After a brief introduction to the anthology written by Pete Hautman, The Minnesota Crime Wave Presents: Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem and Malice from the land of Minnesota Nice opens with "This Old House" by Marilyn Victor. Esther spends her days in a nursing home while Justine spends her days deep in bitterness. When she visits Esther in the home their meetings are of the past, family secrets, and debts to be paid in this mystery where sibling rivalry follows to the grave.
"The Dark Under the Bed" by Richard A. Thompson tells the ultimately harrowing tale of a patient at VA Hospital trying to survive. Odysseus G. Boosalis, known as "Oddie" to all, is firmly convinced, for good reason, that sleeping under the bed is the only way to prevent them from making him disappear during the night. Something that has happened to others and it has to be stopped.
As everyone should intuitively know, it is a bad thing when the getaway car won't start. Sappo and Dwayne figure that out pretty fast in "Desperados" by Michael Allan Mallory. Getting away on foot with the money is going to be way harder than either one ever thought.
Being allergic to certain things means eating something can kill you in a manner of minutes. It does in "Death by Potato Salad" by Jess Lourey. How it happens is just a small part of this entertaining tale featuring Mrs. Berns, a church related weekend retreat, and her quest for some male companionship.
Poetry makes an appearance by way of two poems by Mary Logue. "Murder" considers the reverberations for survivors of murder while "Crossing" talks about writing and the ultimate journey we all face.
It took the creep fifteen years to come up with his extortion plot for past misdeeds. Now Margo and Jan have hatched a plan to deal with the problem in "An Age Old Solution" by Lori L. Lake. Both of them properly acting old is just one of the problems they will face in this tale.
William Kent Krueger comes next with his dark and compelling tale "Woman in Ice". Otto Krakauer did the only thing he could think of when he found the woman encased in ice. He drug with his mule the block of ice containing the woman to the village. He went right through and didn't stop until he got to the church. Fortunately, the priest has ideas on what to do as well as how to take care of his people.
"A Turn of the Card" by David Housewright features Mr. G. and his quest for truth. He isn't happy that others, including his wife, think he is having an affair. He isn't and having one is the last thing on his mind. But, they can't know the truth as what he is doing could easily get him killed.
Maren Nielsen is convinced her sister's ex-husband had a role in her sudden death. Harper is dead and Marin plans to prove he did it in "Overstuffed" by Ellen Hart. Even from beyond the grave Harper is still there for her.
The play is the thing in "The Butler Didn't" by Elizabeth Gunn. The butler, or more correctly, the guy playing the role of the butler in the play "The Importance of Being Earnest" is dead and he certainly didn't commit suicide. That makes everyone in the small production company a suspect where, because they are actors and actresses, being convincingly deceitful is an art form.
Howard T. Crandall is very particular and obsessed with routines in all aspects of his life. The fact that his sub shop is out of honey oat rolls on a Friday is just one sign things are going badly in "Iced" by Lois Greiman. Another one is that his boss wants to see him after lunch.
Adeline fears the dreaded mother-in-law visit in "Minnesota Iced" by Pat Dennis. It isn't just a simple visit. Apparently four time divorcee Dorothy Nordskov wants to move in for the winter months. Not just the rest of this winter, but for all winters to come. Something has to be done.
Finally a personal character favorite of mine, Sean No-Middle-Initial Sean, the diminutive detective makes an appearance. In "The Horse He Rode In On" by Carl Brookins the detective investigates the death of Mr. Tom Springfield. The councilmember rode out alone only to ride back in hours later dead and on a different horse.
Kate and Anna were friends since kindergarten when Kate rescued Anna from a bully. The years have passed in "Stone Arch Bridge" by Judith Yates Borger and now Kate has to rescue her again. One way or another she intends to do because Anna clearly needs help.
The disturbing "Blue-Eyed Mary" by Joel Arnold concludes the anthology. A long ago pregnancy, an adopted baby, and other family secrets are just some of the elements in this twisting and good tale.
Featuring 14 stories and two poems the fifteen authors here all work with the concept of Minnesota residents seen as being nice in a variety of ways. While the tales are nicely done the actions of the characters involved are rarely nice. Humor and romance are also often in short supply in this book where getting even or solving an ongoing potential problem is the order of the day.
As many characters in these stories find out, they are not the only one planning deceit and treachery. Agendas and motives abound in The Minnesota Crime Wave Presents: Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem, and Malice from the land of Minnesota Nice resulting in very good short story reading with often dark overtones.
Material supplied by author Carl Brookins in exchange for my objective review.