“Murder on Indiana Avenue” by Andrea Smith – selection #51 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♦J♦ Jack of Diamonds

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Diamonds is my suit for Stories by Contemporary Indiana Authors.

The Selection: “Murder on Indiana Avenue” from my copy of the short story anthology “Decades of Dirt” – a production of the Speed City Chapter of Sisters of Crime.

The Author: Andrea Smith (pictured above from a reading at Bookmamas Bookstore), an Indianapolis writer who was born in Chicago, and who I’ve read once before, in the “Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks” anthology.

img_6202What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up postlegacy project seal of approval 2For a look at my deck of cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. The 2016 iteration of Deal Me “IN” is also a “Legacy Project” officially endorsed by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission!

Murder on Indiana Avenue

“The yellow brick Walker Building was shaped like a slice of pie. Set on an angle right at the tip of Indiana Avenue, the four-story structure took up a huge chunk of the street.”

(image above found at stenzcorp.com)

Eve and Gabriel Dawson are a jazz musician/singer couple from Chicago, in town (Indianapolis) to perform at the Stardust Theater.  The club is run by a friend of theirs, Lester Sanders, and their appearance at his club is kind of a mutual favor for both parties. When they arrive, they awkwardly walk in on a confrontation between Lester and some unsavory types.  Their friend subsequently waves it off as nothing, but sure enough, later in the evening their performance is interrupted when the police swarm the club investigating a murder, and Lester is their prime suspect!

Eve and Gabe proceed to do some amateur detective work of their own, enlisting the aid of an attorney whose office is also in the Walker Building. A couple twists and turns later and they have their man.

I’ve never been a big reader of mysteries, so don’t feel that well qualified to rate them. I do think it must be incredibly hard to write an effective one in just about 20 pages, but the stories I’ve read from the two anthologies produced by the Speed City (Indianapolis) Chapter of “Sisters of Crime” seem to be able to pull this off.

What are some short story format mysteries that you have read? Any you’d care to recommend to me?  Deal Me In 2017 is just around the corner…

Other Stuff Bibliophilopolis has Been Up To…

Seems I’ve been so busy lately all I have time to blog about it is my weekly Deal Me In challenge. Rest assured, I’m still reading almost as much as ever and trying to support the local “literary community” by attending events, etc.  Below are a few brief notes on some of my other activities.

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I’ve formed a reading group at my office! You’ll not be surprised that the focus of the group is on shorter works that “can be read in an hour or less” (but not limited to short stories). We have several essays and other non-fiction on our virtual bookshelf. We’ve had three (monthly) meetings so far and have read Anton Chekhov’s “The Black Monk,” Philip K. Dick’s “Beyond the Door,” and Rudyard Kipling’s “The Brushwood Boy.” Two of those I’ve already read for prior iterations of Deal Me In, but it was still fun to revisit them and talk about them with another group of dedicated readers. We have ten people signed up but attendance had been. 6 (once) and 7 (twice). I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of our discussions and how much fun our meetings have been (we do meet in a bar, so that helps!) I created a “group” for us on goodreads.com too if you’d like to take a look or even follow our progress.

A friend who is in this new reading group also gave me a birthday present of Robert E. Howard’s “The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.” Yes, that Conan. Anyway, I’ve read the intro and a couple stories and have kind of pledged to start a “Cimmeria Sunday!” project and read my way through them. The first story I’ve read under this banner was “The Frost Giant’s Daughter” which, as it turned out, I really liked. This type of adventure fantasy is kind of genre broadening for me too, which I consider a good thing. I’ll keep everyone posted and maybe share a story or two if I get ambitious.

A couple weekends ago, I went to a couple local literary events. One was a launch party for a collection of poems by J.T. Whitehead, a local deputy attorney general/poet who is also the husband of the director of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library (which hosted the event) here in town. I enjoyed listening to his readings of selected poems from the book, which I also purchased a copy of (pictured above). The title of the collection is “Table of the Elements,” and the first section has poems titled with names of the elements, while the other section’s titles are compounds. What a great idea! In the Q & A That followed, I asked if the author was familiar with the Sam Keane Non fiction work “The Disappearing Spoon” (which I’ve mentioned on Bibliophilopois before)  he said “No, but funny you should ask…” as apparently other poets or writers have had similar ideas and one was suspicious of him wondering how he was stealing her ideas!

IMG_6174(above: poet J.T. Whitehead reading from “Table of the Elements” at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. I always think it must be a little unnerving for guests of the library to speak with a framed print of Vonnegut’s doodle of a sphincter right behind them! [photo by me])

Lastly, I went to another local author event, hosted by Bookmama’s Bookstore, whose owner(?)/manager(?), Kathleen, is a stalwart supporter of local and independent authors (in addition to Big Name Celebrity Authors – e.g., I met former Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian at her little store in Indianapolis’s Irvington neighborhood, and a million-selling historical fiction author (and Hoosier) James Alexander Thom). I’ve written before about her store and “underground” studio. This event, however, was to support the publication of “Decades of Dirt” by the Speed City chapter of Sisters in Crime, a mystery writers organization whose anthology “Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks” is part of my library AND I’ve featured a couple stories from it in this year’s Deal Me In, “More Than the Game” and “Fallen Idols“). I picked up a copy of their new effort and look forward to exploring it, especially with my 2016 focus on Indiana writers for the state’s Bicentennial.

IMG_6173(above: author Andrea Smith at Bookmama’s Bookstore, reading from her story in Decades of Dirt. [photo by me])

Bibliophilopolis has also made modest donations to help sponsor a couple local literary projects, helping to offset the expenses of one of the guests for the Banned Books week events at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, and to help fund (still 6 days left to donate if you’re interested!) an anthology of Indianapolis stories, “Mythic Indy.” More on both of these as we get closer to kickoff time. Not to mention that you may still buy the anthology we helped sponsor last year, “Indy Writes Books,” which includes a dozen stories that have been featured in this year’s Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge. More info on this one may be found at http://www.indyreads.org/indy-writes-books/

What interesting bookish activities have YOU been up to that you maybe haven’t had time to blog about?