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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. 

Look for our September/October 2022 issue on sale at newsstands on August 16, 2022 Or subscribe to AHMM in print or in a wide variety of digital formats.