Wrap Up a Mystery
It’s that time of the year, a season observed by many with an exchange of gifts. We hope you’ll consider this issue a neatly wrapped package of criminous cadeaux. Variety is always welcome in a bestowal of presents, and so this issue offers a range of delights from the humorous to the spooky; from the past to the present; from the poignant to the puzzling.
Among them: the seasonally-appropriate “Blue Christmas,” in which Melissa Yi’s doctor/sleuth Hope Sze is sitting down to a festive holiday dinner with coworkers when two people suddenly become deathly ill. “The Case of the Truculent Avocado” by Mark Thielman, in which a P.I. supplements his sporadic income with a part-time job dressing up as a potato. Shelly Dickson Carr’s clever tale “The Beacon Hill Suicide,” showcasing historic Boston. What to do about a slobbering dog is the question for a “cleaner” in Zandra Renwick’s “Dead Man’s Dog.” And “A Six-Pipe Problem” by proceduralist master John H. Dirckx.
Several tales pack a powerful emotional punch. A grieving widower in our cover story, Pamela Blackwood’s “Justice,” hears voices and barking late at night, only later learning the significance of those noises. A new tenant in a Queens apartment house unlocks troubling memories for a lonely neighbor in Devon Shepherd’s “The Woman in Apartment 615.” Another newcomer, in “The Man Across the Hall” by Janice Law, has a destabilizing effect on a young married couple in Miami. And Chicago P.I. Kubiak steps into a family drama when an old colleague from the police force asks him to follow his wife in Steve Lindley’s “A Matter of Trust and Surveillance.”
The uncanny and inexplicable also add zest to our holiday package. A pre-Sherlock Dr. J. H. Watson recounts an episode from his time in Afghanistan, revealing what really happened at the Battle of Kandahar in James Tipton’s “Shiva’s Eye.” And our mystery classic features that master of the ghost story, E. F. Benson, with “The Confession of Charles Linkworth.”
And so, best wishes for the season. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, maybe you’ll find a little murder tucked into your stocking for your guilty pleasure.
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by Mark Thielman
Why don’t you just tell me why you killed the turtle?” The deputy asked, giving me the practiced stare he had undoubtedly learned in Intimidation 101.
I shook my head. “He is . . . was,” I corrected myself, “an avocado, not a turtle.”
The deputy paused, momentarily taken aback. The dead guy looked like a turtle: round, dark green shell, mostly smooth, pressed against the floor; light green underside facing up to the fluorescent lights arrayed along the ceiling of Uncle Bob’s Natural Food Emporium. All four green limbs splayed to the sides. Undoubtedly, whenever the deputy pictured a dead turtle, or passed one patrolling some county backroad, he always saw it belly to heaven, shell hard against the farm-to-market. READ MORE
by Shelly Dickson Carr
Could he do it?
Orchestrate his own death?
Having purchased the rope at the hardware store, British-born actor Nigel FitzGibbons wondered if he could hang himself. The exposed beams in the old brownstone he and Felicity were renovating might not hold his weight and, like a magician pulling off a conjuring trick, he only had one chance to make this work.
Hesitating on the cobbled walkway, gas lamps flickering through the early evening fog, Nigel pondered (as he had for weeks) his best options. Poison wouldn’t do. He might get the dosage wrong. If found writhing on the floor of the brownstone clutching his abdomen, he’d be rushed to Mass General Hospital, a tube threaded down his throat attached to a stomach pump. He’d be back at square one. And he didn’t own a gun.
by Jackie Sherbow
Just before this issue went to print, we learned the sad news that Robert C. Hahn had passed away at home in Ohio. The former Cincinnati Post book editor and head librarian helmed this column regularly beginning with the July/August 2004 issue. Those familiar with the column or with Mr. Hahn knew of his avid approach to book coverage. Some fans may remember Hahn’s House of Mystery, a mail-order business that he operated for almost eight years; he also reviewed mysteries for Publishers Weekly. In fact, Robert C. Hahn reviewed mysteries for over thirty years, and several years before his passing tallied that he had reviewed more than 2,350 titles. He brought to these pages his lifelong love of books and enthusiasm for the genre. At AHMM, we’ll miss him. READ MORE
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.
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
by Mark Lagasse
Unscramble the letters of each numbered entry to spell the name of a famous sleuth. MOST RECENT PUZZLE