Mystery Short Stories by Barbara Paul
short mysteries


catline catline
"Appetites"
"Archimedes and the Doughnuts"
"Auld Lang What?"
"Clean Sweep"
"Close, But No Cigar"
"Eleemosynary, My Dear Watson"
"Favor, The"
"French Asparagus"
"Golden Retriever"
"Go to the Devil"
"Ho Ho Ho"
"Homebodies"
"Jack Be Quick"
"Making Lemonade"
"Midnight Sun"
"Okay, Diogenes, You Can Stop
Looking -- We Found Him"

"Peanut Butter and Kelly"
"Play Nice"
"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Corpse"
"Reluctant Op, The"
"Scat"
"Secret President, The"
"Sic Transit Gloria"
"Sleuth of Christmas Past, The"
"Shakespeare Minus One"
"SpaceCat"
"Stet"
"Who What When Where Why"
Collection: Jack Be Quick and Other Crime Stories

The Favor "The Favor"

My first effort at writing crime fiction, published by a now-defunct magazine. (I am positive there's no connection between those two happenstances, ahem.) This story is based on a true incident in which two men, virtual strangers to each other, cooperate in a mutual-rescue mission that spans forty years.

Publication:

  • Mystery Monthly (July, 1976)
  • Jack Be Quick and Other Crime Stories, Five Star, 1999, ISBN 0-7862-1919-X


Appetites"Appetites"

This is a low-key story set in the very near future that shows the insidious effect of evil upon normally decent people. The three major characters are in the food-and-wine business, but everyone in the story is a slave to one kind of appetite or another.



Publication:

  • Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [as "Desperate Remedies"] (August, 1987)
  • Sisters in Crime III, edited by Marilyn Wallace, Berkley, 1990, ISBN 0-425-12214-X
  • Murder To Go, Dove Audio, 1992, ISBN 1-55800-843-8
  • Femmes and Fatalities, Dercum Audio, 1994, ISBN 1-55656-167-9


Archimedes "Archimedes and the Doughnuts"

This story appeared in the very first Cat Crimes anthology, before anyone knew the book was going to turn into a successful series. It's also the only story on which I've worked with a collaborator.

Gene DeWeese wrote the original story, trying to squeeze it into just 3000 words (impossible task) for some mag that really liked its short stories short. When Gene heard about Cat Crimes, he sent me three drafts he'd done of the story and said "See if you can do anything with this!" (I think he was sick of working on it.)

Since I was not under the same length restraints, I was able to add scenes and give the story the pacing it didn't have room for in its abbreviated version. Gene and I did some backing-and-forthing; and when we were both satisfied, "Archimedes" finally saw print.

Publication:

  • Cat Crimes, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Ed Gorman, Donald I. Fine, 1991, ISBN 1-55661-253-X
    • G. K. Hall, 1993, ISBN 0-816-15470-8
    • Book Sales, 1994, ISBN 1-555-21680-3
    • Ivy Books, 1997, ISBN 0-804-10979-6
    • DH Audio, 1998, ISBN 0-886-46463-3
  • Cat Crimes I, II, III, Fine Communications, 1998, ISBN 1-567-31278-0
  • Crafty Cat Crimes, edited by Stefan Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg, and Martin H. Greenberg, Barnes & Noble, 2000, ISBN 0-7607-1582-3


"Scat"

The story appears in the same anthology as "Archimedes", and it's one of the few things I've written that I'm satisfied with.

Daniel The word "scat" is used in every meaning I could find for it. The heroine is a scat singer who lives with a cat that hates her but won't scat even when she tells him to. The singer works in a dive where one of the other acts is a comedian who tells scatological jokes. And in the audience is a man who deals heroin (sometimes called "scat"). In the story, someone is murdered under circumstances in which all the "scat" elements come into play.

The cat in this story is a highly exaggerated version of one of my own cats -- a neurotic, chewed-upon, abandoned little animal named Daniel who was half-starved when he invited himself in to stay. Daniel took a full year to come to trust me. But he stayed with me for seventeen years, until he died of old age.

