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July/August 2018

Lights! Camera! Murder!

With its silver screen vibe, July/August is our Summer Blockbuster issue. These mystery stories share important traits with the movies: the tales are vivid and visceral; clever writers direct the reader's focus; and the narratives manipulate perceptions to build drama and suspense. 

A young, naive scriptwriter’s desperation to break into the movies leads him to put his trust in a criminally minded mentor in Kevin Egan’s “The Movie Lover.” The Hollywood set of a gangster picture is also the venue for an act of revenge in Robert S. Levinson’s “Nine Years Later.” The success of a jewelry heist depends on the performance of its “stars” in Rebecca Cantrell’s caper “Homework.” And a poker player, a grifter, and a mobster play their parts to fix—and unfix—a boxing match in Christopher Latragna’s “A Lousy Little Grand.”

Comic book super heroes offer models of strength and action for a young boy who is the target of a murderer’s ire in “Safe” by Meredith Frazier. The theft of a rare medieval manuscript comes with unexpected costs in Robert Mangeot’s “Book of Hours.” How valuable are an artist’s napkin sketches? That’s a question that comes with a story in Albert Ashforth’s “A Tragedy Averted.” Linda Mannheim tells a story of a couple’s struggle during South Africa’s apartheid through letters and other “Documents.” A newspaper reporter in Victorian London who extorts money from wealthy men charged with an “unnatural crime” gets a lesson in humility and humiliation in Eric Rutter’s “Hateful in the Eyes of God.”

Eve Fisher returns to her fictional Laskin, South Dakota, where a young man slips from aspiring suitor to stalker in “Blue Moon.” David Edgerley Gates examines a fateful armed bank robbery where one of the hostages is the mother of the responding officer in “I Pray the Lord My Soul to Take.” Josh Pachter also takes on an armed robbery, this one set in a restaurant where a married couple are matching wits over dinner, in “Not My Circus.” 

We’re pleased to present our 11th annual Black Orchid Novella Award winner: Mark Thielman’s “The Black Drop of Venus” features Captain James Cook playing the ratiocinative sleuth on board HMS Endeavour.

This issue we welcome two new authors, Rebecca Cantrell and Meredith Frazier, as we sadly say goodbye to two of our favorite authors, Robert S. Levinson and Albert Ashforth. Bob Levinson was a movie lover and a fixture in the music industry in Hollywood; he wrote with insight and sympathy about the characters in and around the industry and city. He had a knack for hearing the crazy inner voices that propelled his characters, and conveyed that in his tales. Albert Ashforth, always a quiet, friendly face in New York mystery circles, wrote about US army retired special investigator Alex Klear in stories that captured the complexity of the operative’s mind as well as the world he worked in. 

Rebecca Cantrell’s historical novels featuring Hannah Vogel are set in 1930s Germany and have won multiple awards and nominations. She also writes a humorous PI series and a thriller series set in the tunnels of New York City, and she cowrites with James Rollins The Order of the Sanguines series that blends myth and history into a thriller.

Meredith Frazier’s first published story appeared in our sister publication, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.

So get ready to fire up the cinema of the mind’s eye. What could be more appropriate for a magazine named after a famous film director?

Get your copy now!



by Rebecca Cantrell

Flames licked the ceiling.

“Damn dog is up on a ladder.” Ada didn’t move from her position leaning against the wall because she didn’t want to wrinkle her dress. She had to take it back when this performance was over.

“It’s from the peanut butter sandwich.” Silas grabbed the Irish setter by her elegant hindquarters and lifted her back down to the floor. “Bad girl, Flames!” READ MORE


Book of Hours

by Robert Mangeot

No self-respecting pro would let his doom get this impending. Last year I’d been wandering the Marchesa Ruggieri’s Lombard estate, not hurting anybody, rummaging among her valuables. In her drawing room I’d come across a rare medieval manuscript. An illuminated book of hours, to us in one form or another of the manuscript business, a devotional meant for moments of inner reflection. Her particular devotional had fetched a not-too-shabby price even after the gentleman’s discount.  READ MORE

Black Orchid Novella Award

The Black Drop of Venus

by Mark Thielman

“Pass the preserves, will you, Jim?” I asked.

I received the reply I intended.

Bent over the cramped table, the captain lowered his chin slightly and stared at me, his fixed gaze crossing his lined forehead, mouth set in a scowl. He made no effort to push the compote in my direction.

Fortunately, the close quarters of the HMS Endeavour allowed me to reach across the table and retrieve the jar myself. READ MORE



Booked & Printed

by Robert C. Hahn

There’s no end to what authors can do with characters created by other writers. Sometimes even the original author becomes a character as well. No fictional sleuth has spawned more offshoots than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Authors both established and aspiring have borrowed Doyle’s creations and taken them in radically different directions.

Some have borrowed ancillary characters, too, such as Holmes’s housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson, his brother Mycroft, or his nemesis, Professor Moriarty; others have constructed humorous pastiches such as Robert L. Fish’s “The Incredible Schlock Homes”(1965) or the more admiring efforts of H. Paul Jeffers in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Stalwart Companions (1978). READ MORE


Mysterious Photograph

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.


Dying Words

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


Mixed-up Sleuths

by Mark Lagasse

Unscramble the letters of each numbered entry to spell the name of a famous sleuth.  MOST RECENT PUZZLE