Although not every criminal is a monster, nor every monster a criminal, you might be forgiven for mistaking the two as you investigate the gritty underworld of supernatural crime. Join officers of the law, private eyes, firefighters, bodyguards, crime-scene cleaners, security specialists, and other not-so-everyday citizens as they struggle against the macabre machinationsAlthough not every criminal is a monster, nor every monster a criminal, you might be forgiven for mistaking the two as you investigate the gritty underworld of supernatural crime. Join officers of the law, private eyes, firefighters, bodyguards, crime-scene cleaners, security specialists, and other not-so-everyday citizens as they struggle against the macabre machinations of Mortis Operandi. Mortis Operandi features stories that revolve around the investigation of a crime and in which the supernatural plays a central role....more
I really enjoyed this. i won it through first reads. i am not usually a big fan of short stories however i enjoyed most of these stories. I was also pleasantly surprised to find an autograph by the author of one of my fav stories in this book. his take on demons was very interesting :D
The kickoff story for Mortis Operandi, "Some Favor Fire" is - in a word - fantastic. The heroine of the tale is a driven firefighter, Trudi, and the tale pivots around her efforts against a serial arsonist who lights two fires at the same time - a primary fire to take the attention of the firefighters, and a secondary fire that causes all the more suffering because of it. The supernatural element of the tale appears in the flames themselves - Trudi starts to see"Some Favor Fire" by Lane Robbins
The kickoff story for Mortis Operandi, "Some Favor Fire" is - in a word - fantastic. The heroine of the tale is a driven firefighter, Trudi, and the tale pivots around her efforts against a serial arsonist who lights two fires at the same time - a primary fire to take the attention of the firefighters, and a secondary fire that causes all the more suffering because of it. The supernatural element of the tale appears in the flames themselves - Trudi starts to see more in the fire than she should; but the last person to see the same thing is dead. Trudi's character is driven and on the edge, and I truly enjoyed the details of the firefighting.
"Krug's Pen" by Erik T. Johnson
A detective used to finding things on the odder side of normal is asked to ensure that a pen he is given is actually Krug's pen - a pen known for writing words that give paper flight. But a whole sub-culture has formed around these words, and tracing the pen back to its owner - who seems to have vanished - is going to be tougher than it seems.
I loved this story, with such a strange city, strange magic, and yet a wonderful sense of verisimilitude.
"The Doom that Came to Al Capone" by David Bernard
Spinning a dark tale that reaches all the way from the Miskatonic University Library to the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, "The Doom that Came to Al Capone" is a blending of gangster history and those horrors that live on the other side of darkness. A heavy in the employ of Capone is sent to figure out what's going on with an old man whose bookstore isn't kicking in to the protection racket, and the journey takes him to one of the iconic places of Lovecraft lore, and soon it isn't the usual fear of bullets or molotov cocktails that worry him.
The execution of the tale and the fallout has a lovely tone throughout. I liked this mix of homage and new story, and how well Bernard pulled it off.
"Memories, Freestyle" by Samantha Mills
Imagine a world where people could distil memories from your mind and then sell them to others. You could go sky-diving, for example, and then sell those memories to someone who wants to sky-dive, but can't quite get up the guts to do it (and repeat, ad nauseum, though you'd be losing your own memories of doing so time after time). But of course, the moment something is sellable, there are people willing to steal for a profit, and that's where the story begins - someone has stolen the memories of a former gold-medal Olympian freestyle swimmer, and left her a shell of her former self. The investigation is the tale, and this story had one of the best twists of the collection. Wonderful world building and a great - if grim - follow through on what would happen if memories could be bought and sold.
"All the Many Ways We Burn" by John Bowker
I love the set-up for this story: it is possible for someone to be dealt a "phoenix." Basically, during a game of cards, some prisoners in a prison yard witness such an event - the criminal RayRay is dealt a phoenix. If he can hang on to it for the duration of the slow build of flame, he will immolate and be reborn as a new person, with a new life - which means his time in the prison would be over.
But holding on to a second chance is hard enough when you deserve one. What about when you don't?
