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The Finest in Crime and Suspense Short Fiction

Current Issue Highlights

Ars Athletica

Heightened passions, intense competition, pride and prizes, the athletic arts inevitability offer a fair field for murder and crime, an opportunity that several stories in the current issue take full advantage of.

Mark Hannon captures the violent choreography of a boxing match in “Doing Business.” Dave Waskin describes the pressure endured by a star college basketball player in “The Last Shot.” Jim Fusilli explores the motivations that drive our fascination with baseball in “Gentlemen’s Agreement.” Also, a hiking trip in Hawaii turns into a dangerous and deadly tangle for the police to unravel in Albert Tucher’s “The English Major.” And online gaming proves as competitive as more physical sports, with all the heightened stakes and emotions, in Elizabeth Zelvin’s “Death Will Stream Your Game.”

Meanwhile, at a high school science fair, movie buff Sheriff Douglas meets his match in a precocious teen in John M. Floyd’s “The Pod Squad.” Mistrust of a new client sends New Orleans P.I. Lucien Caye deep into the world of art forgeries in “The Little Irène Escapade” by O’Neil De Noux. Intrepid Vegas-based stylist Stacey Deshay travels to New Orleans to comfort a friend, and hear the reading of a will, in “Bayou Blues” by Shauna Washington. A retired Ecuadoran Capitán Guillén steps up for an old colleague who is being blackmailed in “El Abuelo del Jugador” by Tom Larsen. And an investigator of a different sort ferrets out the fate of a dispersed litter of kittens in Jeff Somers’s tale “The Little Birds.”

After a hold-up, a quick-thinking waitress makes some key connections in “Smitty’s Roadside Diner” by Michael Bracken and Sandra Murphy. Mark Thielman interweaves the history of a dead town with a couple’s present predicament in “The Ties That Bind.”

We’re delighted to offer readers a ringside view of the winners and losers, the heroes and the scamps; that’s entertainment to cheer for.

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Smitty’s Roadside Diner
by Michael Bracken and Sandra Murphy 

Smitty’s Roadside Diner had served travelers for nearly a century, but after the new highway bypassed Smithville, business had dwindled to a trickle. That Tuesday morning only three people were in the diner—the cook, the waitress, and a lone coffee drinker sitting in the rear booth, his back to the wall. He was more than three-cups-of-black jittery, and Ellen kept her eye on him.

He wore a dirty olive-green army jacket and had longish, unwashed black hair, several days’ growth of facial hair, and dark, unfocused eyes that darted back and forth. He didn’t look like a tweaker, one of the methamphetamine addicts who sometimes visited the diner, but he did look like the kind of customer who wouldn’t leave a tip and might even skip out on paying for the coffee. If he did, Ellen would cover the dollar and a half herself. She understood what he was going through. Since leaving her boyfriend the previous year, she’d had days when buying a cup of coffee meant not having enough gas money to get to work. READ MORE

Bayou Blues
by Shauna Washington 

I watched the two women dressed in purple, yellow, and white stomping to the beat of the trumpets, trombones, and saxophone horns while waving their handkerchiefs back and forth. They grabbed at the giddy, willing patrons, engaging in a two-step while walking through the lobby of the hotel. Not wanting to be grabbed myself, I quickly slipped out the front doors and into the sweltering heat that was so oppressive I felt like I could cut the humidity with a knife. It was no wonder that the shuttle bus driver from the airport had a smirk on his face as he dropped me off at this place.

So this was Louisiana, I reflected, and more specifically, New Orleans. I’d heard so much about the South, and the city, that I was anxious to see it, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how hot and sticky it was. I felt my hair go from a Beyoncé flat iron to a Diana Ross blowout. READ MORE


Booked & Printed
by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

Sometimes, even the best sleuths grit their teeth at the difficulties of a potential investigation. The climate may be too perilous, the society too much trouble, the truth too elusive—perhaps one not worth knowing. Though an investigator might at first deny the individuals beseeching them for their skills, some catalysts of crime are simply too powerful for the justice-driven to disregard. This month, Booked and Printed examines two novels of reluctant sleuths buffeted by dangerous elements, struggling toward the truth. 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 THIS ISSUE’S WINNING STORY

Microscopic Murder
by Lee Lofland

Knives and guns pale in comparison to the instruments of death that are nearly invisible to the human eye. These tiny, but deadly, microorganisms can destroy every organ, and they can shut down the body’s entire operating system. READ MORE

Dying Words
Acrostic puzzle by Arlene Fisher

Solve the clues to reveal an interesting observation about an author and their work! Shh! Puzzle updated with every new issue. CURRENT ISSUE’S PUZZLE

Scrambled Leonard
by Mark Lagasse

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

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