Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Derringer Award Nominees

The Short Mystery Fiction Society nominees for the Derringer Awards for 2015. 
For Best Flash (Up to 1,000 words)
  • Joseph D'Agnese, "How Lil' Jimmie Beat the Big C" (Shotgun Honey, May 12, 2014)
  • Rob Hart, "Foodies" (Shotgun Honey, May 2, 2014)
  • Jed Power, "Sweet Smells" (Shotgun Honey, July 28, 2014)
  • Eryk Pruitt, "Knockout" (Out of the Gutter Online, August 31, 2014)
  • Travis Richardson, "Because" (Out of the Gutter Online, May 15, 2014)*
  • Melissa Yuan-Innes, "Because" (Fiction River: Crime, March 2014)*
*To offset any judging confusion this rare case of two stories with the same title may have caused, both stories were included as finalists.

For Best Short Story (1,001–4,000 words)
  • B.V. Lawson, "The Least of These" (Plan B Magazine, June 6, 2014))
  • William Burton McCormick, "Killing Sam Clemens" (Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #13, July 2014)
  • Britni Patterson, "The Bad Son" (Carolina Crimes: 19 Tales of Lust, Love, and Longing, March 2014)
  • Mary E. Stibal, "A Friend in Brown" (Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave, November 2014)
  • Cathi Stoler, "The Kaluki King of Queens" (Murder New York Style: Family Matters, August 2014)
For Best Long Story (4,001–8,000 words)
  • M.H. Callway, "The Ultimate Mystery" (World Enough and Crime, October 2014)
  • Angel Luis Colon, "Separation Anxiety" (All Due Respect #3, May 2014)
  • Hilary Davidson, "A Hopeless Case" (All Due Respect #4, September 2014)
  • James T. Shannon, "The Missing Money" (Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave, November 2014)
  • Cathy Wiley, "Dead Men Tell No Tales" (Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, October 2014)
For Best Novelette (8,001–20,000 words)
  • Doug Allyn, "Hitler's Dogs" (Fiction River: Crime, March 2014)
  • Vicki Delany, "Juba Good" (Orca Books Rapid Reads, April 2014)
  • Trey Dowell, "Infernal" (Untreed Reads, June 2014)
  • Richard Helms, "Busting Red Heads" (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2014)
  • Kris Nelscott, "The Monster in Our Midst" (Fiction River: Crime, March 2014)
   HT: Gerald So       

Cartoon of the Day: Pizza

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Double Indemnity: Guest post by Maggie King

Maggie King:
Double Indemnity: A Must-See Film for Crime Writers 

"I killed him for money and for a woman. I didn't get the money. And I didn't get the woman.”

You can almost feel sorry for Walter Neff, played to perfection by Fred McMurray in Double Indemnity (1944), my favorite movie of all time. After all, if you go to all the trouble of murdering your lover’s husband, shouldn’t you reap some of the benefits?

Double Indemnity is the ultimate film noir—it’s dark, steamy, loaded with atmosphere, and the characters are sleazy as all get out. In this story originally penned by James M. Cain and adapted for the silver screen by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler, discontented housewife Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) bewitches insurance salesman Walter Neff into killing her husband. Together, she promises, they will collect on a double indemnity insurance clause.

Phyllis is film noir’s classic conniving woman who lures a man whose brain went on hiatus the moment he laid eyes on her. Walter seems like a good guy, but he’s no match for the lovely and smoldering Phyllis. She doesn’t even seem good—she’s evil to the core. Since he’s only marginally good it’s child’s play for her to ensnare him in her web.

Double Indemnity is a must-see film for crime writers. The superb dialog with its emphasis on double entendres and provocative banter not only entertain but it moves the plot along. The use of light and shadow create a virtual underworld that emphasizes the unsavoriness of the characters and plot.

Writers are frequently advised to show, not tell. When it comes to sex scenes, the censorship of the day forced writers to follow this advice, allowing them to achieve higher levels of creativity. As in other movies of the time sex was left to the imagination using the suggestive dialog and longing looks.

But the film’s best lesson for writers is showing how easily someone can be led astray by promises of a lifetime of riches and passion.

After the murder, things go downhill. For one thing, Walter’s boss, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) is highly suspicious of Phyllis’s double indemnity claim and investigates it like a dog with ten bones. And Walter and Phyllis grow to distrust each other (big surprise there). By the time Walter realizes that murdering Mr. Dietrichson wasn’t such a good idea, it’s too late. But is he sorry that he killed the man? Or does he only regret that he’s left with nothing to show for his efforts beyond a bullet hole in his shoulder? Again, he says in his confession to Barton Keyes: “I killed him for money and for a woman. I didn't get the money. And I didn't get the woman.”

That’s Double Indemnity in a nutshell.

For photos of Double Indemnity’s film locations: 

For more info on Double Indemnity: 

Maggie King's debut mystery, Murder at the Book Group, is published by Simon and Schuster. She contributed the short story, "A Not So Genteel Murder," to the Sisters in Crime anthology Virginia is for Mysteries, published by Koehler Books.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. She did a stint as an administrator at the Kent-Valentine House in Richmond, Virginia, the setting for "A Not So Genteel Murder."