Kevin A. Lyons


A friend once told Kevin A. Lyons that he has a “writer’s biography.”

He was born in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, in New York City. His family moved to New Jersey while he was still an infant, and he grew up in the suburbs near Revolutionary War battlefields, the Great Swamp, and the Pine Barrens. He was never a very diligent student, but he did manage to graduate with a degree in Geology from Rutgers University.

While at Rutgers his summer job was as a security escort in the South Bronx. This was in the 1970’s, during the “Fort Apache” era -- in fact, the 41st Precinct was in his territory.

After graduation he worked on oil wells as a mud logger, mostly in remote locations. He spent one winter working on oil wells on the North Slope of Alaska, and the next winter on rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. In between, he worked on conventional wells in California, Texas and Louisiana. The last well he worked on was the test well in Georges Banks, off the coast of New England.

He returned to New Jersey and found a job with the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game, and Shellfisheries (as it was known at the time). He began work in the Bureau of Law Enforcement, doing office work and radio dispatching. He then transferred to the Bureau of Wildlife Management and worked outdoors maintaining Wildlife Management Areas. While with Wildlife Management he was called to assist with two forest fires. He spent his last few months there driving a pickup truck and retrieving roadkill deer from highways in four counties.

Next, Lyons bought a suit and moved to New England to work for the telephone company. When the Bell System broke up he went with AT&T, and moved back to New Jersey. He rose through regional and national technical support positions, and ultimately became a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs.

He left Bell Labs to become a stay-at-home dad. He also volunteered at a local therapeutic riding center for several years.

Kevin A. Lyons sold his first story, The Star Creature, to Unearth Magazine in 1979. His second sale, Billy Wolfe’s Riding Spirit, was reprinted in the anthology The Year’s Best Horror Stories, Series VIII (1980, DAW Books, edited by Karl Edward Wagner).

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in suburban New Jersey, not far from New York City. But in the 50s and 60s my little suburban town still had a few farms and horses. I loved going into the woods to hunt for turtles or catching fish in a stream with a spool of thread and a bent pin. That town is completely different, today.

As to how it influenced my writing -- that's more difficult. The most obvious influence would be the locations I build for my stories.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My favorite ereader is the JetBook Lite. I love it for the same reasons that most people hated it, I suppose. The one facet that I like most is that it uses ordinary AA batteries. We had extended power outages (longer than a week) in 2011, following the Halloween blizzard, and in 2012, after Hurricane Sandy. I keep plenty of fully charged batteries on hand, but I like knowing that I can buy a set of batteries for it any time I need them.

Also, the "battery bulge" on the back makes a convenient finger hold while I'm reading and I can do page advances with my thumb. No "touch screen" means no smudges to read through -- something that really annoys me on my Android tablets!
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Kevin A. Lyons online

Smashwords book reviews by Kevin A. Lyons

  • Who Censored Roger Rabbit? on July 11, 2012

    I'll admit it -- I still have the hardcover of Who Censored Roger Rabbit. Money was tight for me back then and remember thinking long and hard before buying it. I never regretted it. In fact, I was disappointed by the movie. The book is much more "noir" than the movie, but still basically good fun. Very highly recommended.
  • Murder On The Mind on July 16, 2012

    I was a bit apprehensive about this book. I don't normally enjoy "mysteries" that involve someone with psychic abilities -- unrestricted psychic talent would mean the book should be over in a couple of pages, so the author usually has to construct elaborate "rules" and "limitations" for the psychic power. Too often they feel artificial and rigid. This book is much better than that. The hero, a bit of a loser to begin with, acquires his psychic talent in a way that makes its power -- AND limitations -- very believable. It helps (a lot) that the story is well constructed and beautifully written. The streets, neighborhoods, and characters all seem believable and this writer uses words well. There are some minor formatting problems with the version I read (epub, I don't know if they're universal) but they weren't serious enough to frustrate me.
  • Dead In Red on July 22, 2012

    I bought this book largely on the strength of Murder on the Mind, the first book in the series. This is the second book in the series. I liked this book as well, but you really do have to read the first book first. This book's plot is a bit more complex than the first book's -- and, of course, doesn't have to spend nearly as much time introducing the characters or providing background details. Also, Jeff, the main character, seems a lot more sure of himself and familiar with how his unique talent works. My only complaint comes at the end, when Jeff finally knows with certainly who the murderer is -- it seemed to me that he was suddenly certain, but I missed the specific detail that clinched it for him. But, I suppose I might be to blame for that.
  • Millennium Babies on July 23, 2012

    I can say this is a very good story without worrying too much about defending my opinion -- it won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2001. The story is set in the very near future and has the appropriate home and office automation trappings, but the science behind this story's "science fiction" is sociology. The ending was consistent with the characters and situation, but still not quite what I was expecting.
  • Stars: The Anthology on Aug. 05, 2012