Publication:

  • Cat Crimes, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Ed Gorman, Donald I. Fine, 1991, ISBN 1-55661-253-X
    • G. K. Hall, 1993, ISBN 0-816-15470-8
    • Ivy Books, 1997, ISBN 0-804-10979-6
    • DH Audio, 1998, ISBN 0-88646-463-3
  • Jack Be Quick and Other Crime Stories, Five Star, 1999, ISBN 0-7862-1919-X


Lemonade "Making Lemonade"

This is the only short story in which series character Marian Larch appears (so far). I was working on You Have the Right To Remain Silent when Marilyn Wallace asked for an original story for her next Sisters in Crime anthology.  So I took the same setting and some of the same characters I was using in the novel and gave them an additional case to work on.

The story is about desperate people doing the best they can in intolerable situations. Unfortunately, one such person decides murder is the only possible way out. Marian Larch is torn in this one; her sympathies, for once, are with the guilty person instead of the victim.

Publication:

  • Sisters in Crime IV, edited by Marilyn Wallace, Berkley, 1991, ISBN 0-425-13074-6
  • The Best of Sisters in Crime, edited by Marilyn Wallace, Writer's Digest, 1998, ISBN 07621-0106-7
Read the story
online:
Download the story
as a ZIP file (16K):



Jack
"Jack Be Quick"

This longish story was written for an anthology of fictional solutions to real crimes; the writers were each asked to pick an unsolved mystery from the past and invent a solution. I chose Jack the Ripper.

My angle on this was something that struck me as significant about the Ripper's victims. They'd all started out as respectable wives and mothers (the youngest victim, though childless, was pregnant). And they'd all been either abandoned or kicked out by their husbands. Deprived of the only role they knew how to play, they all had to turn to prostitution in order to survive. Every one of them had the same life story. I do not think this was coincidence. The Ripper did not kill at random; he selected his victims.

My "solution" is totally imaginary; I have no idea who Jack the Ripper was. None of the usual suggested suspects seem valid candidates as far as I can see.

Publication:

  • Solved, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, Carroll & Graf, 1991,
    ISBN 0-88184-689-9
  • Jack Be Quick and Other Crime Stories, Five Star, 1999,
    ISBN 0-7862-1919-X
  • A Moment on the Edge, edited by Elizabeth George, HarperCollins, 2004
    ISBN 0-06-058821-7



Who What "Who What When Where Why"

"A beautiful 22-year old is found dead in her apartment," Ed Gorman told me. "That scene must appear somewhere in the story." As to the rest of the story -- the sky was the limit.

I wrote about an investigative reporter in the future, at a time when life has become dangerous for journalists. So instead of investigating in person, she uses simulacra -- remote-controlled robots indistinguishable from humans without special scanning equipment. The reporter owns two such simulacra; one is a beautiful 22-year-old female named Chickie, and the other is a vigorous young male named Jocko.

But then Chickie is found dead in her apartment, and Jocko is arrested for her murder...so the reporter must emerge from her cocoon to finger the real killer herself.

Publication:

  • Invitation to Murder, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, Dark Harvest, 1991, ISBN 0-913165-65-4



Homebodies "Homebodies"

Imagine a large family clan in which everybody is accident-prone...and I do mean everybody, from children to great-grandparents. A ready-made cover-up for murder, wouldn't you say?

The story is told from the point of view of a young man who meets his fiancée's family for the first time. Among all the crutches and neck braces and wrist splints, there is one lethal accident that he suspects may have been staged. But how to prove it to this careless bunch that looks upon the Emergency Room as a second home and has a standing account with a local undertaker?

Publication:

  • Malice Domestic, presented by Elizabeth Peters, Pocket Books, 1992,
    ISBN 0-671-73826-7
  • Das grosse Frauenkrimi-lesebuch, Goldmann, 1993, ISBN 3-442-41487-3
Read the story
online:
Download the story
as a ZIP file (16K):



No Cigar "Close, But No Cigar"

A Cat Crimes story. This one is set in Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., where a cat makes the same leap from Lincoln's box to the stage floor that John Wilkes Booth made...but who, catlike, trots away unharmed.

