr. James Phillimore”. It is an easy read and retains all the Watson & Holmes characteristics fans have become accustomed to in their adventures. While I enjoyed it, I did find the solution rather transparent and maybe you will, too. Or, perhaps I’ve just read too many of the duo’s adventures.
One short story called “Peephole” by Andrew Crowley drew me in by talking about dreams (which seem to have been involved in a number of books I’ve read recently). However, the dreams turned out to be nightmares and it turned out to be more of a horror story than a mystery. It must have been very good because I read it right to the end and it’s not at all my cup of tea. (I just hope I’ll be able to sleep tonight.)
There are many publishers’ ads featuring new mysteries including a new Murder She Wrote called Death of a Blue Blood. Also featured are a number of reviews of new mystery novels and audio books that might make good Christmas presents. Check it out online or at your local bookseller’s.