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November/December 2020

Don't Go There. . .

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.” When a prodigal son returns to the reservation, he brings with him an alluring whiff of urban crime in Eric Rutter’s “Raven Stole the Sun,” while a British spy returns to the home office to face his past in Mark Sadler’s “At the Coal Face.” Two siblings from Mexico try to make their way in the States, working for an exploitative construction contractor in Doug Levin’s “Tamales for Sale.” A Midwestern transplant to New York has a metropolitan odyssey through the city’s nightlife in Meredith Anthony’s “I’m Right Here.” O’Neil De Noux takes his adroit 1940’s P.I. on an informative excursion in New Orleans in “Dreamboat Gambol.” And low-level mobsters take to small-town New Hampshire seeking to hide out in “A Report on the Ladies’ Playground Committee of Prescott, N.H.” by Brendan DuBois. 

Other stories this month bring criminous dispatches of a more domestic variety. An artist’s obsession with a particular color keeps her rooted in her hometown in “The Color of Murder” by Mary Angela Honerman. A Florida senior gets caught in financial shenanigans, but Clete Dowski is on hand to untangle the mess in John C. Boland’s “Time Sharing.” Upstate New York P.I. Maggie Dove doesn’t take the paranoid church organ player seriously in “Crown Imperial” by Susan Breen. A local newspaper hires clever, if snarky, restaurant reviewers in its struggle to stay relevant—and afloat, in Barb Goffman’s “Eat, Drink, and Be Murdered.” Las Vegas stylist Stacy Deshay is once again on hand when murder strikes, as she is tasked with making young contestants look their best in Shauna Washington’s “A Pageant to Die For.” A bit of office art inspires a payday loan officer to think a bit beyond his station in Robert Mangeot’s “On Loan from the Artist.” And R. T. Lawton introduces us to a new series involving the Irish mob of NYC, and a cop who toes the ethical line in “A Matter of Values.”

Wherever you are at this point in time, let us whisk you away with great crime fiction.

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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. READ MORE



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.  READ MORE


Booked & Printed

by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

In American cities, wealthy power brokers act unseen, some plunging into criminality for their own ends. Their corruption varies: Some work to their own material advantage; others wield their perversions and desires over the vulnerable; still others resort to wanton brutality, reveling in their impunity. When institutions fail to stop these antagonists, it’s up to individuals to respond: with helplessness, with justice, or with retribution. This month, Booked and Printed examines two novels with women combatting power gone rotten on both coasts. One is a professional blackmailer in Los Angeles, the other, an attorney near Atlantic City. Their journeys take place on opposite sides of the law, and opposite sides of the country. But with different means, and different ends, both combat dangerous men. 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.


Case Files: On the Beat on Halloween

by Lee Lofland

I’ve seen a few oddities over the years, especially during the hours after the sun goes down on Halloween, a night when both kids and adults typically dress up as their favorite characters. It’s also a night that a few ghoulish folks believe is the perfect time to commit a plethora of crimes ranging from petty theft to murder.

But there are a few Halloween incidents from my old case files that stand out a bit from the rest, and as it’s been said, you can’t make this stuff up.  READ MORE


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


Scrambled Hitch

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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