    First off, I'm a bit of a purist, but some of these stories are heavily weighted towards Fantasy, not Science Fiction. Not a problem for me -- I like well-written Fantasy -- but don't be surprised by Fantasy story lines in amongst the aliens. Also, the table of contents doesn't work on either my reader (a Jetbook Lite) or Calibre (on my computer) -- it just shows the beginning, mid-point, and end of the book. This is an inconvenience in such a large anthology of short stories. On the other hand, the stories are very good, very original, and pretty affordable in a collection of this size. The basic premise is that each story is inspired by one of Janis Ian's songs. All of the stories identify the song that inspired it, and most of the stories take that inspiration as a jumping-off point, turning into something completely new.
  • Worlds Enough...and Time on Dec. 16, 2012

    This single volume includes both "Worlds Enough ... and Time" and "Watching the Music Dance." I didn't make the connection right away, but these same two stories are available with "Watching the Music Dance" as the lead story. In reading the descriptions of the stories before making my purchase I didn't catch that. I passed up "Watching ..." since the description didn't appeal to me as much. I like the idea of getting a story free story, but I'd be concerned that someone might inadvertently buy both packages and wind up with duplicates. Also, a person interested in "Watching ..." might not look here for a review. Anyway, back to the review. I really liked "Worlds Enough ... and Time." It has a very Ray Bradbury-esque feel to it -- he even gets name-checked. The characters are all believable, especially the aging "counter-cultural" grandmother, and they all behave in logical ways. The writing is smooth and carries the story right along. Even the setting comes across realistically, and drives the events of the story. The four stars go to this story. Just as I thought, I did not like "Watching the Music Dance" quite as much. This is not due to any problem with the story itself -- it's just that I'm a former stay-at-home dad, and I currently volunteer with an organization that works with the handicapped, so I'm especially sensitive to the subject of child abuse -- even very abstract, science fictional, child abuse. The story itself is very well written, and if you're interested in it you shouldn't let me slow you down
  • Ownership is Fatal on Feb. 06, 2013

    A very nice, very short story! There's some good imagery here, nice description, and good attention to detail. My only (mild) complaint is that the ending is a bit abrupt. I'd like to hear the narrator express what the ending *means* to her. But this story is a very promising beginning. I look forward to more.
  • Deadly Gamble: A Girl and Her Dog Cozy Mystery on March 23, 2013

    A good, well written, light mystery. It's a fun and easy read -- and there are times when that's just what I need! Charlie -- short for Charlotte -- is a partner in a private investigator business with her brother. He's the P.I. and she's the accountant -- at least, that's the way it's supposed to be. But while her brother's away she gets caught up in a simple job that quickly becomes more complicated and sinister. I'd like to know more about Charlie. For instance, I don't think her business, essentially a one-man P.I. business, really needs a full time accountant. Does she do any forensic accounting? But I guess (hope?) that's what the rest of the series is for. Recommended for fans of light or "cozy" mysteries.
  • Still Life Without You on March 27, 2013

    I've read this story a couple of times, and I like it. It consists of a sequence of mysteries, each building on the previous one, and all related to an underlying family tragedy.
  • The Flint Lord on April 26, 2013

    This is the second volume in "The Pagans" trilogy, after The Stone Arrow. If possible, I'd recommend reading The Stone Arrow first -- the stories stand alone, but the first novel serves as a good introduction to the British neolithic civilization and the settlements in the area. I'm not an authority on the subject, but the story rang true for me. It is a novel of casual violence, but the author doesn't dwell on the details. There are no real "heroes" in this story. The first novel in the series, The Stone Arrow, is very much Tagart's story. Tagart is present in The Flint Lord, but his character seemed more superficial to me, and less complex. I liked The Stone Arrow a little better, but I still recommend this book. (I got The Stone Arrow at Barnes & Noble, so I can't review it here.)
  • 9 Tales of Henghis Hapthorn on Aug. 19, 2013

    These stories are set in the very distant future. Earth has colonized thousands of worlds, but most of these stories are set on "Old Earth." The protagonist, Henghis Hapthorn, is described as a "freelance discriminator" -- basically, a private investigator. He will not knowingly provide services that could result in criminal activity, but he's a bit flexible on that detail. He's on reasonably good terms with the police -- called the Bureau of Scrutiny -- but not exactly friendly terms. Hapthorn is assisted by his integrator -- an artificial intelligence that combines the functions of personal computer, cell phone, digital assistant, etc. Integrators are made to order and nearly all citizens have one, assembled to order with customized blends of intelligence, curiosity, etc. By definition, they don't change or evolve -- but the stories suggest that they can. Hapthorn also has a "colleague" who inhabits a universe of different dimensions, that he calls a "demon." Finally, Hapthorn is living in the "penultimate age" of humanity. The universe is poised to shift from a rational universe of logic and science to a universe based on the principles of magic. The writing is reminiscent of Jack Vance in both style and setting, but it seems very natural -- not forced. Basically, I really enjoyed these stories.
  • Lesson One - a short story on Dec. 07, 2013

    This is a well written story with an imaginative and original premise. I don't think I've read anything quite like it before. It really seemed to me that it should have been included in a Fantasy genre -- I would have found it sooner. Recommended.
  • Death by Chocolate on Dec. 15, 2013