Great story with great writing and such a unique idea that I was really enraptured. Definitely a writer whose stories I need to go find.
"The Man in the Mirror" by Steven W. Alloway
This tale begins with a security specialist who has a rather particular quality to his name - he lost his reflection due to a rather dark bargain - and now he's got a knack for keeping things locked up and finding the holes in security. That's why he tried to convince his latest customer not to use the Sphinx (the actual Sphinx) as a guardian, and something has been stolen from beyond her gaze.
The how is one mystery; the what is another; and the ultimate solution from this reflectionless character is amusing and clever. Again, the world here is built so well in such a short amount of space. And hey - a Vegas heist? No way to resist that.
"Once a Chekist" by Leigh Kimmel
I'm going to admit I had to keep my laptop open so I could look up names and various words as I read this. This is no way a criticism of the story - I just have pretty pathetic understanding and awareness of a heck of a lot of history, and so I did a lot of work while I was reading this to try to catch up a little.
This story twists and turns in a world unfamiliar and warped from our own - a place where cloning has revitalized the Russian aristocracy and political system (and the various intrigues that come with politics). Add a heroine who doesn't know entirely where her loyalties lie, and you're in for a treat.
"Immaculate," by Christine Rains
I loved the notion behind this story - a crime scene cleaning company is brought in to handle a very ugly murder scene - which seems to be defying gravity and remaining on the ceiling the way it should have remained on the floor. The main character, Simone, is a woman who once worked with the police in a paranormal capacity, but now her job is clean up the gore and move on. Except this time, the cause of the gore might not let her.
Simone is a solid character, and the unfolding of what happened to move her from working with the police to working with the clean-up crew is just as intriguing as the mystery of the murder itself. Again, this story left me wondering if there were more tales in this world.
"The Trouble with Captain Justice," by Steve Chapman
In a city protected by a superhero, a former cop lives with the reality of the darker side. Not every crime is worthy of the attention of the super-strong paragon, but when the former cop is contacted by a grieving man over the disappearance of his daughter, he gets involved. Her death - an apparent suicide - sends him on a path that went somewhere really dark, and I enjoyed the journey.
Definitely a more modern take on what a city protected by a superhero might have as a dark side.
"Turnabout is Fair Play," by Jennifer Rachel Baumer
When a group of bridge-playing ladies are cajoled by one of their group to try dabbling a wee bit into the occult, Lily is fairly sure this is a waste of time. Besides, she's at a point in her life where - frankly - the dead aren't welcome. When an attempt at mediumship turns a bit sideways, something from beyond arrives to make a dire claim about one of the women gathered, and soon Lily is realizing that there's a lot to be said for letting the bodies stay buried.
But then again, it might be worthwhile to do just a bit of digging...
I loved the characters in this tale, and found myself grinning despite some of the darker moments.
"The Death Detective," by Resa Nelson
With one of the more quirky ideas among the many awesome paranormal crime stories found in Mortis Operandi is "The Death Detective." Resa Nelson introduces us to a whole organization devoted to determining whether or not someone is dead and just going through the motions of their life. Workers in jobs that leave them unfulfilled, for example, are often "dead." Some don't know it, some know it and try to hide from these detectives - because being dead means it's time to be moved on - forcefully, if necessary.
The story begins when the investigator realizes that a friend of his might be dead, and has his first real crisis of conscience. The story tips and twists, and I loved the idea behind the story as a whole: if there's no vitality in what you do, no joy in your day-to-day... well, how is that different from just existing? Or being dead?
"The Lady in Fur," by Allison Sakaida
There will likely always be a soft spot in my heart for the notion of the fox and its mythical connotations. I can't remember the first time I bumped into a paranormal book that introduced me to one of the various Japanese myths around foxes - I do recall that the main story was that of a a fox-woman taking the form of a woman in order to capture the affection of a man whom she'd fallen in love it, but that the real world was underneath the illusion, and things began to fall apart as the story progressed. The tales of kitsune and kitsunetsuki I read were lovely, and I remember seeking out more tales of Japanese mythology whenever I could.
