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November/December 2018

EQMM’s November/December issue showcases three P.I. teams: 1890s San Francisco’s Carpenter and Quincannon (in “Smoke Screen” by Bill Pronzini), Julius Katz and Archie (in “Archie for Hire” by Dave Zeltserman, wherein Archie sets out his own shingle), and Jason Stafford and his unique, youthful helpmate in the financial-crimes murder mystery “The Honest End of Sybil Cooper” by Michael Sears. A police duo—Auburn and Dollinger—tackles converging cases in John H. Dirckx’s “Where the Red Lines Meet”

Young folks are inadvertently involved in crimes in O.A.Tynan’s chilling “Jenny’s Necklace,” Anna Scotti’s haunting “Krikon the Ghoul Hunter,” and Reed Johnson’s timely and touching “Open House.”

On the home front, Barb Goffman serves up an unnerving Thanksgiving feast for her con man in “Bug Appétit,” while Marilyn Todd’s reverend’s wife meets with a final ironic twist in “Long Slow Dance Through the Passage of Time.”

Past deeds and the need to reconcile one’s own actions feature in both Department of First Stories tales, “The Screening,” by Australian Jehane Sharah, and “Duty, Honor, Hammett,” by Stacy Woodson (the latter set in Arlington Cemetery). Similarly, central characters in “Race to Judgment” by Craig Faustus Buck and “Take Care, Love” by Jean-Paul Mourlevat (a rising politician and a student, respectively) find themselves reflecting on their private notions of justice.

“Lake Desolation” by Dennis McFadden, “Human Resources” by David Dean, and “A House in the Country” by Susan Dunlap all put the phrase “wrong place/wrong time” to the test. What will McFadden’s young couple, Dean’s lazy employee, and Dunlap’s housewife do when faced with crimes of circumstance?

Peter Lovesey’s “Agony Column,” proves relevant to mystery fans in an unexpected way. And one more investigator you might recognize returns: Josh Pachter brings us a special story, “50,” on the 50th anniversary of his first publication in EQMM.

The Readers Award ballot is in this issue. Please vote!

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The Honest End of Sybil Cooper

by Michael Sears

“Jason! Come here, please,” the love of my life called. Skeli’s voice, though controlled, revealed a nervousness bordering on panic.

Skeli rarely succumbed to panic, though there were, and had been, any number of instances that might have warranted such a response. There was my career investigating financial fraud, which had often led me into life-threatening situations; our daughter, two months past her first birthday and frighteningly mobile; and there was my beautiful eight-year-old son, Jay, a.k.a. the Kid, whose life was always in a state of chaos. I was betting on the last of these.



Archie for Hire

by Dave Zeltserman

“Put Katz on the phone.”

I felt my processing cycles flutter, which I’d experienced one other time and knew was a sensation akin to shuddering. It wasn’t hard to understand why I felt it again given that the voice I’d just heard belonged to Desmond Grushnier, someone Julius once called the most dangerous man alive. I told Julius that Grushnier wished to speak to him.

Julius, at that moment, was leaning back in his office chair reading an article in the current Wine Spectator about underrated Bordeaux vintages. A slight flicker showed in his eyes, otherwise nothing for the next 2.8 seconds.


Department of First Stories

Duty, Honor, Hammett

by Stacy Woodson

In Arlington Cemetery, under the steps of the Memorial Amphitheater, the clock in Tomb Guard Quarters chimed.

“Bells. Bells.” Tuck, my trainer, echoed the time warning.

But I remained at attention—chin up, chest out, shoulders back—while he inspected my uniform. My brass shone. My medals were exact. And my shoes sparkled like a Mop & Glo ad.

Tuck still made another pass, his success tied to mine. This time, he attacked my jacket with a lint roller. The tape crinkled back and forth as he wheeled it across my shoulders.


Passport to Crime

Take Care, Love

by Jean-Claude Mourlevat

Class had ended and the lecture hall was emptying slowly. Madame Seligman, professor of American Civilization at the University of St. Etienne, gestured to the thin blond student lingering in the front row.

“Mademoiselle, if you please.”

Angelique came forward. She looked like a schoolgirl with her glasses, her coat buttoned up to her neck, and her backpack dangling from the crook of her arm.

“Yes, madame?”

“Have you ever thought of applying to be a teacher in England or the United States?”

“No,” replied Angelique, taken by surprise.



The Jury Box 

by Steve Steinbock 

In this issue’s The Jury Box installment, I revisit some old friends and discover some new ones. Readers may notice that I rarely give five-star reviews. I also almost never give one- or two-star reviews, because if I’m not enjoying a book, I won’t take the time to finish and review it. This month I open with three books that were so moving, and so original in the telling, that I felt obliged to give them top score. READ MORE


Blog Bytes

by Kristopher Zgorski

Each of my Blog Bytes columns so far has included an author collective blog and this edition is no different. Murder–Books ( is unique among these blogs as it features only men on the roster—think of it as a sort of male Jungle Red Writers. Subtitled Crime Fiction From Guys Who Know, the draw here is authenticity. Bruce Robert Coffin and Brian Thiem are both retired homicide detectives; Roger Johns is a former lawyer and academic; Ben Keller is a private investigator; and Mark Thielman is a Texas criminal magistrate—so they all have insider knowledge on the topics they speak and write about.  READ MORE


Stranger Than Fiction: Preview

by Dean Jobb

The realms of crime fiction and true crime have many intersections. Fiction writers often draw on real investigative techniques, police procedures, and even notorious crime cases in fashioning their stories, and, conversely, fictional sleuths and their methods have occasionally influenced the practices of actual police forces.  READ MORE