The fall promises to be hot for the Mesdames! Mme Melodie Campbell, our Queen of Comedy, has just announced her new book, Worst Date Ever! Just looking at the rogues gallery on the cover will make you dial 911 for help but failing that you can pre-order it from Amazon. Worst Date Ever launches soon so check Mesdames on the Move for September for details.
And mark your calendars: on Labour Day weekend you can meet Melodie in person at the Women Killing It event in Picton ON. Check the FB page here for details. Again more details in our September newsletter.
Here is Part 2 of the preview of the stories in our upcoming anthology, 13 Claws.
Snake Oil by M. H. Callway
Madeleine H. Callway writes crime fiction novels, novellas and short stories. Her work has won or been short-listed for numerous awards, including the Derringer and the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel award.
In her noir novella, “Snake Oil”, a real estate intern with a fear of snakes learns how vulnerable a lone woman can be in a stranger’s house.
“I—I was bitten by a snake.” Bella could barely get the words out. The memory charged at her in irregular flashes, like crumpled black-and-white photographs. “I walking on the beach by our cottage. I felt something sharp. Like I’d stepped on a piece of glass.”
She felt Amelia’s slanted eyes on her like a pressure. She must stop talking, she was being horribly unprofessional, but she couldn’t stop the eruption of her words any more than she could stop the winter wind pummeling her car. “Robert, my stepson, wanted to take me to the hospital. Barry, my ex, thought it was nothing. That I was overreacting . He said I’d stepped on a garter snake, but when it…when it rustled away in the leaves, it looked much bigger. And it had black spots, not stripes.”
“But you’re still here, Bella, alive and healthy.”
Bella’s words stormed out with the rush of remembering. “My leg swelled up. The pain was excruciating. Robert took me to the hospital. Barry wouldn’t…he didn’t believe me.” She took a deep, shuddering breath. “I’d stepped on a Massasauga rattler. The doctors had to inject me with antivenom. They had a hard time finding enough of the antidote, because poisonous snake bites are so rare in Ontario. Antivenom goes off if it’s stored too long. I—I nearly lost my leg.”
“Sounds like your divorce was a good idea,” Amelia said after a time. “Feel better for sharing?”
Dog Trap and The Coffee Tin, both by Melodie Campbell
Melodie Campbell is a master of flash fiction with many awards to her credit, including the Arthur Ellis and Derringer. She is the author of the hilarious Goddaughter series of crime novels. Though she’s our reigning Queen of Comedy, her two stories in 13 Claws, “Dog Trap” and “The Coffee Tin”, have a darker edge.
In “Dog Trap”, a lonely man worries about the friend he met on an internet dating site and in “The Coffee Tin”, a homeless teenager finds a companion and maybe a friend…
From “Dog Trap”:
It wasn’t her.
Rick knew it now, scrolling through email messages, stopping on the last one. The words were there, purportedly from her, but written by someone else. Now he was certain. The trap had been set, and he had proof.
He slumped back in the worn gray swivel chair to think. And mourn. On the floor beside him, the small golden retriever puppy whimpered in sympathy.
More than a week ago, suspicion had set in. How could he explain it? A different use of words…not something you could explain to anyone else. But somehow, it seemed forced. It wasn’t right.
From “The Coffee Tin”:
Jess walked over to the dog and lowered the cup to his level. “Drink this,” she said.
The little dog moved forward with caution, and began to lap frantically. Jess had to keep tipping the cup as the water level went down.
She tried to recall his name. Something cutesy, she remembered. Muffy? No, that was the Maltese in the corner house.
She thought back to the old woman. What name had she yelled from the top of the stairs? Lucky! That was it.
Well little guy, you haven’t been lucky for either of us.
Blood and Apricots and Mad Dog and the Sea Lion, both by Lisa De Nikolits
Lisa De Nikolits is the award-winning author of seven novels that explore crime, religion, psychotherapy and relationship challenges. She is a master of noir crime fiction.
In “Blood and Apricots”, a family adopts a dog with a dark provenance and in “Mad Dog and the Sea Lion”, two sisters plot to take down a ruthless crime boss.
From “Blood and Apricots”:
“What do you think happened?” my mother asked in a low voice.
She pressed the lighter into the dashboard, waited for a few seconds, lit a cigarette and passed it to my father. Then she lit one for herself and inhaled deeply.
“His breath stinks,” I said, shifting away from the dog who was sharing the backseat of the Volkswagen Beetle with me and my sister.
My sister put her arm around the dog. “I love him.” She drew him closer, and I moved as far away from both of them as I could.
My father looked grim. The skin across his beautiful hands was stretched tight, and he gripped the steering wheel as if it might get away from him. He didn’t say anything, just smoked now and then.
And from “Mad Dog and the Sea Lion”:
He paused to take a breath. “The whole Esposito family was hoods. The father had done time, the third brother was in prison, the two sisters were thieves. But the mother was behind the whole thing. Mothers. The root of all evil, if you ask me.”
He fell silent and turned to look at Mad Dog Esposito again. I thought I had lost him, and I struggled to think of something to say. I panicked. Things had seemed to be going really well, but now they had come to a grinding halt. My sister had given me a bunch of lines to use but I couldn’t remember any of them. My mind was a complete blank, and I felt close to tears. I was going to ruin this before it even started.
See you in September, Readers!