Monday, July 08, 2024

Review: "Bertie's Mom" by Jeremiah Healy

“Bertie’s Mom”

by Jeremiah Healy

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Sep. 1989


“Bertie’s Mom”—which by my count is Jeremiah Healy’s third John Francis Cuddy short story, published between series entries Swan Dive (1988) and Yesterday’s News (1989)—is a clever tale with a sense of humor and a beautiful nudge of irony. When Cuddy is approached by a moderately wealthy elderly widow to find her parakeet, Bertie, he tells her: “Mrs. Addison, I can’t find a parakeet.”

But Mrs. Addison convinces John Cuddy he should at least try. Bertie disappeared when Mrs. Addison’s townhouse was burgled—nothing other than the bird was taken. Cuddy starts his search at the pet store where Bertie was purchased and one clue leads him to next until…well, he solves the mystery.

“Bertie’s Mom” is a top-notch, almost whimsical without ever being irrelevant, mystery story with a brilliantly twisty ending and an admirably ironic solution. In other words, it kept me turning the pages wondering what was going to happen and, in the end, made me smile. It leans more traditional, but should appeal to readers of hardboiled mysteries, too.

The cover of the Sep. 1989 issue may be the worst, most unrelated, cover of any EQMM I’ve seen. I mean, Hulk Hogan alongside the blurb, 10 WITH MUSCLE, is sorta lame. It does, however, have a solid line-up of stories by writers like Julian Symons, Edward D. Hoch, and James Powell.


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