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Current Issue


November/December 2021

The Long Game

Publishing is a long game. From a story’s conception to its acceptance for publication to the day the magazine hits newsstands and mailboxes can take months, not to mention the collaboration of many people. Fiction, too, is a long game: A good story keeps the reader guessing until the end, but the satisfaction of the payoff may linger in the reader’s mind for years.

At AHMM, we’ve been playing the long game for six and a half decades. December marks the anniversary of our first publication. We’ve striven over that time to keep readers entertained with stories that pack a punch. Along the way, we’ve introduced many new authors and published new material from established favorites.

New to us this issue are Ellen Tremiti, whose detective contemplates new media and new life stages in “The Influencer”; and Edith Maxwell, no stranger to publishing, but here with her first AHMM story, “An Excellent Team,” in which she introduces two spunky young ladies in 1919 Oregon who solve a crime the local authorities won’t touch. W. H. Cameron returns for his sophomore appearance with “Christmas Spirit,” a dramatic tale of death and survival in the icy North.

This issue also brings you stories that shine a new light on some familiar characters. Dr. John H. Watson undertakes a case of his own (without the help of his friend Holmes) when a farmer brings him his woes in James G. Tipton’s “The Curse of Edwin Grange.” Tom Larsen’s “Oro de Tontos” reintroduces Ecuadoran P.I. Wilson Salinas with a story of the recovering alcoholic’s first case. R. T. Lawton’s young 18th century Parisian pickpocket picks up a few facts of life as well as a few trade secrets in “Green Eyes.” And Brendan DuBois reveals a sentimental side to a couple of hardened hitmen in “Killers: A Story of Love in Four Acts.”

The past catches up to the present in Christopher E. Long’s story “The Mission,” while Mark Thielman’s parolee can’t shed his past fast enough in “Dry Bones.” An invented past haunts a tech geek in “The Trouble with Rebecca” by Larry Light. Passion for the sport of baseball leads to desperate criminal acts in Jim Fusilli’s “LOOGY,” and a simmering desperation underlies Sharon Hunt’s family tragedy, “Digging Through Fog.”

This anniversary issue is an appropriate time to celebrate the long association of Loren Estleman and John H. Dirckx with AHMM; their stories, of course, are as fresh as ever. Estleman’s Four Horsemen, vice cops in wartime Detroit, confiscate a carload of contraband in “Chicago Lightning.” Chalk it up to hubris when an up-and-comer trips on his own con in Dirckx’s “By His Own Hand.”

We’re pleased to celebrate this milestone with our new and long-term readers and writers. We hope to come together in these pages for many years to come.

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An Excellent Team

by Edith Maxwell

It was a Tuesday morning when everything changed for Ruth Skinner.

As she walked past the massive Baker Boyer Bank building on Walla Walla’s busy main street, a young lady cried out near the end of the block. A man in a natty suit and bowler clapped a hand over her mouth. His hand on her arm in an iron grasp, he dragged her around the corner. A black touring car slowed. Its female driver gaped but didn’t stop.

Ruth set her mouth and hurried to the side street, but it was empty. Peering into the alley behind the building, she saw the man shaking the woman by the shoulders of her fitted red suit.

“Don’t you ever show your tawdry self in there again,” he snarled. He slapped her face with such force it whipped her head toward where Ruth stood. The woman’s cardinal-colored cloche nearly flew off. 

As the man closed his hands around her throat and squeezed, her terrified gaze fixed on Ruth. The woman’s eyes widened as her face darkened.

Ruth raised her Winchester .22 rifle. She cocked it and took aim.

“That’s not real nice, sir,” she called out. “You’d better let her go.”

The man loosened his grip and stared at Ruth. “Who the hell are you to tell me what to do?” READ MORE


The Trouble with Rebecca

by Larry Light

For an introverted tech geek, he was good at tender talk.

“Don’t worry, darling. We’ll sort it out. Listen, I can’t talk now. Love you.” Max Winters hung up his desk phone. The little red light winked out. “Sorry. My wife. Cleaning lady hasn’t shown up.”

“Not a problem,” Sean said, wearing a tiger smile. The company’s CEO was a man who had no problems, and if he did, he squelched them. Pronto. Sean squinted at Max with an inspector’s intensity.

“I’m sorry. I had to see what she wanted.” As Sean’s smile fled, Max realized he should’ve gotten off the call as soon as the man appeared. He’d kept Sean waiting for twenty seconds. When Becca phoned, as she did often when he was at work, Max always found time to talk to her, no matter how busy he was. He never let her go to voicemail—even when his boss hovered outside his cubicle.

Sean looked around Max’s workspace, as if taking inventory. There could be nothing to find fault with. Max kept a very tidy desk. It held only a few neat stacks of papers and a framed picture of Rebecca. The bank of computers blinked to the side.

“Marriage is important, Winters.” READ MORE


Booked & Printed

by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

During the holiday season, the pressure on American mothers can be immense. Amidst stressful weeks that demand maximum happiness, working mothers might struggle to meet the family’s emotional and logistical needs, to give young children the gifts of time, energy, affection, patience, and material goods; to meet, in short, a level of nearly impossible maternal virtue. This month, Booked and Printed visits with a devoted, besieged mother who commits a criminal transgression, one a futuristic criminal justice system will treat with sinister, and thoroughly modern methods. 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: The Complex World of Grand Juries

by Lee Lofland

A reasonable person might believe the court system in the United States is fairly straightforward—commit a crime, get arrested, go to court, pay a fine and/or begin a period of probation, or go directly to jail. However, it’s not that simple; each state has its own laws and court systems.

There are two types of juries in the US: petit juries, or trial juries, and grand juries. Petit juries serve in a public courtroom with a judge and attorneys present, where they hear evidence offered by both the prosecution and defense. Members of the public and media may attend trials heard by petit juries. At the conclusion of a trial, petit juries decide whether a defendant is not guilty or guilty. 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 Mason II

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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