As the days grow short and winter looms, the lengthening evenings offer ample time and reason to brood over the nature of darkness. As the stories in this issue attest, a landscape of shadows offers far too many opportunities for both deception and misperception.
One skilled navigator of the shadows is post-war Manhattan private investigator Memphis Red, who confronts shifting motivations, political alliances, and even identities in L. A. Wilson Jr.’s “Harlem Nocturne.” Meanwhile, a young woman who seeks the shadows, trying to escape the consequences of a one-time lapse in judgment, finds she can’t escape those determined to find her in S. L. Franklin’s “Damsels in Distress.” And the shadow of calamity, in the form of drought, leaves a western town vulnerable to a charismatic, and dangerous, itinerant preacher in Gilbert Stack’s “Pandora’s Hoax.”
The idea of the serial killer casts its own dreadful shadow, as the residents of Laskin, South Dakota find in Eve Fisher’s “Darkness Visible.” The neighbors in Robert S. Levinson’s “The House Across the Street” also know a little something about serial killers – and they’re willing to share. And speaking of neighbors, a suspected witch in Kilgore, Texas beguiles her hapless neighbor in William Dylan Powell’s “The Darkness and the Light.”
Photographer Anita Ray takes up the cause of an American mathematician-turned-nun who is brutally attacked but who refuses to talk to the police in Susan Oleksiw’s “A Slight Deviation from the Mean.” And Tara Laskowski gets into the head of another woman in a brutal situation in her short-short “Hostage.”
To mitigate the darkness a bit, mid-level coworkers wreak their own special brand of havoc in plain sight in Robert Lopresti’s “The Chair Thief,” while R. T. Lawton’s Holiday Burglars return in “Black Friday,” where they must face up to their competition.
Each of B. K. Stevens’s Leah Abrams mysteries take place around a different Jewish holiday, and “Death Under Construction” is set during the fall harvest festival of Sukkot. Leah takes a temp job at a firm that makes luxury doghouses while she works on her academic tome on workplace communications, so she is receptive to the subtle clues when the firm’s manger is killed in the storeroom.
We welcome back to these pages Carol Cail, with her tale of mysterious goings-on and hidden rooms at a seniors’ community in “Ghost Busters.” And we welcome Anna Castle, whose first story for us is “For Want of a Book,” featuring a young Francis Bacon.
This issue also features the second installment of our new feature The Case Files: this time, Steve Hockensmith brings to light some cutting-edge mystery-related podcasts. We’re sure you’ll want to check them out.
So there’s no need to be afraid of the dark when you have such a substantial issue of great stories with which to while away the evenings.
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by Anna Castle
The cold wind blowing down Paternoster Row snatched at Francis Bacon’s hat. He grabbed it before it flew from his head and pulled it firmly down, hunching forward into the wind. He ought to be snug in his bed with a fur-lined coverlet and a hot posset, absorbed in his study of Niccolò Machiavelli’s works, not risking his health out of doors so early on a March morning. READ MORE
by S. L. Franklin
Please, Mr. Carr, please find our baby.
When Dawn O’Dell’s parents showed up ten minutes early for their appointment, it was easy to see that they were nervous as well as troubled. I was on the phone in the inner sanctum, which meant that they had to wait in the reception area for a while, and neither one could seem to sit still. The father paced, the mother wandered, and through the open doorway I watched their paths cross several times as I held the line to get an insurance question answered. READ MORE
by Robert C. Hahn
In his debut novel, The Bloody Black Flag: A Spider John Mystery (Seventh Street, $15), Steve Goble combines two well-established traditions—the pirate novel and the mystery—for an unusual, engaging book. READ MORE
We give a prize of $25 to the person who invents the best mystery story (in 250 words or less, and be sure to include a crime) based on the photograph provided in each issue. The story will be printed in a future issue. READ THE MOST RECENT WINNING STORY.
Acrostic puzzle by Arlene Fisher
Solve the clues to reveal an interesting observation about an author and their work! Shh! The solution to the puzzle will appear in the next issue. CURRENT ISSUE'S PUZZLE
by Willie Rose
Solve the puzzle to reveal a quotation from a short mystery story! CURRENT ISSUE'S PUZZLE