Friday, September 18, 2015

Short Fiction Friday: The Further Adventures of Carlotta Carlyle by Linda Barnes

My grandmother's book collection was always my first stop when visiting her house - after saying hello, of course. I'd browse the room to see what new gems she might have bought since the last time and wander the spines to see what popped out on this particular visit. Something previously passed by or brand new always did.

I don't recall now if Linda Barnes was one of those discoveries or if I found her Carlotta Carlyle series at the bookstore and then realized my grandmother had a partial set at home. Either way, it was around the 1999 reprinting of A Trouble of Fools because I was determined to start at the beginning.

This was one of my favorite series to recommend to customers because it seemed like so few people had heard of it. (Makes sense considering Trouble kicked off the series originally in 1987.) Carlotta was a six-foot redhead PI who drove a cab part time. She was clever and snarky and a perfect add on for anyone who loved Sue Grafton. The series ran for twelve titles, ending in 2008 with Lie Down With the Devil and I've missed it ever since.

Anywho, it appears the good folks at Open Road Media have brought back a selected number of Linda Barnes titles - three from her Michael Spraggue series and six of the Carlotta books as well as this little collection of shorts, which is great because it gave me a chance to revisit the Boston PI and it means - hopefully - some new readers will come to the series as a result. (I'd assume as the remaining six titles in the series are freed up by contractual obligations they'll become available as well - hopefully.)

The Further Adventures of Carlotta Carlyle features three shorts: "Lucky Penny" - Carlotta's very first appearance in print and the story that won Barnes a Shamus nomination and an Anthony Award in 1986, "Miss Gibson," and "Stealing First."

In "Lucky Penny," Carlotta is the victim of the strangest mugging probably in all of cabbie history. The perp stole her cash and coins at gunpoint, dumping the cash in a nearby trashcan and making off with a little over $4 in change. Of course the cops - even Carlotta's sometimes partner in crime Mooney - aren't going to waste their time so it's up to the PI to figure this one out on her own. 

"Miss Gibson" finds Carlotta traveling to Oregon to help out an old friend with a stalker. The friend, blues singer Dee Willis, has been at multiple shows and has escalated to sending threatening notes and dead flowers. Fearing what will come next, Dee asks Carlotta to step in. 

Finally, "Stealing First" leaves our PI in an awkward situation after agreeing to a favor for a drunk and petty thief from her police days.

The collection is quite short but it's only $1.99 and does offer up a nice taste of Carlotta and the series.

The full series list, if you're interested, is as follows:

A Trouble of Fools
The Snake Tattoo
Steel Guitar
Cold Case
The Big Dig
Deep Pockets
Heart of the World
Lie Down With the Devil

1 comment:

Kay said...

I remember this series, but didn't ever read any of it. I love Open Media and how they are putting so many older books in e-book form. So fun to see what will be next. I've found several old favorites and also series that I had forgotten completely - like this one. Bravo for Open Media!!