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The Finest in Crime and Suspense Short Fiction

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Reading the Signs

In any mystery, the careful deployment of clues, character, setting, and foreshadowing can be seen as the author’s fingerprints. Even if the basic set-up of a story is familiar, the writer’s command of their tools and craft can keep the reader hooked until the final paragraph. Where the investigator’s role is to reveal the significance of each clue, the author’s is to conceal the labor required to create the story. At AHMM, we strive for variety in approach and style, but always seek the kind of writing that will keep the reader thumbing through, leaving their own prints all over the issue.

In Mark Thielman’s “A Study with Scarlett,” actual signage plays a role when an unfortunate error catches the attention of a beautiful woman. A former cop just starting his own security agency misreads the signs when he is invited to an unusual interview for a job in “The Accessories Club” by Robert Lopresti. Three reunited friends parse clues concerning the fate of their beloved high school art teacher in “Claire’s Cabin” by Catherine Dilts. In Michael Bracken’s procedural “Beat the Clock,” Detective Highlander sorts out the welter of clues surrounding the death of a widower. And a man making a jailbreak with the help of his brother questions the brother’s motives in “Toe on the Ladder” by John Paxton Sheriff.

Aided by the young radio producer Margo Banning, famed criminologist Philip St. Pierre broadcasts clues concerning Nazi spies to all of New York in Terence Faherty’s “Margo and the Yachting Party.” Eighth Army CID officers Ernie Bascom and George Sueño try desperately to track down a mugger whose attacks are escalating in brutality in “Kimchi Kitty” by Martin Limón. And in another race against time, a rural Pennsylvania police department is tested by the return of a violent criminal with a literary bent in Dennis McFadden’s “The Poet of Dagus Mines.” A perilous situation arises when a young teen takes in a starving Russian conscript and nurses him back to health in William McCormick’s historical “An Alias for the Angel.”

The consequences of crime are evident in “Parenthetical,” by Mike McHone as a husband’s affair takes a deadly toll on his family and mistress. A wife looking for a little respite from her husband’s PTSD sets off a chain reaction in “Would You Like a Remedy?” by Karen Harrington. The murder of a demeaning theater director sows doubt and suspicion among cast and crew in “Twelve Angry Actors” by Nina Mansfield. And finally, in “Moving Day” by Joseph S. Walker, an ex-con must earn a woman’s trust in order to complete a job.

The signs are all here: thirteen thrilling tales for your reading pleasure.

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Margo and the Yachting Party
by Terence Faherty

“In a past life, I must’ve been Jack the Ripper.” The speaker was Raymond Pedigo, producer of a weekly radio program, Gotham Goings On. “Or maybe the guy who shot President Garfield. It must’ve been something terrible for me to be punished like this.”

His assistant, Margo Banning, who was standing behind Pedigo in the little control booth of Studio A, was moved to pat her boss on the shoulder. She didn’t act on the impulse, having recently met the formidable Mrs. Pedigo, but she sympathized nonetheless. READ MORE

Toe on the Ladder
by John Paxton Sheriff

The roar of the engine and the howl of the siren faded and were borne away on the wind.

I let my breath go in an explosive gasp, dug hooked fingers into the wet mud, and wearily dragged myself out of the weeds and the slime, and on all fours clawed my way up the steep bank from the ditch. When I climbed to my feet my shoes squelched and the wind and driving rain hit me, and I stood shivering on the verge, while the taillights of the police car that had sent me diving for cover winked mockingly as it braked for the distant curve. READ MORE


Booked & Printed
by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

The workplace is the site of so much of our lives, with its mundane tasks, interactions with strangers who become colleagues, and striving to meet the expectations of an institution and its higher-ups. When vengeance, lies, and scheming smolder, the workplace can become a tinderbox of crime. This month, Booked and Printed visits books with employees harboring destructive secrets and the lengths to which they’ll go to preserve themselves. 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 Gamadge
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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