    This is a wonderful "cozy" mystery. The setting is a library in a mid-sized city. I worked in a library, long ago, and the various departments (and personalities) all seemed very familiar to me. There were several believable misdirections in solving the murder. The conclusion, when I got there, was very believable. I enjoyed going along for the ride. I'd welcome another story in this setting and with these characters.
  • Two Birds (A Short Mystery) on Dec. 23, 2013

    A very good, short murder mystery. The story is short and direct. The few characters are well developed. The ending is completely logical, and still a surprise.
  • The Weight of Gold on Dec. 24, 2013

    A good short story set in Alexandria under Roman rule. Heron, or Hero, was an actual historical figure -- a Greek mathematician and inventor. This story fits his reputation well. The story is subtle, and not entirely satisfying if you're looking for the good to be rewarded and the evil to be punished -- but it is probably a better representation of reality in Roman society. I enjoyed it.
  • Murder by the Old Maine Stream on Feb. 18, 2014

    This is an excellent "cozy" mystery. The characters are believable, and there's good chemistry between Nora and Nick. I found some of the situations a little "over the top" but that's not unusual (or necessarily bad) for this genre. The mystery plays out well and logically, without being obvious. And it does have some funny moments. Recommended for fans of light, or cozy, mysteries.
  • The Mystery of the Dead Squirrels on Feb. 20, 2014

    A very good short story with an original premise. The characters and motivations are pretty logical and believable, with a couple of unexpected twists. A good read for a free afternoon.
  • The Eye of Mammut on March 16, 2014

    I really liked this story. I have some qualms about the culture that the author has depicted, but the story itself is consistent, and believable, within that culture. The mystery does move forward very quickly and without many misdirections -- I had it figured out from the start -- but that shouldn't be a surprise for a story as short as this.
  • Mercedes Drew the collection on July 07, 2014

    A collection of short, light mystery stories. Like most "cozy" mysteries, these have a "romance" aspect, but it's less feminine than the typical "cozy" mystery. Mercedes Drew is the female protagonist -- the male protagonist, Desmond Flowers, plays at least an equal part. Drew is a motorcycle messenger, driving her father's hand-me-down 1969 Triumph Bonneville (a classic bike, although the Norton Commando was my favorite British motorcycle of the time). Flowers is a detective with the local police. They meet in the first story and hit it off -- even though each is not so sure about the other. They do tend to get on each others' nerves throughout the book. There are 9 stories in this collection, and each story usually has two mysteries. The stories are imaginative and well told. The "mysteries" hang together well and are clearly resolved by the end (well, one left me not quite so sure, but that might have been me). The characters are believable and interesting. The stories frequently mention vans. Some of the bad guys drive vans, some good guys drive vans, sometimes there are just vans around to provide local color. As far as I remember, every single van was white! I've since checked this out, and it turns out that "white vans" really are popular with tradesmen, small businesses, etc. Learn something new every day! The stories do need some attention to formatting. One scene abruptly moves into another without a break -- putting a blank line in between two different scenes would make it easier to follow the action. Still, the stories were very good. I read them straight through and I recommend them.
  • Eating It Too on July 08, 2014

    A conventional story, but very well told.
  • Smile for the Camera on July 17, 2014

    This novel is a follow up to the Mercedes Drew short story collections. There are some differences, besides it being a novel. The biggest difference is what I perceived to be a "darker" tone to the story, involving the fate of an abducted girl. But the main characters are familiar and consistent, and there are still some situations that had me smiling. The novel stands alone, but I'd still suggest reading the short stories first. They provide a thorough introduction to the characters and work environments.
  • Dryad on July 28, 2014

    I'm glad I found this book, even though I don't usually read "Contemporary Fantasy" ... and I rarely read "long" books. The "Contemporary Fantasy" aspect was very well handled. The Fantasy world was well constructed with some familiar reference points, and the characters were believable and consistent. As far as the length goes -- I usually read short stories up to novels of about 65,000 words. Books that go much longer than that require a commitment in time that I'm reluctant to give, especially to an author I'm not familiar with. But this worked out very well. The writing was smooth and the plot was interesting. The story could probably have been tightened up a little -- it does meander a bit, especially in the beginning -- but the author manages to keep it interesting. The story is set in Australia. The forests settings were familiar and reminded me of the forests in my area, but references to Eucalyptus reinforces the location. This is the first book in a series, so there are some open-ended plotlines, but the main story reaches a pretty satisfying conclusion -- the book doesn't end with a cliffhanger. I recommend it!
  • Riders of the Three-Toed Horse on Sep. 15, 2014

    This is a good short story. I'd describe it as mostly science fiction with some fantasy elements. The setting in particular is very interesting and original. Generally I like my SF to be "pure" SF, but I'm interested in seeing where the author goes with this idea. In terms of the writing, there are a few places where it could probably be tightened up, but it flows easily and fits what I imagined to be the narrator's style. It's been a while, but maybe another story will come along -- I hope. I do like seeing Geologists in stories.
  • On a Red Station, Drifting on Sep. 16, 2014

