Book Review: The Silence of the Loons edited by The Minnesota Crime Wave
The long-time reader may by now have realized that I have something of a weakness for anthologies. Collections of short fiction are an excellent use of limited lunch reading time. And I am also a faithful son of Minnesota. So this book of short mystery genre stories hits several of my buttons.
Perhaps it is our long, cold, dark winters that inspire thoughts of murder and mayhem, but Minnesota has a bunch of mystery-genre writers, thirteen of whom wrote stories set in the Land of the 10,000 Lakes for this volume. They were also instructed to choose from a short list of clues. It will become very evident by oh say the third story which clues those are. Some uses are quite clever, others are forced.
My favorite story is “The Gates” by Judith Guest, which isn’t really in the mystery genre as such, edging more into horror–but explaining why would spoil the surprise.
The first story in the volume is “Holiday Murder at Harmony Place” by M.D. Lake, which takes place in a senior citizen apartment building only a few blocks from where I live. This familiarity gives it a great sense of place; the story itself is a “cozy” with a resident of the building investigating the death of a particularly obnoxious neighbor. The detective work is clever, but fallible, appropriate for amateurs. (A lot of the stories involve senior citizens; Minnesotans tend to live a long time.)
Finishing the book is “Jake” by Pat Dennis. A man has quickly tired of his new bride, who is not at all as she presented herself on the internet. He decides that murder is the best solution, but may have underestimated just how much she lied.
And ten more stories, including “Norwegian Noir” by Ellen Hart, a cautionary tale of a small town woman moving up to the big city suburbs; who can she trust?
While this book is calculated to appeal most to Minnesotans, I think it will please most mystery story fans who enjoy a little dry humor with their murder. Consider purchasing it directly from Nodin Press.