Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: short mystery stories

This week’s mystery flash fiction

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Today’s crime flash fiction is perhaps striking the limits of how complex a story you can adequately tell in exactly 100 words. Wish I had maybe ten more, but nevertheless, it works.

Porsche-in-lot

One Jump Ahead of the Police

 Finally got a collar on that car theft ring?”

“Think so, lieutenant.  Suspect’s in interrogation.” 

“How’d you nab him, Burnside?”

“We staked out a stolen Porsche.  Thieves took it but parked it two miles away.  They do that when they think a car might have a LoJack tracking device.”

“They let it sit to see if we show up,” the lieutenant said ,  “then pick it up when they think it’s clear.”

 Burnside nodded.  “Smart, but we’re smarter.”

“Bad news,” said another detective entering Burnside’s office.  “Guy we arrested was homeless.  Got paid fifty bucks to drive it to another location.”

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Today’s crime flash fiction

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A fixed, 100-word length is a challenge. This story arrived in my head almost fully formed, but when I’d written it, I knew it could have only one title.

 

‘B’ Movie Plot

 Dashing off the curb, the teenager ripped open the car door and jumped into the passenger seat. He aimed a small caliber semi-automatic at the driver.

Al Marino was unperturbed.  “Jacking cars, kid?  That’s no way to make a living.  Know who I am?  I could use someone like you.”

“Pull around the corner,” the young man said.

“Sure, kid.” Marino turned the luxury sedan and stopped.   “You’re making a mistake.”

“No mistake. I ain’t no ‘jacker. This is for my sister you got hooked on smack. Now she’s a ’ho’.”

Marino thought the kid wouldn’t shoot.

He was wrong.

Noir-street-scene

Do you hate f***ing profanity in mystery novels?

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A thug the size of an NFL lineman grabs Sam Shamus around the neck and throws him down the stairs. The bad guy follows him, stomps on his face and tells him he’s a low-life private dick and if he ever shows up again he’ll get a real beating.

Somehow Sam manages to get to his feet. He glares at the crook and says, “Pardon me sir, but I object to the way you’re characterizing my profession. And I ask that you refrain from inflicting further physical indignities, you hooligan.”Profanity-balloon

That’s what Sam says, anyway. Your average detective-novel hero might use different words.

Sam’s situation—or a version of it—went through my mind when I started writing mystery short stories and later, my first mystery novel. Should I use profanity? My initial answer: no. We’re slammed with the f-word so often in crime movies that profanity loses its punch. But the more I wrote, and the more I thought about it, studiously avoiding profanity seemed unrealistic. What the hell was I to do?

Profanity in literature, a fascinating topic—particularly in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre—varies from author to author. But before we get into that, a few words about four-letter words. While I eventually decided in favor of what’s delicately called swear words in my fiction, I’m still a journalist when I’m writing articles online. My inner AP Stylebook doesn’t permit me to use words you won’t find in your daily paper. Therefore I’m going to resort to f*** and s*** for two words everyone knows. Bear with me.

Not long ago, someone writing on an Amazon discussion page asked about bad language. She wrote: “I am Continue Reading →

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