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The Finest in Crime and Suspense Short Fiction

Current Issue Highlights

You Can Go Back, But . . .

In real life, many crimes are opportunistic, unpremeditated, even unintentional. But in fiction, some of the most interesting crime stories feature characters wrestling with the long-term consequences of actions and decisions deep in their past. Just as our understanding of past events changes over time, many of the characters in this issue come to view their personal histories and choices, or those of others, through new, perhaps world-weary, eyes. 

In James A. Hearn’s “When the Dam Breaks,” a popular politician, working with a ghostwriter on his memoir, reflects on his early life as an up-and-comer. In Michael Nethercott’s “Polk, Pitts, and Cadaver,” a dying confession leads a young vaudeville performer to suss out the truth of a tragic misadventure. A writer in Janice Law’s “The Bosky Dell” finds a portal to his earlier life and a chance to revisit a fateful decision. And a horrible incident in the past and a split-second decision in the present unite two women in Iain Rowan’s “Scars.”

The past, of course, also offers rich settings for crime stories. A young man is on his way to his first job when the stagecoach he is riding in is beset by bandits in John M. Floyd’s “The Donovan Gang.” The owner of a gambling riverboat in 1950s St. Louis tracks down the story behind some uncomfortable news in “The People Said Beware,” by Christopher Latragna. James R. Benn’s “Irish Tommy” is a colorful procedural set in Boston during World War II. Dr. John H. Watson looks into vandalism at a railway tunnel project in Wales in James Tipton’s “The Green Man.” And Edith Maxwell continues her new series set in 1921, with two female detectives taking on the case of a woman scientist who had been complaining of sabotage and is then found dead.

And in other tales, evil is close at hand in “A Stranger in the House,” by Sharon Hunt. A drink in a hotel bar leads to a disorienting cascade of events for an Atlanta man in L. A. Wilson, Jr.’s “Victim of Circumstance.” Il Yong, Martin Limón’s private eye in Beijing, travels to an ancient, underground city to retrieve a tycoon’s kidnapped son in “Dragon Well.” In “Becoming Ian Fleming,” Kevin Egan tells the story of two boys at a pivotal point in their lives. And Melissa Yi’s “My Two-Legs” features a protagonist who is a perceptive and loyal companion.

We trust that at some point in the future, you will look back with pleasure on reading these tales. 

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FICTION

Becoming Ian Fleming
by Kevin Egan

Late in the summer my uncle ran for mayor, three convicts in transit between two prisons escaped into the woods on the outskirts of town. My cousin and I were campaigning on that hot, sleepy afternoon, a chore that entailed asking neighbors if we could plant signs bearing my uncle’s name in their yards. We were in front of Billy Nardozzi’s house when we heard the sirens in the distance, but we paid them little mind because we were dickering over whether we should knock on the door. Mr. Nardozzi’s truck was not in the driveway, which meant he was out working somewhere in town. A second-floor window was open, and behind the screen a typewriter pattered fitfully. We had only one sign left, one sign that separated us from the rest of a summer day and the hope that we could catch a ride to the beach. My cousin, however, hesitated.

“Let’s come back when Mr. Nardozzi is here,” he said. “He fixed our roof in the spring.” READ MORE


Scars
by Iain Rowan

“Say that again,” Alice said. She must have misheard. She was used to Emma calling at all hours, sharing triumphs and disasters. She had been woken at three a.m. to dissect the attractions of a new colleague, summoned pink and dripping from the bath to hear Emma sobbing over his leaving, comforted her through plumbing disasters and dying goldfish, and sometimes her attention wandered.

“I’ve killed him,” Emma said.

“Em, be serious.”

“I’ve hit him with my car, and I meant to do it, Alice, I’ve hit him and I’ve killed him.”

Alice knew it was important to take control now. “Take a deep breath. Tell me, step by step, what has happened.” READ MORE

DEPARTMENTS

Booked & Printed
by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

In childhood, the friendship between two girls can generate a particular force that reverberates far into the future. The bond might be a refuge, a safe place where two children can grow together. The friendship might also grow corrosive, with tragic and needless consequences. This month, Booked and Printed examines two stories of female friendships in all their warmth and complication: relationships that sometimes sustain, and sometimes destroy. 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


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 Wimsey
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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