When I first got into mysteries and tales of murder and intrigue, it was through copious volumes of Nancy Drew tales – by the way do you know Carolyn Keene is not one writer but a bevy of them? I must admit Enid Blyton had a hand in it too what with her Five Find Outers and Famous Five adventure stories. The most recent crime story related book I read was called Murder in Vegas: New Crime Tales of Gambling and Desperation. It is a collection of crime short stories about Las Vegas edited by Michael Connelly.
For me, three of the stories particularly stood out: Nickels and Dimes by Ronnie Klaskin, A Temporary Crown by Sue Pike and Iggy’s Stuff by J. Madison Davis.
Nickels and Dimes is a short story about a stop in Las Vegas made by two parents on holiday with two young children. Once is a bookish sister who tends to have allergies and the other is bit of a tomboy. The father is told by the mother to only use nickels and dimes if he gambles. But he disregards her advice and makes a tidy sum, which he conceals from revealing to her because he used dollars. Then when his young daughter, the tomboy, wants to make her pocket money higher, he places the bets for her and doubles her pocket money. Coming up with a cunning plan, the girl says she wants to nap and she is sent to her room to sleep. But while her parents and sister are in the other room, she sneaks away to take her chances with the slots. When her parents return, they can’t find her in the room or in the hotel and get even more worried when they hear girls have been kidnapped for ransom there. When they report her missing and the older sister sneezes after receiving a hanky from a lifeguard, she discovers the culprit because of a trick her sister used to play on her using sprigs of lavender.
A Temporary Crown is about a lady who is obsessed about a celebrity and thinks that he is her boyfriend. Somehow she accidentally escapes her confines and meets with a strange woman. This woman who had a temporary crown discards it but fails to notice that a fake pink fingernail also gets dislodged. The celebrity obsessed woman picks up the crown with the fingernail stuck to it and puts it in her pocket because she likes to collect treasures. The woman with the crown then takes this woman who thinks the celebrity is her boyfriend to an apartment and gives her the hotel key. When she goes into the hotel room, the crazy woman sees a murder scene but in her mental incomprehension leaves the temporary crown enmeshed with the fingernail of the true murderer as a tribute.
Iggy’s Stuff is about a stoned pool boy who stumbles upon a murder scene and unwittingly gets involved because of a traffic mishap. He thinks when he gets involved that he is rescuing a woman from a would-be brutal and sadistic rapist but in reality what he is treated to is a staged scene. So when the actors who are responsible for the staging find out the pool boy is a liability because of his accidental heroics, they want to dispose of him but things don’t go quite as they planned.