    This is a very good, very complicated story of culture, family, status, and duty. I really liked it. The setting is an interstellar empire modeled on, or descended from, ancient Vietnamese culture. Some of the nobles in the outlying regions are in rebellion, seizing planetary systems and executing anyone who opposes them. The young, inexperienced emperor is pulling his forces back, abandoning the outer worlds. Meanwhile, all citizens of rank are equipped with implants containing the personalities of ancestors who advise them. Other personalities include the artificial intelligence that runs the station but is suffering a crisis and may collapse, and a visiting specialist who hopes to assist in "healing" the AI. A young female administrator flees her world just before it falls. She seeks shelter in a large space station, a permanent habitat, run by a distant cousin. Their ranks and conflicting positions in a time of war are a source of stress in a very rigidly defined society, a local crisis on the station, and the greater threat that faces the empire.
  • Classic White Sheet - A Halloween Story on Oct. 26, 2014

    This is a wonderful Halloween-themed ghost story. It's a horror story, and there is an aspect of tragedy and gruesome violence, but it occurs "off screen" and not in the course of the narration, so that isn't its focus. I like the story and the theme, but mostly I really like the conclusion. It's not about terror, revenge, retribution -- it could have been, but it wouldn't have been nearly as good a story to my mind. It ends on a note of "redemption," for want of a better word. (If I can think of that better word I'll come back and edit this review.) I recommend it -- for Halloween, or almost any other time.
  • Flashdrive on Oct. 27, 2014

    I gave up. It's a shame -- I liked the plot, I liked the characters, and I liked the setting. But I gave up after about one hundred pages. Bottom line: This book desperately (desperately!) needs an editor. The word "new" appeared where the author clearly meant "knew," "as thought" instead of "as though," etc., etc. Extra quotation marks appear where they don't belong, and some are missing where they do belong, making it impossible to tell the narration from the dialog. Commas are missing from complicated scenes, etc., etc. Errors like these appear every few paragraphs. With a little editing this could easily be a 4 or 5 star book, but it's just too much work for me to try to plow through this one when there are other books waiting for me. I hope the book gets the attention it deserves -- I'd love to come back and read it. But for now, I've started something else.
  • Naiad on Nov. 19, 2014

    This is the second book in the Narun trilogy, and you really do have to read the first book, Dryad, first. The first book introduces the main characters, defines the "Fantasy ecosystem," and sets up the storyline (well, storylines) for the second book. The two storylines in this book involve a quest, or journey of discovery for some of the characters, while others are caught up in a government investigation into events that are especially suspicious since they partly involve the human world but are motivated from the hidden world of the Narun. As the story unfolds it reveals that the plots are much larger, darker, and dangerous than anyone knew -- or could have predicted. By the end of the book we know much more about this fantasy ecosystem and its inhabitants, but the story doesn't really conclude -- it sets up the action for the third volume. This is another reason to read the first story first -- if you like it, you'll be happy to sign up for the rest of the journey. Like the first book, this is a lot longer than most books I read. The characters are well-defined and their personalities are believable. The fantasy world is well thought out and consistent -- major points are always foreshadowed and there are no sudden, unexpected miracles. The landscape, especially for the quest, is interesting. And, like the first book, I think the writing could have been "tightened up" a bit, especially in the first half. But it's a good story, well told. I enjoyed reading it, and I recommend the series -- at least, the two books that I've read so far. Just make sure you read the first book, Dryad, first!
  • Nereid on Nov. 24, 2014

    This is the concluding volume in the Narun trilogy. It's the longest in the series, but I didn't feel that it needed to be "tightened up." This books sets up the final conflict among the various peoples of the Narun. The book does a great job of filling in the last details of the races and setting up the conflict. When war comes the action is handled deftly and without confusion -- showing, in some cases, the "fog of war" without becoming foggy itself. The war itself has aspects that range from the Battle of the Bulge to the Trojan War. Since the war is for the world, and humans are part of that world, humans are involved -- even though they cannot see or hear the Narun. This was my only (mild) concern. It seemed to me that the way that the humans were involved was a bit too easy. Not quite a caricature, but a bit two dimensional -- especially given the richly detailed development of the Narun. Anyway, I enjoyed this trilogy very much and recommend it. But the volumes really must be read in order.
  • Horizon on Dec. 18, 2014

    An interesting story that seems to set the scene for the series. In a time and setting where it has become cheaper to abandon an orbital station and build a new one there are vacant stations available to be claimed by potential "homesteaders." This is the story of one such station being claimed by a small group of friends. The story is a quick, fun read. I'm glad I found it.
  • Naughty and Nice on Dec. 29, 2014

    I'm not a big fan of Zombie Apocalypse stories, but Dan Chambeaux (now known as Dan Shamble to his friends) is different. Something happened in New Orleans, and now ghosts, vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other "unnaturals" walk the streets. Dan is a private investigator, and a zombie. This brings advantages and disadvantages. Like the others I've read, this Dan Shamble story is well written, well formatted, and just plain fun.
  • His Robot Girlfriend on Jan. 02, 2015