Finding such a Japanese tone in a tale in Mortis Operandi, then, was a welcome surprise. The story itself is about the recovery of a stolen object of mystical import, and where the magic - and mythology - fits in was lovely, and just a little bit harsh and edgy.
"The Art of Dancing Naked," by Chuck Rothman
Oh how I loved this story. A cop who can talk to the spirits of the recently dead has - thanks to said gift - a particularly stellar record of closing murder investigations in the city. After all, most murder victims know their killers. That others don't know about this gift is one thing, but where this gift comes from, and what's different about her, is the real punch that gets this story going.
The most recent murder victim is an exotic dancer, and it doesn't take long for the cop to realize who the killer is. The problem is this is one murderer out there she's afraid to take down...
I'll be looking for more Rothman.
"Dead to Rights," by Rebecca Roque
The next story in Mortis Operandi is one of those stories that - I believe - is a first work published from the author. The world building here is incredibly well done (something it is quite difficult to do in short fiction), and sent me scrambling to see if there were more stories with these characters - there currently aren't, but I'm living in hope.
Basically, the tale is a group of variously gifted psychic investigators trying to figure out a string of bank robberies that are particularly difficult to untangle, and one lone woman - Lex, whose abilities work by touch - is in the right place at the right time to make some vital connections. Except, of course, in their line of work, the right place and the right time can often lead to puddles of blood, and much worse nightmares to come.
I'm a sucker for paranormal stories, so the whole collection is right up my alley, but this particular story made me sit up and take notice of an author I sure hope has more on the way.
"The Patron Saint of Walking Ghosts," by Michelle Scalise
This is the first anthology I'll have begun and ended reviewing during my Short Stories 365 project. Mortis Operandi was a real joy to read for me by virtue of the variety of themes the tales launched. And with this last story, "The Patron Saint of Walking Ghosts," the book closes on neither a bang nor a whimper, but something like a strangled scream.
An orphanage with a sordid history, a woman who has dreams of love that seem dipped in death, and a man who is visiting to find out about a past no one wants unburied. The combination twists into a lethal snarl, and it's Scalise's handling of the heroine's voice - a woman who is, at best, unstable - that keeps this tale pulled so taut. You know something horrible is coming, and yet you can't look away.
Kfir Luzzatto was born and raised in Italy, and moved to Israel as a teenager. He acquired the love for the English language from his father, a former U.S. soldier, a voracious reader and a prolific writer. Kfir has a PhD in chemical engineering and works as a patent attorney. He lives in Omer, Israel, with his full-time partner, Esther, their four children, Michal, Lilach, Tamar and Yonatan, andKfir Luzzatto was born and raised in Italy, and moved to Israel as a teenager. He acquired the love for the English language from his father, a former U.S. soldier, a voracious reader and a prolific writer. Kfir has a PhD in chemical engineering and works as a patent attorney. He lives in Omer, Israel, with his full-time partner, Esther, their four children, Michal, Lilach, Tamar and Yonatan, and the dog Elvis.
Kfir has published extensively in the professional and general press over the years. For almost four years he wrote a weekly "Patents" column in Globes (Israel’s financial newspaper). His non-fiction book, THE WORLD OF PATENTS, (a not-so-boring tale of what patents are about, in Hebrew) was published in 2002 by Globes Press. He is the author of several short stories but now mostly writes full-length fiction. His first novel, CROSSING THE MEADOW was published by Echelon Press (October 2003) and was voted "BEST HORROR NOVEL" in the 2003 Preditors & Editors Readers Poll.
Kfir is an HWA (Horror Writers Association) and ITW (International Thriller Writers) member and also served on the editorial board of The Harrow Press as Anthology Editor. His second novel, THE ODYSSEY GENE, was published by Echelon Press (July 2006) and was a finalist in the Indie Excellence 2007 Book Awards. He got the inspiration for his 2012 thriller, "THE EVELYN PROJECT", from an in-depth research into the family archives, and for his new thriller, 'EXTRALIFE, INC.", from his work as a patent attorney. You can visit Kfir’s web site and read his blog at www.kfirluzzatto.com. Follow him on Twitter (@KfirLuzzatto). ...more