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EQMM’s March/April 2019 issue opens with “The Women Friends,” a powerful tale of friendship disrupted by terrorism, by Joyce Carol Oates. “Missing” women are at the heart of other stories, including a case for a rookie detective by R.J. Koreto (“The Girl on the Roof”) and another for a female police lieutenant by Carolyn Hart (“All Kinds of Fear”).

New and experienced officers clash in Bill Pronzini’s “Bug”—but this time it’s in a fire department investigating arson. Hell itself, though not its flames, is evoked in “The Helm of Hades,” a truly diabolical locked-room mystery by Paul Halter from our Passport to Crime department.

Unexpected allies—criminal and not—feature in the Department of First Stories’ striking “Call Me Chuckles” by Mark Cowgill and the Black Mask Department’s adventurous “The Road from Manzanar” by Harley Mazuk, while clues come from surprising places in Liza Cody’s compelling, character-driven “Life and Death in T-Shirts.”

Seemingly quiet lives take on sinister tones in “Papa’s Snowshoes” by Tom Tolnay, “Tom of Tinsley” by Peter Turnbull, and “Closing Doors” by Peter Sellers. Speaking of tones, a hard-rock life leads to danger for the band in Doug Allyn’s “The Girls in the Fourth Row,” and darkness also seeps onto the theater stage (in Lucy Ribchester’s “Mortal Thoughts”), the page (in John Lantigua’s new Willie Cuesta story about a famous writer, “Revenge of the Puma”), and the screen (in both Paul D. Marks’s Howard Hamm sequel “Fade Out on Bunker Hill” and the late Robert S. Levinson’s “All About Evie”).

On a different kind of screen, a character attempts to keep up the façade that funds her lifestyle in “A Perfect Life” by Sophia Huneycutt (Department of First Stories). Similar pressure to uphold a certain veneer creates trouble for the characters in “Aunt Jenna Was a Spy” by Susan Dunlap and in the issue’s concluding nail-biter, “Spray” by Michael Wiley. Don’t miss a suspenseful moment

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