    The idea of realistic -- even beautiful -- humanoid robots opens up some big questions. The biggest question, of course, is how long would it take for the human race to go extinct as men (and women) turn to robots instead of each other. But this story doesn't really address the big problems, and that's fine with me. It does have some very adult scenes, but that's not the main theme. It also has some funny scenes, but I wouldn't call it a comedy. It's a quick, light read, and it's a very good one, at that. I enjoyed it and I'd be happy to recommend it to someone looking for a light-hearted adult "fairy tale" for the technological age.
  • His Robot Girlfriend: Charity on Jan. 18, 2015

    Fourth in the "Robot Girlfriend/Wife" books. The first three books feature the same core characters and form a sequence -- this book shares the robot underpinnings but no characters from the first three books appear. You could read this book as a stand-alone, but the other three will give you a better understanding of the development of the robots and the history of the Daffodil company. There is a mystery in the background: It's well-handled and I didn't see the resolution coming. The main storyline evolves into a "bigger idea" than the previous books. Like the others, this definitely includes some Adult themes and scenes. I recommend it!
  • Autumn Wandering on March 07, 2015

    A nice short story with an interesting plot and realistic characters and good imagery. The protagonist finds it difficult to settle down for more than about a year at a time, and her latest urge to wander brings her back to her old home. The story held my interest throughout and the ending was satisfying.
  • Cats and Crime, A Panzer And The P.I. Mystery Collection on March 07, 2015

    As "cat-assisted detective" stories, these are good, light mysteries and quick reads. The two stories that feature Matt Stockley are a bit more serious, but also light, quick reads. A good collection to have if you have some time to kill.
  • The Watchmaker (A Novelette) on March 08, 2015

    I love time travel stories -- especially stories that try to cheat fate or flirt with paradox problems. This storyline is very original, the characters are believable and well-developed, and the "rules" for time travel are clear and logical. There is a romance aspect that was well handled and plays a critical part in the storyline. I believe the city of Lowell qualifies as a character in this story. If you don't know Lowell don't worry -- it's well described. If you do know Lowell, that's a bonus. And, finally, this ebook is beautifully formatted! I recommend it!
  • Under the Hill on March 09, 2015

    A very good ghost story. It all seems so normal at first and then, subtly, things change. There's a bit of eeriness but definitely no horror. As is common in this genre, many of the characters seem to be pretty casual about accepting the existence of a ghost. Under the Hill is very well written and I'm glad I found it. Be aware, though, that this story amounts to about half of the ebook -- the other half consists of a preview for another book by the author. Nothing wrong with that, but keep it in mind when you plan your time.
  • Lucky's Leprechaun on March 09, 2015

    A fun romance involving a unique twist on leprechaun lore. The characters are believable and sympathetic, and the writing is well done. I enjoyed it.
  • Quiet Post on March 14, 2015

    Martia Rosenthal had a nice job with a good future at her father's company -- until her co-worker and boyfriend dumped her, stole a batch of corporate secrets, and left for Europe. Now, she just wants to start over, on her own, far away, and maybe "help people." She decides to go to a frontier settlement in the "Quasiverse." Her father is devastated, but still manages to get her what seems to be a safe job in the local government -- a "quiet post." This is not "Nuts & Bolts" Science Fiction. The laws of physics and logic don't apply in the Quasiverse. It's more like a mix of the wild west, Oz, and Alice's Wonderland. The characters are (mostly) likeable and the adventures are fun. Most of the loose ends are tied up (pretty cleverly) by the end. Some parts of the story are a bit risqué, but never seriously. I enjoyed this book.
  • Short Story Strands: Halloween 2012 Edition on March 24, 2015

    A large collection of very, very short stories -- I'd call them "flash fiction" -- that is a real mixed bag. Some of these are very good, and some are not. Many have a sense of humor, but some are pretty bleak. Some are ghost stories and some are science fiction. This is a good collection to take with you when you're going to spend time in a waiting room. And if one story leaves you flat, move on to the next.
  • Polly!: A Comic Novel of Hope and Blasphemy on May 19, 2015

    This book is irreverent. Some people would certainly find it offensive, but I enjoyed it. The first half of the book reminded me very much of an updated screwball comedy from 1930s Hollywood. By the end the focus had shifted and it came across almost as an alternate philosophy, which slowed it down a bit (in my humble opinion, at least). But it was still a lot of fun.
  • Hanged to Death: A Museum Mystery on June 06, 2015

    A nice, short read. No big surprises, but I liked the setting and characters. There are a few editing and formatting issues that could be addressed.
  • Tweet the Police on June 07, 2015

    This ebook has been in my "To Be Read" list for some time, along with another title by Ellis Drake. Of the two, I liked this one better. It's good, uncomplicated story with well-drawn characters in an interesting setting. The writing is smooth, and I didn't notice any editing or formatting problems. The ending did seem to be a bit abrupt, but I enjoyed the story.
  • We're So Sorry, Uncle Albert on June 23, 2015

    A conventional story, but well told, with believable characters in recognizable settings. A good, quick read with a dark but very funny undercurrent. I enjoyed it.
  • Morning Tea Near Mitchelton on June 29, 2015