It's a human being who gets "harmed"; a member of a cast rehearsing a play is murdered. The director decides to play detective...but really isn't very good at it.

Publication:

  • Danger in D.C.: Cat Crimes in the Nation's Capital, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, Donald I. Fine, 1993, ISBN 2-55611-374-9
    • Ivy Books, 1994, ISBN 0-804-11225-8
    • Ivy Books, 1995, ISBN 0-804-11277-0
  • Cat Crimes I, II, III, Fine Communications, 1998, ISBN 1-567-31278-0
  • Crafty Cat Crimes, edited by Stefan Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg, and Martin H. Greenberg, Barnes & Noble, 2000, ISBN 0-7607-1582-3

Ho Ho Ho
"Ho Ho Ho"

An instructor in a Santa Claus school is strangled with a string of twinkling Christmas tree lights. The killer has to be one of thirteen jolly old elves, all wearing identical red suits and long white beards. Ho ho ho.




Publication:

  • Santa Clues, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Carol-Lynn Rossel Waugh, Signet, 1993, ISBN 0-451-17708-8
  • Jack Be Quick and Other Crime Stories, Five Star, 1999, ISBN 0-7862-1919-X


Play Nice "Play Nice"

I wrote this story for a Gorman and Greenberg anthology called Murder for Mother, to be released in time for the next Mother's Day. May I make it a science-fiction mystery? I asked. Sure, go ahead, I was told.

So that's what I did. The "mother" in my story is a mothership.

But then Ed Gorman called to say Marty Greenberg thought the story was too skiffy for mystery readers and was looking for a place in an SF anthology for it. Oh, no you don't! I cried. That story is not skiffy enough for SF readers.

So at that point I thought the story was dead. But my agent said: Print out another copy...I think I can sell it elsewhere. No you can't, sez I. Let me try, sez he. So I did, and he did, and Janet Hutchings at EQ had no problem with the SF elements at all. Don't you love a happy ending?

Publication:

  • Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (March 1994)
  • Jack Be Quick and Other Crime Stories, Five Star, 1999, ISBN 0-7862-1919-X


SpaceCat "SpaceCat"

Another Cat Crimes story. This time the cat is a studio cat who for the time being is living on a soundstage where a big F/X space opera is being shot. One of the movie's leads is murdered, and it's the cat who discovers the body.

The cat in this story is in fact one of my cats, Godfrey...the adventurous one, the one who's into everything, the one who makes friends with everybody. Even other animals like Godfrey. A real Hollywood personality.

Publication:

  • Feline & Famous: Cat Crimes Goes Hollywood, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, Donald I. Fine, 1994, ISBN 1-55611-406-2
    • Ivy Books, 1996, ISBN 0-804-11362-9


Okay, Diogenes "Okay, Diogenes, You Can Stop Looking --
  We Found Him"

The anthology theme is food and cooking...and each contributing writer was asked to provide a recipe related to the story. Well, I'd done the Julia Child thing years ago; but recently I've been spending as little time in the kitchen as possible. So I asked a GEnie buddy, Doug Brewer, for a recipe; he gave me one for Soused Chicken (beer marinade).

I'd had it in my head to write a story about an honest man whose attempt to do a decent thing involves him in a murder. So I made him an honest man who likes to cook. In fact, it's his purchase of fresh herbs for the Soused Chicken that gets him into the mess in the first place. The hero finds himself caught up with four other people, all of whom want to solve a murder before informing the police that one has taken place.

Publication:

  • Murder Most Delicious, edited by Ed Gorman & Martin H. Greenberg, Signet, 1995, ISBN 0-451-18987-9
  • Jack Be Quick and Other Crime Stories, Five Star, 1999, ISBN 0-7862-1919-X

Go to page 2.



catline


SF&F
SF&F
Catstuff home

Last updated 7 August 2004.