I am starting to believe we are in a new golden age of pulp and popular fiction. When such an outstanding collection of short stories can be published and down-loaded from the Net, what else am I to think? Dave Zelsterman made this collection free over a three day span and I was one of the lucky few to take advantage.
I’d first encountered his writings in a “Julius Kratz” story some time back. Mr. Julius Kratz is a suave private investigator who likes fine wine and food. He’s brilliant in getting to the solution of the mystery and finding the real killer. What makes the stories unique? They are narrated by Kratz’s personal assistant Archie, a sophisticated computer program who resides in a tie clasp. “One Angry Julius And Eleven Befuddled Jurors” has the hero trapped on a jury. Why is he angry? If the real killer isn’t revealed, Kratz will miss an exquisite dinner he’s been awaiting for months.
The next story, “Some People Deserve To Die” is a grim police procedural. An Indian immigrant is found murdered. Two police detectives interview everyone around him before one comes to a conclusion agreeing with the title.
“The Mentor” is about a young writer who is infatuated with an older crime novelist’s insight into the world of the syndicate. The older writer takes a liking to the younger man, with grim results. Sometimes it’s best to keep your distance from the source material.
“When Death Shines Bright” has a medical student staying in a small coastal town to get away from…something. By the end of the story we learn what he’s fleeing and why. But he’s not the only one in the same situation.
“Emma Sue” is a combination western story and thriller. A sheep rancher and his wife lose the ranch due to bad weather, bad luck, and bad banks. They need to get money to start another ranch and the wife, tiny Emma Sue, is willing to do anything to get it. A powerful conclusion had me thinking about this tale for a long time.
The author saves the best story, “A Hostage Situation”, for last. A bank is robbed. A band of lunatics keep everyone in it hostage when the police surround the place. But one of the hostages needs to be somewhere else. The bank robbers find out too late why he’s so frantic to get out.
This is an excellent collection and will have me looking for more works by Mr. Zeltserman in the future.