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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Welcome to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine! Discover original, spine-tingling stories by top-notch authors and new writers from all corners of the mystery genre, plus news, reviews, and more… to make your blood run cold!

EXCERPTS:
The Lure of the Crocodile
Thomas K. Carpenter

Woodstock
Michael Bracken

BOOK REVIEWS:
Booked & Printed
Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

EDITOR'S NOTES:
Don't Go There. . .
Linda Landrigan

MYSTERIOUS PHOTOGRAPH:
The Story That Won
In 250 words or less...
 

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Time to turn a new page! If 2020 was the year we thought would never end, 2021 arrives full of promise. Perhaps during the lockdown of 2020 you caught up on reading or finally finished writing that novel. . .

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Over 60 Years of Awards

157 Nominations from the full breadth of mystery genres

37 Award-winning stories 

Edgar, Agatha, Barry, Arthur Ellis, Robert L. Fish, Macavity, Shamus, Thriller, Anthony

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FROM THE EDITOR
Great stories of any genre are rooted in characters — well-drawn, individual, and credibly motivated…

ABOUT AHMM
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine is one of the oldest and most influential magazines of short mystery and crime fiction in the world. Launched over 60 years ago, today AHMM maintains a tradition of featuring both promising aspiring writers and talented authors, spanning the full spectrum of sub-genres from dark noir to graphic works.

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Meet the Who’s Who of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine authors! View The Lineup of contributors in the current issue, see what motivates our writers, and much more.

CURRENT ISSUE
In these pandemic times, when even a trip to the supermarket is fraught with peril, we can at least pursue vicarious new experiences through the widely traveled characters of our November/December issue. Their travails across the crime spectrum, in both the present and the past, transport us to far-flung places—and drop us into situations that we would perhaps rather experience on the page than in person anyway. Take Magistrate Ovid’s dangerous path between the underworld of ancient Alexandria and the temple of the crocodile god in Tom Carpenter’s “The Lure of the Crocodile.” Or Michael Bracken’s suburban housewife, whose detour takes her to a life-altering concert in “Woodstock.”

THE CRIME SCENE
"Skeletons in the Closet”… Get the latest news, check out Editor Linda Landrigan's blog, enjoy lively podcasts, test your mystery puzzling mettle, see if you have what it takes to be a mystery writer. It's all here.

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An Inside Look

Lure-of-the-Crocodile-Kimberly-Cho
Art by Kimberly Cho

The Lure of the Crocodile

by Thomas K. Carpenter

The news of the murder had flown through the Rhakotis district like a swarm of locusts, leaving nothing but naked fear in its wake. Magistrate Ovid had been ensconced in his bath, laboriously drawn with the help of his only servant, when he heard about it. Though he’d been looking forward to relaxing in the warm water, he immediately climbed out, toweling off his considerable girth, and prepared for the journey to the western part of the city.

The Rhakotis district was unlike the other six districts of Alexandria. Besides being the largest, populated primarily with Egyptians that held neither wealth nor political power, it was only lightly controlled by the Roman Empire. Instead, the district ran on a system of favors and thuggery, headed by a man only known as Black Omari.

His name suggested many things, but it only meant one. The shadows of men were known as watchers from the god Osiris, the Egyptian god of death. Nothing that went on in the Rhakotis district was not unknown by Black Omari because his shadows were everywhere, which was all the more concerning because the victim in question was the crime lord’s favorite nephew—Teti of the Knife.

 

Magistrate Ovid found Black Omari on the banks of a wide canal that originated in Lake Mareotis and wound through the district on its way to the Mediterranean. The bronze-skinned Egyptian stood beneath a shade tree where a table had been set as if it were a cafe. He was surrounded by thick-necked thugs, while a crowd of women wailed over a body.

The location of the murder sank any of Ovid’s hopes that this would be a simple affair, as this was a favorite resting spot of Black Omari’s. He liked watching the children of the district playing in the cool canal waters, seeing himself as his benevolent protector from the conquering Romans.

As the sun blistered against Ovid’s flesh, turning beads of sweat into rivers on his back, he sensed events as a bowstring pulled taut, ready to lose a flaming arrow into a pitch-filled barrel. While deeply corrupt, Black Omari kept the district in relative calm. If this murder had anything to do with a rival faction, the Rhakotis might erupt in chaos, and the praetor—and eventually the governor—would land the blame squarely at Ovid’s feet. So he adjusted his robes, tugging on the purple sash that indicated his office, before approaching the knot of men.

Upon seeing him, Black Omari dismissed his men with a simple wave of the hand. The crime lord wore a mask of anger that smoothed away his wrinkles. He appeared as the jackal-faced god with cold, judging eyes.

“What good is Empire if cannot keep its people safe?” Omari asked mockingly, his voice cracking with grief, the only sign Ovid had ever seen of the man’s humanity.

“My condolences,” said Ovid, trying to keep his tone honorific yet not subservient. “I will use the Empire’s considerable resources in finding the murderer.” READ MORE

 

 

Woodstock_Ron-Chironna
Art by Ron Chironna

Woodstock

by Michael Bracken

Friday, August 15, 1969

Shirley Warner pulled her meadow-green Corvair to the side of the road and slowed to a crawl as she leaned over to speak through the open passenger window to the longhaired young man walking along the shoulder. He wore a multicolored tie-dyed T-shirt, bell-bottom jeans, and sandals. Over his right shoulder hung an Army-surplus duffel bag, and a service station map of New York State occupied his left hand. She asked, “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to the music festival,” he said, “up there in Woodstock.”

Shirley hadn’t heard anything about a festival, but she was headed in that direction. “You want a ride?”

The young man slowed, stuck his head through the open window when Shirley stopped the Corvair, and looked at her. A few days past thirty-six, Shirley wore her peroxide-blonde hair in a flipped bob, much like the actress on Bewitched, faux pearls, and a pale blue sheath dress belted at the waist. In her haste to leave home she had not bothered with stockings, and because she was driving, the hem of her dress rested well above her knees. Though the young man could not see them from his vantage point, she also wore low-heeled white pumps.

“Sure,” he said as he opened the passenger door and threw his duffel into the Corvair’s rear seat.

Shirley moved her bulging white clutch and tucked it between the bucket seats before the young man climbed in beside her.

“Straight on,” he said as she shifted the Corvair into gear and eased the car back onto the road. “I’ll let you know when to turn.”

Shirley glanced at her passenger. “You have a name?”

“Josh,” he said, “but I’m thinking of changing it to Aquarius.”

“Why? Josh is a nice name.”

“It’s so white-bread,” he said. “It doesn’t reflect the inner me. What about you?”

“Shirley,” she said.

He looked her up and down. “You look like a Shirley.”

“Really? What’s a Shirley look like?”

“A housewife. Her old man takes the train into the city five days a week, expects dinner on the table and a fresh martini waiting when he gets home. Most exciting thing a Shirley does is watch Wild Kingdom Sunday nights to see if Jim Fowler gets mauled by something.”

Her passenger’s assessment of a Shirley’s life wasn’t far off the mark, and Shirley stared at her wedding ring set as she drove. After a moment, she tugged the rings from her finger, threw them out the window, and said, “Well, that’s behind me. . . .”

 READ MORE

 





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