by Deborah Elliott-Upton
There may not be a free lunch, but it appears that a web site, SHORT STORIES AT EAST OF THE WEB, is offering short crime stories for nada. Okay, so there are a few ads hoping to catch your attention, but like everything else in today’s world, it is merely a moment before our short attention span moves onto the next story. Use the time to catch your breath and click onto another story.
All sorts of stories are available, but of course, I clicked to the crime shorts to discover an interesting array. Like Forrest Gump and his chocolates, I wasn’t sure what I’d find, but I knew the assortment looked tasty.
The site provides ratings, length and invitations to download to your computer or handheld device, print or simply read online the stories they’ve gathered.
The day I visited the web site, the Random Story belonged to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation, Sherlock Holmes. “The Reigate Puzzle” was new to me (a surprise as I thought I’d read them all) and involved “A trip to the country, supposedly for a rest.” Holmes and a mystery to be solved are soon united.
“Death by Scrabble or Tile M for Murder” by Charlie Fish also caught my attention. Only four pages in length, this one made me laugh out loud. I’m not sure if it’s because I identify with the wife since I’m quite good at Scrabble or the twist the author coils into the story. Okay, it’s Mr. Fish. He completely reeled me in and in only four pages, the story was finished.
“Impersonating Elvis” by Polly Nelson, at a mere three pages and given a four star rating, concerns the boss (who always gets everything the employee wished he had) entering an Elvis look-alike competition. This one surprised as it entertained.
Both Fish’s and Nelson’s stories left me with a smile, but crime isn’t usually a laughing matter and neither was Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” This is more than a classic — it’s the first detective story. You can’t get much better than this one.
Besides short stories, East of the Web also provides word games, teacher’s guides and story guides. Stumbling onto this site was like finding a short story lover’s mini-paradise in the haystack of the Internet.
If you’re short on time, but feel the need for a bit of action in a crime story and must have video, there’s always YouTube. Try this one on and see what you think of the Crime Story. (P.S. Bring back hats on men! Umm, someone tell Rod Blagojevich the JFK look is passé. Maybe a Fedora would help.)