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2019 Derringer Finalist Barry Lancet

I'm a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, an informal association of writers, publishers, and fans that has kept mystery & crime short stories in the public eye since 1996. On April 4, the Society announced the finalists for its 2019 Derringer Awards. An April 15–30 vote of the membership determined the winners, announced May 1.

I still hope to interview any 2019 finalists I've missed. Email me your answers to the following questions.

Barry Lancet's March 2018 Down & Out: The Magazine story "Three-Star Sushi" was a Best Novelette Derringer contender.


Briefly describe your story.

A Japanese family calls on Jim Brodie, an old family friend, to find their kidnapped daughter and pry their ninth-generation Tokyo sushi shop loose from the yakuza and a shady land developer. Demons enough for one case, but Brodie finds worse demons under the family’s own roof.

What were the most difficult and most enjoyable parts of writing the story?

I always want to take readers on a tour of places they haven’t been. The new place this time around is the world of sumo, with its behemoth wrestlers. This was a lot of fun to write—and a challenge to catch the spirit and the excitement of a sumo tournament. At the end of this segment Brodie must face two yakuza soldiers sent to bring him down. It is first of two climatic scenes of in this long “novelette.”

A more difficult section to write was the second climax, involving the intricacies of a Japanese family wrapped up in mukoyoshi, the old custom of taking on a Japanese male heir when a boy child is not born into the family. Often, the “adopted male” is someone who works in the family business and ends up marrying the daughter of the family. It’s a complex dynamic, especially in these times, and it can lead to complication of the most unexpected kind.

How does it feel to be a Derringer finalist?

Just great. Winner or short-listed, I’m extremely grateful. Writing mysteries is fun but hard work, and writing across cultures at the same time is even harder. So it’s nice to be appreciated. Plus there’s a pleasant symmetry here. Japantown, my first mystery-thriller, won the Barry Award for Best Debut Novel. I’ve written three more books featuring Jim Brodie since. Now, the first Brodie story has been short-listed for a Derringer.

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