Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mystery Novella and Short Stories, from James Grippando and Jim Fusilli

There are seasons when shorter crime fiction is a perfect fit for the days and evenings. I was glad to discover James Grippando's new work, THE PENNY JUMPER. About 140 pages of the book is a novella, "The Penny Jumper," a provocative and highly suspenseful tale of how a brilliant software developer finds her life highjacked -- and her freedom threatened.

Ainsley Grace tuned her coding skills in astronomy, following her father's passion for exploring the night sky through giant telescopes and their programming. But when her programming tackled the fine units of time difference that show up in the light from distant galaxies, it also had applications to a form of stock-market trading called penny jumping. What happens once Ainsley solves the market application is downright terrifying, and totally convincing. This one's a real nail-biter.

Two stories and a reflection by the author on his long-time pet follow the novella -- all enjoyable, and giving good evidence for how a notion or puzzle becomes transformed into a good piece of writing. The book just released in hardcover from Nightstand Press, and Grippando is a former trial lawyer turned best-selling author (The Pardon was his debut novel in 1994).

CRIME PLUS MUSIC, edited and contributed to by crime fiction author Jim Fusilli, ties together 20 stories where music takes a starring role in vicious attacks or criminals. Jazz, rock, blues ... the stories not only twist suspense and puzzle solving, but they also showcase their authors' musical passions, some of which are already familiar to their readers -- like that of Craig Johnson of Longmire note. I especially liked Peter Blauner's clever contribution as the first story of the group, "The Last Temptation of Frankie Lymon." It was also enticing to search for the pieces by Reed Farrel Coleman, Val McDermid, Peter Robinson, David Corbett, David Liss, even Zoƫ Sharp, as well as authors whose writing isn't as familiar to me.

This collection comes from Three Rooms Press, and could make a dandy Halloween hostess gift (to yourself or your host). As Fusilli writes in his introduction, "You are warned: Songs familiar and not so will be brought to mind, yes, but there will be blood."

Both of these are good candidates for the shelf of short crime fiction, as well as for completing a collection of works of any of the outstanding authors involved.

PS: Looking for more mystery reviews, from cozy to very dark? Browse the Kingdom Books mysteries review blog here.


James said...

Thank you for the kind words about The Penny Jumper. After 24 novels, it's my first attempt at a novella, and I'm very pleased that readers are enjoying it. We may have to bring Ainsley Grace back for another adventure.

Beth Kanell said...

I would certainly like to follow more adventures with Ainsley Grace!