Friday, June 26, 2015

Two Birds: A Short Mystery (Vicki Tyley)

One of my collecting ambitions is to start laying in more issues of the classic mystery digest magazines of the postwar period, such as Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. A good introductory piece on these can be found at The Thrilling Detective Web Site.

Vicki Tyley's Two Birds, which is available for Kindle, is just exactly the sort of short story that would have been published in AHMM or EQMM in their heyday (or still, for that matter; both those magazines remain on the newsstands). Of necessity, a short crime story with a whodunit element is light on setting and texture because of space considerations; it might have an almost geometric quality, and so it is with Two Birds. It might take place anywhere.

But Vicki Tyley is a New Zealander transplanted to Australia, and since I have always been very attracted to Australia, I am curious to take a look at her full-length novels (five so far) for their local flavor. Mysteries with a strong sense of place are self-recommending for me.

The element of Two Birds that grabbed my attention was the psychology of the protagonist, Daniel Abbey, from whose POV the story is told. The thoughts of a married womanizer who suffers no apparent guilt or even particular concern over his habits is fascinating to me. "Don Draper!" you immediately think, but I ask you, do we ever really get Don from the inside? I haven't seen Mad Men all the way to its conclusion yet, but in the four seasons I have watched, I haven't developed a sense of how Don really thinks about what he does. He remains somewhat opaque (but still fascinating, of course).

Daniel Abbey is a little different story, because we are given access to his mental processes. Tyley effectively hints at a whole string of adulteries (and some other intriguing bits of backstory, such as the death of a brother-in-law in a "boating accident," hmm). My reader feedback to Vicki Tyley is, go all the way with this theme sometime! It truly has a lot of potential. And you have definite insight into this type of masculine psychology.

Two Birds (A Short Mystery)


  1. Hi Patrick -- Thanks so much for your review. I'm thrilled you enjoyed Two Birds. I really appreciate your take on the psychology aspects.

  2. Great to hear from you! I look forward to reading more of your work.