    A nice collection of eight very short stories or very long vignettes. They rely heavy on imagination, and maybe not so much on realism. Coincidence plays a very large role in most of these stories, but they're well written and I was happy to go along for the ride. These are recommended for coffee (or tea?) breaks, but I'd also suggest carrying them along the next time you're going to be in a waiting room, killing time until you can see the doctor, dentist, mechanic, etc.
  • Blue Haired Alien Girlfriend on Aug. 12, 2015

    More a vignette than an actual story, but a good short read nonetheless. The boyfriend, Joshua, is a bit of a loner. He's an underachiever who works at a fast food joint -- and not a top of the line one at that. Not much of a spoiler, but he's a bit of an alien, himself. I enjoyed it.
  • Marley Was Dead: A Christmas Carol Mystery on Aug. 18, 2015

    A very original story, well told. The mystery was very creative and, honestly, a lot of fun. I'm not an expert on "Dickensian" London, but it all rang true to me. I read this in a summer heat wave, but I'll probably re-read it as the holidays approach. The only drawback is that it could really use a pass through the hands of a good editor. There are some little errors that are just enough to pull the reader (me, anyway) out of the story -- an occasional mismatched quotation mark, a character whose name gets spelled two different ways at different times in the book, that sort of thing. Still, I enjoyed it!
  • Only Human on Aug. 26, 2015

    A cute little story. The plot is familiar, but with an original spin. But it could use some polishing. This really reads more like a draft than a finished story.
  • Battle of Wits on Sep. 02, 2015

    An excellent short story told from both points of view. The plot flows logically as each person, detective and suspect, pursues their strategy and tactics through the interview. While the story does touch, very gently, on adult themes, it's not at all graphic -- I worry that potential readers might miss this story due to the "Adult" designation. Better to be cautious, I guess, but don't let the tag scare you off.
  • Skeleton Trees on Sep. 04, 2015

    A very good, well thought out, and effective ghost story. Two stories of loss are intertwined and, eventually, resolved in a logical manner. The characters are believable and sympathetic. The setting adds to the story. A good read for a rainy afternoon.
  • Executive Lunch on Oct. 06, 2015

    I really enjoyed this book. The storyline was original, the characters were well-developed, and the ending was both logical and still a surprise. Some of the plot elements nearly go over the top, but that's not unusual in a "cozy mystery." This is a good, quick read. It's not the kind of literature that will change the world, but it was a welcome diversion from reality for me. I enjoyed it!
  • Merit Badge Murder on Nov. 05, 2015

    This is a fun, well written "Cozy" mystery. The characters were well realized and the setting was believable. I do have some issues with the way the CIA gets involved, but it didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story. Many of the situations seemed "over the top" but that's not unusual (or necessarily unwelcome) in a cozy mystery. If you're looking for a fact-based CIA thriller, this may not be the book you're looking for. But it did make for a good read for a few afternoons.
  • The Celtic Riddle on Nov. 09, 2015

    A very traditional mystery, set in Ireland. An old man dies. He leaves a reasonable inheritance to a few old friends and his estranged family, and also some clues to a treasure. The first clues lead to more clues, and these clues must still be deciphered. And along the way some of the heirs (and treasure hunters) meet untimely demises. Very well written!
  • The Xibalba Murders on Nov. 21, 2015

    A good mystery in an exotic location. The characters were well developed, the location was accurately portrayed (as far as I could tell) and the action was logical and well plotted. There were several likely suspects and a couple of unlikely ones. I did have my eye on the culprit early on, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the action as it played out.
  • The Summer Dress on Dec. 21, 2015

    A very good, very short story. The setting and main character are familiar and comfortable. The ending is a very effective surprise. I enjoyed it and recommend it!
  • Simple Case on Dec. 21, 2015

    A very good short story. And, I suspect, a very realistic one. The crime at the center of the story is at the low end of the legal food chain, and doesn't matter much to anyone involved except for the rookie prosecutor who has been assigned to it. There is, however, a bit of symbolic vindication at the end. The pace of the story is slow and deliberate, and the overall feel is "procedural" rather than "thriller."
  • The Tolham Castle Mysteries on Jan. 11, 2016

    A nice collection of four short stories in an interesting setting with likeable main characters. The stories are mysteries in the sense that there are puzzles to solve, but there are no violent confrontations or serious threats. There is a cryptic will, locked doors with missing keys, hidden rooms, and old inscriptions. The writing is fresh and the stories are told with enthusiasm. The fun is reading along as the puzzles unfold. I enjoyed them.
  • Beach Apples on Feb. 07, 2016

    A nice collection of short -- sometimes very short -- stories. They touch on some universal concepts, and motivations. There's a bit of steampunk, some fantasy, and some glimpses of everyday, modern life. This is a good collection to have handy for spare moments!
  • Waiter, There's a Clue in My Soup! Five Short Mysteries on Feb. 12, 2016

    A good collection of short mysteries with unusual settings (such as the Wild West) and approaches ("how dunnit" and "why dunnit" as opposed to just "who dunnit"). They also neatly fit my need for short pieces to read while sitting in waiting rooms for doctors, dentists, mechanics, etc.
  • Claire on Feb. 15, 2016

