As fans of crime fiction, we love to wonder: What rules dictate human behavior, making some people stay in line and leading others to commit crimes? Several authors explore that mystery in EQMM’s July/August issue. Characters follow (or don’t) the bylaws of a retirement community in Timothy O’Leary’s “Made Men”; the code of organized crime, with its own concept of “staying in line,” is probed in David Dean’s “The Mercy of Thaddeus Burke”; the sway of superstition is examined in a new Billy Raskolnikov case by William Dylan Powell, “Curse of the White Armadillo”; and religious doctrine helps to create a dangerous character in the tense “Mahadevi” by Jane Haddam.
The institution of marriage forms a backdrop to eerie and deadly happenings in “The Pale Eyes of Winter” by Jane Jakeman, “Proof” by François Bloemhof (Passport to Crime), and “Last Call” by Gemma Clarke (Department of First Stories). And in three turning-point tales, it’s the fundamental beliefs of favorite series characters that are challenged: “Officer Down” by John H. Dirckx, featuring Detectives Auburn and Dollinger, “Classic Betrayal” by Amy Myers, featuring classic-car expert Jack Colby, and “The Lightness of Man” by Thomas K. Carpenter, featuring Ancient Roman Magistrate Ovid.
The halls of academia challenge accepted norms in less than scholarly ways in the “The Professor” by Janice Law, “English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor, and the Black Mask Department’s “Hidden in Shadow” by Alaric Hunt. But it’s the laws that govern the fringes of society that come into play in the on-the-road story “Edgewise” by Louisa Luna and the pensive “Hotel Story” by Sigrid Nunez.
Highlights of this summer issue also include a new Nero Wolfe pastiche (“Post No Bulls” by Marvin Kaye), the latest Yorkshire police procedural by Edgar Award winner Peter Turnbull (“The Lost Contents”), and a wickedly twisty tale by 2018 Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster, Peter Lovesey (“Angela’s Alterations”).