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Current Issue

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September/October 2019

Tour de Crime

It’s not hard to see why travel is a recurring motif in a lot of crime fiction. Travel takes us out of the familiar to places where anything can happen. Desperados, miscreants, con artists abound: No pocket of the world is immune—and lucky for us, too, for the result can produce some pretty good tales, as this issue shows.

The motives for travel vary as much as those for crimes. Chance encounters on a business trip to Paris propel a C-list scriptwriter up a few notches in “Niall Nelson Is on My Flight” by Jim Fusilli. A Chicago couple’s drying-out trip to a New Mexico resort proves troublesome for its Native American employee in David Hagerty’s “Drinks at the El Navajo.” Marital discord sets sail on a cruise ship in Eve Fisher’s mystery “The Seven-Day Itch.” Ecuadoran P.I. Wilson Salinas takes an unexpected ride when he encounters a distraught mother and an unorthodox shaman in “Aliento del Diablo” by Tom Larsen.

The urge to distance oneself from the quotidian may be ill advised. A quick Caribbean getaway to escape the gray winter of Boston reveals the true nature of two lifelong friends’ bonds in Janice Law’s haunting tale “The Island.” And a remote estate off the coast of England is accessible only by a deadly cable car in Tom Mead’s who- and how-dunit “Incident at Widow’s Perch.”

Elsewhere in this issue: Ancient Rome is the setting of Angela Zeman’s “The Second Tale of Roxanne,” where a favored scribe of the emperor is undermined by vandals. An artist’s obsessions prick the interest—and skepticism—of the law in Emily Devenport’s “Not My Circus, But They Are My Monkeys.” High tech meets the jury trial system in in Brian Cox’s poignant “The Surrogate Initiative,” while a question of adverbs proves surprisingly consequential for two technical writers in Mysti Berry’s “Yorkshire Ripper.” And a struggling playwright confronts her devious old mentor on Brooklyn’s Promenade in Meredith Anthony’s “Eddy Gets His.”

Finally we are delighted to welcome new author Michael Steele Valade, who tells what happens when a newcomer joins a group of seniors in a poker game to die for in “Dead Man’s Hand.” And we welcome back mystery maven Marvin Lachman, who introduces a mystery classic treasure, “The Garden of Smoke” by G. K. Chesterton.

Bon voyage!

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Fiction

The Seven-Day Itch

by Eve Fisher

Carol sat up on the top deck of the cruise ship with a cup of coffee, watching the people below her disembarking and going on shore. Above them, mountains slashed with snow cut into an aching blue sky. Cool air, hot sun, dazzling light, and she had it all to herself.

Almost. Wyatt, one of the ship’s entertainers, had already stopped and chatted with her. Now he stood by the railing on the far side, smoking another cigarette, which accounted for his husky voice. Now here came Amanda Mason, running up the stairs. What was she doing up so early? Of course. She and Wyatt had to meet somewhere, away from husband Kent and Janice, Wyatt’s music partner.

Did she really want to watch them make out? Should she leave? Then again, this was a public place; she had a right to be here. But Wyatt was looking uncomfortable, and she and Russ had long agreed that one rule was to never embarrass or piss off the staff. READ MORE

 
 

Dead Man's Hand

by Michael Steele Valade

Hank Farmer filled a wooden bowl with salt-and-vinegar potato chips and another with honey mustard pretzels, then opened a clear plastic canister of generic cheese doodles and a family-sized bag of traditional Chex Mix and set them all on the table. He arranged them just so, then brushed the crumbs off the green felt tablecloth and onto the floor with one hand and stood there thinking with his hands on his hips.

He thought he remembered that someone in the group liked the nuts in Chex Mix, but he couldn’t remember who. He didn’t know anything about the new guy so thought it must be Andy. Or maybe Gus. Then he wondered whether they still even put nuts in Chex Mix anymore, and right on the heels of that thought he wondered why he hadn’t just asked Elizabeth to get a bag of peanuts instead of Chex Mix if peanuts were what they were after in the first place? READ MORE

Departments

Booked & Printed

by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

The work of the historical novel illuminates the past to light our way to the present. By immersing us in older worlds, showing what characters took for granted as inevitable then, time-traveling historicals help us wonder what we take for granted now. What absurdities and social sins do we unconsciously follow and absorb? How do we maneuver manners, political upheaval, and the tension between social change and private life? This autumn, Booked and Printed examines two young women protagonists facing those questions. Both investigate the tensions of a time and place through their proximity to a mystery. 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.

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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 Highsmith

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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