There are few better sources of drama than the family, as many of the stories in this issue illustrate. If one is well advised to keep friends close and enemies closer, then perhaps one must keep family members closest of all.
A death in the family often provides an occasion for changes—such as for the widow in Charles Todd’s “The Trophy” who seeks solace in the countryside of southern Wales, or the woman in Jane K. Cleland’s “Night Flight to Bali,” who is suddenly freed to cash in a forged painting upon the death of her domineering mother.
Or family ties may throw up walls that are difficult for outsiders to penetrate, such as in the investigation into possible insurance fraud involving a disabled teen and his mother in John Shepphird’s “Electric Boogaloo,” or the tangled relationships revealed by the court transcript of a case of a contested will in Eve Fisher’s “Happy Families.”
But sometimes such ties can be powerful motivators—such as for the Muslim woman who hires Beijing P.I. Il yong to find the Uighur son she’d given up for adoption in Martin Limón’s “The Smuggler of Samarkand”—or sources of support and encouragement, such as Jack Tait finds in his formidable aunts as he tries to prevent a rush to judgment against a black tenant farmer in the Depression-era South in “How Lon Pruitt Was Found Murdered in an Open Field with no Footprints Around,” by Mike Culpepper.
Other stories in this issue feature a perfect storm of disasters for Deputy Hector Moody when his car breaks down in the Gallatin mountain range in David Edgerley Gates’s “Cabin Fever”; the outsized dreams of a mid-level accountant in Max Gersh’s “Self-Portrait”; a copyeditor using her wits to foil an e-mail scammer in Steve Hockensmith’s “i”; a volatile partnership between a writer and an actor in Janice Law’s “The Front Man”; an aging spy recalled to action in Michael Mallory’s “Aramis and the Worm”; Dr. John H. Watson encounters a gentleman with a strange health regimen in “The Vampire of Edinburgh” by J. G. Tipton.
No matter the state of your relations with other relatives, our readers are valued members of the AHMM family.
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by Jane K. Cleland
Sabrina Ellison sat alone in the front pew of the First Congregational Church, her mother’s church. She wore a black long-sleeved sheath that fell to just below her knees and low heels.
Sabrina tucked her shoulder-length brown hair behind her ears and focused on the altar. She wasn’t sorry Eve was dead, she couldn’t lie about that, not when the truth was she was relieved. With her mother gone, her own life could begin. She glanced over her right shoulder. READ MORE
by John Shepphird
My grandfather’s gun betrayed me.
I’d brought the pistol with me—the vintage Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32—the same model John Dillinger carried because it’s small enough to conceal. I got off a few shots, but the meek .32 caliber failed to penetrate the Land Rover’s windshield. The truck hit me, broke two ribs, but that was nothing compared to being caught below the SUV’s undercarriage. My jacket snagged in the rear axle and the pavement skinned me alive.
by Robert C. Hahn
It’s doubtful that Thomas Harris had any idea what Silence of the Lambs would precipitate in the way of knock-off titles. Gayle Leeson’s second Down South Cafe Mystery is titled Silence of the Jams (Berkley, $7.99) and Laura Bradford’s second Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery is titled The Silence of the Flans (Berkley, $7.99).
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