Lefty Nominees (Most humorous mystery published in 2007):
Donna Andrews, THE PENGUIN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
"Meg! Guess what I found in your basement?"
I looked up from the box I was unpacking to see Dad standing in the
basement doorway, his round face shining with excitement.
"A body?" An unlikely guess, but Dad was a big mystery
buff—perhaps if I amused him, he'd stop playing guessing games on
"Oh, rats—you already knew? Well, how soon will the police get
here? I need to move the penguins—we don't want them any more upset
than they already are."
He disappeared down the basement stairs without waiting for an answer. I
abandoned my unpacking to call after him.
"Dad? I was joking. Did you really find a body? And why are there
penguins in our basement? Dad!"
Read more at Donna Andrews' web site.
Don Bruns, STUFF TO DIE FOR
Jeffrey Cohen, SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED
Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.
—attributed to every dying English actor since Richard Burbage (1567-1619)
Young Frankenstein (1974) and Count Bubba, Down Home Vampire (last Friday)
The guy in Row S, seat 18 was dead, all right. There was no mistaking it. For one thing, he hadn't laughed once during the Blind Man scene in Young Frankenstein, which is indication enough that all brain function has ceased. For another, there was the whole staring-straight-ahead-and-not-breathing scenario, and the lack of a pulse, which was good enough to convince me.
"Were you the one who found him?" I asked Anthony (not Tony, mind you), the ticket taker/usher/projectionist. Anthony, a Cinema Studies major at Rutgers University, is nineteen years old, and a film geek from head to toe (sorry, Anthony, but it's true). He was wearing black jeans, a T-shirt with a picture of Martin Scorsese on it, and a puzzled expression that indicated he was wondering how to work this event into his next screenplay. Anthony shook his head.
"Sophie found him," he said, indicating our snack stand attendant/ticket seller/clean up girl, who was standing to one side, biting both her lips and ignoring her cell phone, which was playing a Killers song by way of ringing. Sophie was, in her own high-school junior way, freaked out. I considered gesturing her over, then realized she wanted to stay as far away from our non-respiring patron as possible, so I walked to her side instead.
"It's okay, Sophie," I told her. "Just tell me what happened."
Read more at Jeff Cohen's web site.
Jess Lourey, KNEE HIGH BY THE FOURTH OF JULY
It was the first Thursday in July, the hottest month in Minnesota. The thermometer was busting my hump at a moist 86 degrees, and it wasn't even 8 AM. The Channel 7 news, the only station that came in clearly at my double-wide in the woods, was predicting the hottest July in history. The humid, sticky weather made the whole state feel like a greenhouse, or the inside of someone's mouth. As a direct result, people who had to work were cranky, people on vacation were ecstatic, and crops were growing like a house on fire. Locals said that if the corn was knee high by the Fourth of July, it would be a bumper crop. We were two days shy of that date and the corn was already shoulder high on a grown man. That strangeness should have been a warning to us all.
I stepped out of the shower into the sauna of my bathroom, wrapped a towel around my wet hair, and crossed the house to flick on the TV. The droplets of water on my naked body felt deliciously cool against the heavy morning air.
A phone call while the sun is still pinking the horizon never bodes well, particularly for someone like me who was lucky enough to have been within two feet of one fake corpse and two real ones in as many months. I let down my hair and rubbed it, stirring up the spicy smell of rosemary ginger shampoo.
I tossed the towel over the back of a chair and reached for a pair of tattered jean shorts.
I threaded the button fly and reached for a midnight blue tank top with a built-in shelf bra to rein in the booblets.
RING. My answering machine clicked over, and whoever was calling hung up. Must not have been important. I unclenched my shoulder blades and went to brush my teeth. I squeezed out a pea-sized glop of Tom's of Maine cinnamon toothpaste, trickled a little water on it, and started scrubbing.
Shit. I ran through a list of people I knew who could be dead or hurt, of money I owed, of anyone who might be mad at me.
The sigh came from the bottom of my soul. I was gonna have to answer that phone. A few years ago, I could have ignored the sound, but the older I got, the less reliable my denial mechanism became. I wondered what other cruel tricks my thirties had in store for me. That simultaneous wrinkles-and-pimples one was my favorite so far.
Learn more about Jess at her web site.
Elaine Viets, MURDER WITH RESERVATIONS
The young couple looked like inept burglars sneaking through the lobby of Sybil's Full Moon Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. They were both dressed in black, which made them stand out against the white marble. At their wedding two days ago, they'd been slim, golden and graceful, trailing ribbons and rose petals through the hotel.
Now they moved with the awkward stiffness of amateur actors trying to look natural. The bride's black crop top exposed a midsection sliding from sexy to sloppy fat. The groom's black T-shirt and Bermudas failed the test for cool. They were boxy rather than baggy. He looked like a Grand Rapids priest on vacation.
The honeymooners avoided the brown plastic grocery bag swinging between them, carefully ignoring it as it bumped and scraped their legs. That screamed, "Look at me." They stashed the bag behind a potted palm while they waited for the elevator.
"Red alert," Sondra at the front desk said into her walkie-talkie. She was calling Denise, the head housekeeper. "The honeymoon couple just passed with a suspicious grocery bag. They're getting out on the third floor."
Read more at Elaine Viets's web site.
Logo by Mario Acevedo