Barb Goffman‘s published fiction has all been in the short-story realm. Her stories mostly focus on families, because the people who know you best are the ones you’ll most likely want to kill. She’s a current nominee for the Anthony Award and the Macavity Award for her short story “Truth and Consequences,” which was published in the anthology Mystery Times Ten (Buddhapuss Ink 2011). She’s also been nominated for the Agatha Award four times. In her spare time, Barb serves as a co-coordinating editor of the Chesapeake Crimes series and as program chair of the Malice Domestic mystery convention. She’s an avid reader and a doting mom of a very cute dog. Her website is www.barbgoffman.com.
When you work the same job, day in and day out, it’s natural to daydream about other careers. Wouldn’t it be exciting to be a pilot and jet off to exotic lands? Or to be a doctor and have the skills to save people’s lives? Well, you may not be able to switch jobs so easily, but there’s another way you can immerse yourself in other careers: books. Ahh, reading. The great magic carpet to other worlds.
With this in mind, a couple years ago, Donna Andrews, Marcia Talley, and I decided to make This Job Is Murder the theme of the fifth Chesapeake Crimes anthology. What could be better than mixing crime and interesting professions? We asked authors in the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime to come up with stories about crime on the job, at the office, or involving a co-worker. Maybe, we thought, we’d get some stories where crime is the job. The stories started coming in, and our authors didn’t disappoint.
Authors Ellen Crosby, Daniel Stashower, and Sandra Parshall reviewed all the submissions blindly, meaning they had no idea who had written each one. And they picked fourteen to go in the anthology, which was edited by Donna, Marcia, and me and was recently published by Wildside Press. The stories in this book offer an inside look at office jobs and jobs in the field, at folks who try to spin sales and tales. It’s your own magic carpet. Here’s a little taste of where Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder will take you:
In “Keep It Simple” by Shari Randall, a murder goes down and a P.I. finds she’s been used to set up an alibi. Well, she doesn’t take that lying down.
In C. Ellett Logan’s “Alligator Is for Shoes,” a highly publicized cooking competition is days away and one of the chefs has gone missing. Can a pampered wannabe P.I. crack the case while pretending she knows how to cook?
“Next Step, Foggy Bottom” addresses the fantasy many commuters might have: pushing their boss onto the subway tracks. In this tale, Margaret is so angry when her boss steals her husband, she goes to extraordinary lengths to get revenge.
Theft (of money, rather than of a husband) also plays a role in E. B. Davis’s “Lucky in Death.” A fisherman steals his granddaughters’ college fund. His wife, determined to replace the money, can only find a sales job at a hated fishing superstore. She’s pretty angry until she meets another put-upon wife.
Jill Breslau’s “Murder in Mediation” offers an inside look at mediation, a way divorcing couples can try to settle their differences amicably. It sounds good, until you mix in sex and pride. Then all bets are off.
If you’ve ever dreamed of working as an undercover reporter, David Autry’s “Deadrise” is for you. In this tale, a reporter goes undercover to bring down drug smuggling in the Chesapeake Bay.
Harriette Sackler’s “The Factory” brings you back to Old New York, which sounds romantic until you remember all the sweatshops that dotted the city. In this story, a factory worker tries to stop sexual harassment and finds herself in an untenable situation.
Next in the book comes my story “The Lord Is My Shamus.” A man dies falling down the stairs in his home. Everyone thinks it’s an accident—everyone except God, that is. So God decides to send someone back to earth to investigate the situation, and because God has a divinely warped sense of humor, he decides that someone should be Job.
If you like academic mysteries, you’re in luck. In “To Adjuncts Everywhere,” Ellen Herbert gives an inside look of a college campus where money is king, zombies roam at night, and an adjunct professor is trying to get a tenured position while staying alive.
Smita Harish Jain takes a look at a college campus from another perspective in “An Education in Murder.” The next president of Hathaway College plans to dumb down the business department, angering a lot of people. So which one murders him? The county police chief is on the job.
Leone Ciporin’s “A Grain of Truth,” sends a foreboding message to crime authors and even wannabees: If your story matches a real-life crime too closely, the police might become a tad too interested in you. Keep that in mind when you do your online research.
Ever thought it would be glamorous to work in a hotel? Cathy Wiley gives you an inside look in “Miked for Murder.” On the morning of a big function, a man is found dead in the hotel ballroom. Can the hotel’s director save the day without killing her demanding client?
Hotels may be alluring, but even everyday office buildings can become hotbeds of gossip and death when you mix in the right—or wrong—employees. In Donna Andrews’s “Mean Girls,” the woman who runs a human-resources company is murdered and the office’s exploited administrative assistant wonders if the culprit was Mean Girl 1, Mean Girl 2, or Mean Girl 3.
The book concludes with Art Taylor’s “When Duty Calls.” A woman working as an aide to a senile man begins to wonder if he’s right when he says that their house is being watched.
So there you have it. This book will take you to offices, factories, classrooms, and hotel rooms. You can vicariously live the life of a private eye, a mediator, and even a mystery author. You can even accompany Job on an assignment from God.
Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder is available in trade paperback and as an e-book. You can get it from your local bookstore or online. It’s the fifth volume in a series that has garnered two Agatha Award wins, an Anthony Award win, and a half-dozen additional Agatha nominations. Pick up your own copy of this latest volume so you can see what the fuss is all about.