SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS

 

"Better Mousetraps"
ed. Francis Nevins Jr., St. Martin's Press, 1988

Thirty-five short stories by Edgar-winning novelist Lutz are included here, following a perceptive introduction by Nevins. Reflecting the ingenious plotting and characterizations in Tropical Heat, Nightlines and the author's other full-length adventures, these entries are a bonanza for discriminating listeners. 

The first section contains tales of tortuous suspense, notably "High Stakes" about a man forced by thugs onto a six-inch ledge outside a hotel room 12 stories above the pavement. Every second of his vertiginous ordeal, trying to open a locked window, causes palpitations for the listener. 

In the second section, Lutz spikes the menace with sophisticated comedy. "Understanding Electricity" is a delicious tale of a customer "overcharged" by a power company and scheming for revenge. He accomplishes this with a power outage and a literal shock. ("Watt now?" the office secretary asks herself as her electric typewriter dies.) Nevins appends a checklist of the author's publications.


"Shadows Everywhere"
Mystery Scene Press, 1994

Twelve tales of mystery from the pen of bestelling author John Lutz, Shadows everywhere collects much of the author's early work. You'll meet everyone from a "hardscrabble farm woman" to a volatile trucker with an explosive cargo, a cliff driver with dreams of gold, and women who are digging for it. Not every PI is a good guy, and not every villain gets his due. These tales twist and turn, surprise and entertain. Flowing from the imagination of a master story-teller, the stories in "Shadows Everywhere" are a classic glimpse into the worlds of a rare talent.


"Until You Are Dead"
Five Star, 1998

A collection of twenty-seven short mystery/thriller stories with an introduction by John Lutz.


"The Nudger Dilemmas"
Five Star, 2001

This collection of 13 previously published stories starring Nudger, Lutz's worrywart St. Louis detective, provides an entertaining introduction to one of the genre's most distinctive private eyes. Nudger, whose ever-present antacids protect a stomach that turns at the mere hint of danger, somehow manages to do his job without resorting to fists or handguns. The well-turned phrase is his most lethal weapon, whether he's seeking justice for an executed man proved innocent after the fact or coming to the aid of his friend Danny, proprietor of Danny's Donuts, who believes that his fellow shipmates from Vietnam are being killed one by one. Lutz, winner of both the Shamus and the Edgar, also holds a lifetime achievement award from the Private Eye Writers of America.


"Endless Road" (2003)

In The Truth of the Matter, Lou Roebuck is a successful advertising man with all the trappings — prestige, position, a flashy car, money, and a beautiful woman on his arm. He's also a compulsive liar, and what begins as a fib on his expense account leads to trouble that compounds like loan shark interest. His past, and the people in it, has caught up with him, again. Which means the life he's been faking his way through, the good life, threatens to come unraveled.

Roebuck takes to the road, trying to put miles between himself and his trouble. But he picks up more trouble along the way, while staying in a cabin at peaceful Lake Chippewa in backwoods Missouri. He tries to extricate himself by doing what he thinks he does best — lie. In one scrape after another, it doesn't work. Nor for long, anyway. And Roebuck is on the run again. The problem is that he finally doesn't know lies from truth, about what happened, about why he is running, about what's real, about himself. Distance hasn't helped, and love and loyalty haven't saved him. Maybe nothing will.

In "DNA," the new science is solving a lot of crimes long after the fact. And causing problems for perpetrator and victim.

In "Image," it's said that perception is reality. In politics, in crime, in life and death.

"Endless Road" takes place in the early 1960s, when a military advisor reflects on his past to make a decision critical to his nation, based on a memory of long ago, and along the way discovers that maybe some highways continue forever. Maybe all of them do.