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Criminal Personas

Detection necessarily implies deception. Criminals may deceive both to commit their crimes and to cover them up afterwards. And occasionally investigators themselves will resort to duplicitous behavior in order to bring perpetrators to justice. This issue’s stories offer some master classes in disguise, deception, and misdirection.

In “Masquerade” by Pat Black, a Halloween party is the perfect setting for a killer to hide in plain sight. In “The Final Was Murder” by John H. Dirckx, an educational skit at a police training academy goes awry when a student in the audience is shot. And Rick Peters looks into why a fellow photographer was murdered and a studio ransacked in Floyd Sullivan’s “Cover Shot.”

A good story is a lifesaver when a thief jumps into a woman’s car and demands that she drive in Stan Dryer’s “Mary-Elizabeth, Killing Machine.” Recovering from an attack that left her with a head injury, a woman remembers bit-by-bit the story her husband told her about being mugged that morning in Jane Pendjiky’s “The Fall.” A couple takes a hike in the wilderness (supposedly) to rekindle their relationship in Dave Zeltserman’s “The Water Bottle.” An alibi is replayed over and over in a man’s mind in Wayne J. Gardiner’s “You Can Sleep When You’re an Old Man.”

After a Mob boss is killed, the heir to the family enterprise must contend with his clever, bitter sisters in Stephen W. Herring’s “The Family Man.” A hitman hides his true profession from his teen assistant in “Recidivism,” the latest in this series by R.T. Lawton dealing with family surrogates. A retired cop goes to great lengths to protect the young family next door from a local bully in “Of Stroganoff and Jerry Cans” by Marcelle Dubé. As a young man, John Watson, the future chronicler of Sherlock Holmes’s adventures, travels to wartime Paris to free a friend who’s been imprisoned for murder in “The Besieged City” by James Tipton. And a creepy patron catches the attention of a theater attendant after a body is found when the lights come up in “Midnight Movie” by James Van Pelt.

Fifteen tricky tales of deceptive people, but we won’t lie—our goal is to keep you entertained.

Look for our September/October 2024 issue on sale at newsstands on August 13, 2024,. Or subscribe to AHMM in print or in a wide variety of digital formats.

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