    A good story in two distinct parts. The first part is the set-up and the second part is the punchline -- this isn't a funny story, but I think the analogy fits. My only regret is that I think more ground could have been covered in the first part of the story, reducing the amount that needed to be covered in the second. Nevertheless, I liked it!
  • Repairing the Sky, Tales of Myth and Magic from Old China on Feb. 25, 2016

    I enjoy reading myths and legends of various cultures. I'm most familiar with Greek, Roman, and Irish myths and legends, so this was an obvious buy for me. I haven't read the originals -- obviously! -- but I liked these stories. They read like myths, not like stories: for instance, there isn't a lot of dialog. The only drawback is that there are several typographical errors -- mostly dropped or missing words. The meanings were still clear, but you should be aware.
  • Tracking Magic on March 26, 2016

    I had Tracking Magic with me in my ereader on what turned out to be a busy day that consisted mostly of "hurry up and wait" chores. It turned out to be a good choice! It's a short collection of stories about a (human) PI who operates in a world of magic and supernatural beings. Apparently, after the world returned to the gold standard for monetary systems magic was able to return. The stories are well-written and while magic figures into the mysteries, the solutions rely on real-world logic and insight. There was some humor, but also poignancy and loss -- not unexpected in stories about mysteries and ghosts. By now it has been a long while, but I really wouldn't mind reading another Max Killian story. I really liked these stories and would recommend them without hesitation to anyone!
  • Notes on March 31, 2016

    This is a very, very short story or vignette. It features an imaginative use of time travel and an intriguing time paradox. I liked it -- and it won't take much time for you to see if you do.
  • Tea and an Art Thief on April 27, 2016

    This is more of a vignette than a full story, and it is more focused on the characters than plot or action. The setting appears to be the late 19th century, which does lend it a bit of a steampunk ambience, but there really isn't any tech to the story. It's a good, enjoyable, quick read.
  • Barnaby's Shorts (Volume One) on May 02, 2016

    I'm going to give this book 5 stars. There were a couple of stories that might have gotten "only" 4 stars on their own, but they're outnumbered. All of these stories involve odd situations, unique characters, and an ending that takes a bit of a twist. And sometimes that twist runs right out through left field and into the Twilight Zone. A great way to pass some time!
  • In the Twinkling of a Bronze Eye on May 03, 2016

    An interesting short story with a fantasy tie-in. The story is pretty straight-forward. I enjoyed it.
  • American Turtles on June 23, 2016

    I really like seeing work from new writers! A little rough in spots, but these are some interesting and original stories. In some cases the connections to Neil Gaiman's stories were obvious, in others subtle. I was also interested in the author's notes that followed each story. The collection is a bit uneven but all of the stories had their strengths. I enjoyed them all, but my favorites were probably Penny for your Thoughts, The Moments that Haunt Us, and American Turtles. I hope to see more from these authors!
  • Six Impossible Things on June 26, 2016

    I loved every story in this collection! The characters are well written and the plots are perfectly "logical" even within a fantasy framework.
  • The Avid Angler - The Hot Dog Detective (A Denver Detective Cozy Mystery) on July 03, 2016

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The characters are believable, and the storyline is interesting. The setting is well described and familiar. The resolution to the mystery is believable. I'll be reading more books in this series!
  • Inspector Zhang Gets His Wish (A Free Short Story) on Sep. 05, 2016

    This short story seems to be mostly a vehicle to introduce Inspector Zhang, but it's well written and the characters are well developed. It's set in Singapore, which is a strictly regulated society, but Inspector Zhang appears to be willing to go "off script" while making his investigation -- much to the chagrin of his assistant. I enjoyed it.
  • Night Shift on Sep. 28, 2016

    There really isn't any mystery for the reader to solve, so I'd say this falls into the "crime thriller" sub-genre -- and it's very effective at that. It's well-written, the character of the Chief of Police is well realized, and the story holds together well right up to a believable ending. Bear in mind that this is a short story. Even shorter than the word count indicates since it includes a short preview to The Tuxedoed Man.
  • The Tuxedoed Man on Oct. 20, 2016

    I liked just about everything in this book. In addition to its classification as a "Mystery" I would also categorize it as a "Police Procedural." It's set in a town in Manitoba, Canada, on the prairie. The characters are fully realized, the plot is logical, and the storyline really drew me in. As a bonus, the ebook is well formatted and well edited. I'm looking forward to reading more!
  • The World and Thorinn on Oct. 24, 2016

    The World and Thorinn was assembled from a few stories that appeared in Galaxy magazine in 1968 -- in fact, I read the first one there. A mix of far-future science fiction and a little fantasy it's a fun ride through multiple worlds -- or multiple aspects of the same world. The writing is well done, as you would expect from Damon Knight. The concept has been used in science fiction before, but this story is a pretty original take on it. The ending is logical, but not what I expected. So, I read the first part of the story in Galaxy, the full story when it came out in paperback, and now the ebook -- which I expect to keep and read again, some time.
  • The Rozar Park Mystery on Nov. 13, 2016

