Cons, Dames, and G-Men
An Anthology Celebrating the Golden Age of Crime
Stab in the Dark Crime Writers Circle
I grew up reading crime stories and watching crime movies. I don’t mean the kind of crime tales you can get now. I’m talking about the gritty crime of the thirties through the early fifties. My father introduced me to the genre and I was immediately hooked. Back then people didn’t give a lot of thought to what was appropriate for children. So, I was one of the last few lucky kids who got a taste of the dark world of gangsters taking out speakeasies with Tommy guns, good cops going bad over sexy women, and bad cops struggling to be good guys because of straight-laced ladies.
When the opportunity to write a short story for an anthology built around the golden age of crime, I immediately knew I was in. To give you a taste of what the seven authors of these fine stories are offering, I have chosen to review each story, except of course my own.
Today’s story is 100 Miles to Murder by Matthew L. Schoonover
Author Matthew L. Schoonover wastes no time getting into the tale with his short story, “100 Miles to Murder”. The reader is immediately faced with the headless dead body of the victim when Detective Amado Diaz is sent to investigate. As Diaz relates the details he has managed to garner from reports of witnesses, it becomes clear this is no ordinary murder for his senior partner, seasoned Detective Paul Mason, either.
The body belonged to Dr. David Zimmerman, who was on his way to meet two colleagues to go hunting. When Zimmerman didn’t arrive at the lodge owned by one of the doctors, Dr. Barton and Dr. Carlisle set out to look for him. When they found the body, they called the police using Barton’s mobile phone. This is a nice touch; the addition of modern technology at a time when that advanced means of communication was virtually unheard of does a great deal to indicate the wealth and pretension of the doctor.
As the investigation begins, Schoonover lays out his clues in a slow and methodical fashion, complimenting the style of the genre. Incorporating the language and culture of the time and locale, the author adds an identifying flavor to the tale. Using items as simple as Band-Aids, the reader is carried back to a time when these things were new. A gas station attendant at the local Esso station wore a uniform “minus his captain-style cap”, something long out of style. The occasional use of Spanish as local people give their statements is a neat addition. These brilliant touches add a realism to the story that transports the reader to a different time and place.
The late doctor’s wife, Adelle, is described as a “blonde” bombshell. She shamelessly refers to herself as a “trophy wife”. While denying her guilt in the murder, she describes her late husband as being “upset” and states he did not trust his colleagues. She reveals there were some “money problems” with their shared pedatric practice and her husband was concerned about it.
One of the suspects, Alicia Hinojosa, had been employed by Dr. and Mrs. Barton. She had recently been let go by Mrs. Barton because she felt the attractive, young Mexican woman was a temptation to Dr. Zimmerman. Mrs. Barton had good instincts because on the day of his murder Dr. Zimmerman had given the sultry Hinojosa a ride in his car and attempted to sexually assault her. She admitted to scratching him and her history of arrests for violent behavior make her a suspect.
The clues and suspects multiply and the interaction between the investigating detectives leads the reader along the path to a solution. It is the simple connection of clues by Detective Mason that solves the crime. This is a clever detective tale any reader of mystery will enjoy.