5 Short Stories to Read Right Now

Check out these award-nominated short mysteries for a limited time

Tehra Peace

If short stories bring to mind middle school reading assignments from outdated anthologies, it’s time to take a fresh look. Short stories pack a lot of action into just a handful of pages. These quick reads are perfect for a 10-minute break from work, chores, Netflix, or whatever else is getting in the way of reading all day. (Which is what we all want, isn’t it?)

Earlier this year, the world mystery convention Bouchercon announced the finalists for its 2020 Anthony Awards. You can read these five stories for free, but make sure to do it before the awards are given out on October 16.

One last note: If you’re a big mystery fan, consider registering for Virtual Bouchercon this year. It’s only $55 and a great chance for fans to connect with the authors they follow.

Red Zone” by Alex Segura

Published by Down & Out Books in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico

A backup quarterback finds himself in a make-it-or-break-it moment: one that will not only determine the outcome of the game, but will also prove or disprove his value in the eyes of his racist teammates. In this story of psychological suspense, Raul must decide whether acceptance is truly worth the effort. This is one of two selections from the anthology ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas! to be chosen as a 2020 Anthony Award finalist.

Unforgiven” by Hilary Davidson

Published by Down & Out Books in Murder a-Go-Go’s: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Go’s

Cassie’s husband is dead. Right away, she knows the story she’s being told is not the truth. But with the whole town against her, she’ll need to fight hard if she’s going to learn what really happened to him—and even harder to take vengeance. For a murder mystery, the tone of this short story is light enough not to leave the reader feeling in a funk.

Better Days” by Art Taylor

Published by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May/June 2019

A past-his-prime journalist who’s been laid off from The Washington Post reluctantly starts a new life in a small coastal town. He pines for the bartender who serves up drinks and conversation, but hesitates to make a move until a crude, overgrown frat boy starts flashing his money around town—and the local bar. Bitter and intrigued, he launches into an investigation that will either push him away from or bring him closer the people who really matter in his life.

Turistas” by Hector Acosta

Published by Down & Out Books in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico

Olivia is a jaded detective who’s been hired to find a MAGA youth gone missing in Mexico. The story opens in the desert, where a group of people gather in anticipation, and quickly pivots with a page-two twist that throws you right at the heart of the story. Rich with cultural embellishes and socially provocative questions, it reads at times like a campfire ghost story. At 13 pages, it’s the longest on the list, but it’s so fast-paced that it’s over too soon.

Hard Return” by Art Taylor

Published by Wildside Press in Crime Travel

Art Taylor appears for a second time on this list with a goosebump-inducing story about a man trying to help the new woman in his life work through past trauma. It starts in a familiar, cozy place, but gradually takes on a decidedly supernatural tone. This tale evokes the feeling of something unraveling slowly. Maybe it’s the psychological state of the narrator, or maybe it’s the story itself. Visceral and suspenseful, in the end it’s downright frightening.