    This is a very good story with an unusual setting and several strong characters. It's told in the first person by a US Marshall in central Georgia. The Marshall has a friend whose background is a bit unclear -- he is obviously very familiar with investigations and probably has a background in law enforcement, but the nature of his background isn't fully explained. There is a minor problem with punctuation involving the use of quotation marks, but I didn't take a star off. I plan to read more in this series.
  • Justice Is Served: an Edward Red Mage short mystery on Dec. 29, 2016

    A good, quick read. The "mystery" isn't too deep, but there are some misdirections and complications to keep the story interesting.
  • News from Dead Mule Swamp on Feb. 18, 2017

    I really enjoyed this "cozy mystery." It's well-written, the characters are believable, the action is logical, and the setting is interesting. The chain of events leads to a logical, but not obvious, conclusion.
  • The Pluck of O'Reilly on Feb. 20, 2017

    A fun story -- well written, very logical, and very funny! Well worth a spot in anyone's library.
  • That Damn Moon on April 15, 2017

    A quick story with a twist ending that I did not see coming. I like that!
  • Jolie Gentil Mysteries - Books Five to Seven on Oct. 23, 2017

    I really enjoy the Jolie Gentil mysteries. They're well written, in an interesting setting, have engaging characters, and good story lines. The stories themselves stand independently, but the characters and their relationships do evolve, so I'd recommend reading them in order.
  • Mars: A Traveler's Guide on March 05, 2018

    A very dry, wry piece of humor. A good read when you need to keep things in perspective.
  • The Tooth, The Whole Tooth and Nothing But The Tooth on May 20, 2019

    A fun piece, well written. A good way to fill the time in a waiting room, and iit's pretty funny. It is definitely not, however, a reference book! Mastodons were not dinosaurs! I still recommend iit!
  • Tom Meets the Devil on May 21, 2019

    A well-written, original take on a traditional storyline. A quick read for one of those times that you find yourself in a waiting room.
  • Witch Way on Dec. 18, 2021

    This short story is part of the Moon Shadow series, but it stands alone and could easily serve as an introduction to the series if you enjoy it. I suppose I'd classify it as "Urban Fantasy" but in this case the setting is in the desert near Santa Fe. There are interesting characters, a "logical" system of magic, and a tense confrontation. I recommend it highly! (Full disclosure -- I had the pleasure of reading an early version of this story. I received no compensation and made no commitment beyond offering the author my honest feedback. I enjoyed the first version, and enjoyed this one more. I'm happy to recommend this story.)
  • There's a Road Here Somewhere on Jan. 10, 2022

    Maria E. Schneider is one of my favorite writers. Her works range from humorous cozy mysteries to urban fantasies and beyond. This collection qualifies for the "beyond" label. It's a collection of brief episodes drawn from her life of adventures and misadventures among family and livestock in the Southwest. The stories are very short -- from a few paragraphs to a few pages in length. They're usually funny, often thoughtful, and always well written. This is a wonderful collection of stories to keep on your smartphone for those times when you have a few minutes to kill while waiting for your dentist appointment, your mechanic to finish the car repairs, the kids getting out of scouts, etc.
  • The Only Suspect on Feb. 27, 2022

    As far as the victim and the police are concerned, there is only one suspect, and the evidence seems pretty strong. Fortunately, Nisha digs a little deeper and finds a few more possible suspects. Eventually, Nisha puts together the clues and finds the real culprit. But there was a satisfying twist at the end that I wasn't expecting. I'm looking forward to reading the next Nisha story.
  • Dead Even on April 21, 2022

    Georgia has moved across the continent to escape a tragic past and the hidden society of witches, necromancers, etc., to which she belongs ... or belonged? She's taken her two ravens and guardian mastiff with her to a small island community of mortals, and if everyone lived happily ever after there would be no story. But, not everyone lives happily ever after. I liked this paranormal cozy. It's an easy, escapist read to pass a couple afternoons. There was one plot element that annoyed me, but it was fixed in the second half of the story, so I'll be reading the next book in the series shortly.
  • Executive Shorts on May 04, 2022

    Three good stories in the Sedona O'Hala series. They all stand alone, so you don't have to read any of the novels first in order to enjoy them -- in fact, these stories would be a good introduction to the series. There are some tense moments, but also some humor. This collection would be a good choice to read on the beach or by the pool.
  • Least Trodden Ground on May 18, 2022

    I've read and enjoyed many of this author's Jolie Gentil mysteries, and I was not disappointed by this story. I had some ideas about "who done it" as the story progressed, but I was still surprised by the ending. All the clues were there, I just hadn't put them together fully. I'm looking forward to reading the next story in the series.
  • Pandora's Card Game on Sep. 13, 2023

    An excellent -- but very, very dark -- collection of short stories. There are echoes of Ray Bradbury's early stories, like The Veldt, and some of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone episodes. There are a few minor hitches that could benefit from another pass by an editor, but they didn't distract me from the stories.
  • Crooked Curse on Sep. 14, 2023

    The cover really doesn't do justice to this book. The main character, Suri -- or "Surly" as her neighbors refer to her -- is more nuanced and interesting than the cover might suggest. The story takes some unexpected twists and turns and did a great job of holding my attention.