EQMM’s July/August issue takes the subgenre of workplace mysteries to whole new realms, with tales surrounding wind-energy consultants (“New Energy” by Vicki Weisfeld), a nineteenth-century thief-taker (“The Cripplegate Apprehension” by Richard Helms), an oyster farmer in a gentrifying neighborhood (“Oystermen” by Michael Bracken), and embalmers—of sorts (“Day of the Jackal” by Marilyn Todd). In the Passport to Crime Department, we even meet a ventriloquist and other members of a circus troupe (see Takemaru Abiko’s impossible-crime tale “A Smart Dummy in the Tent”). A couple of stories feature workers from behind the desk in hotels or motels, the intriguing but melancholy “Do Not Disturb” by Steve Hockensmith, and the shadowy and riveting “The Long-Term Tenant” by Tara Laskowski (a Black Mask story). The pragmatic narrator in Aoife Clifford’s “Crossing Bridges,” too, is brought into a tough situation at her retail gig, but she secretly suspects someone else.
Of course, many characters are more interested in their extracurricular activities, like the writers in “Murderers’ Row” by Chris Holm, the barista in “Rionach, My Queen” by James Hadley Griffin (a First story), the Latvian jewelry expert in V. S. Kemanis’s “Dzintra’s Tale,” and the do-it-yourselfer in “Left for Dead” by S. J. Rozan.
Family secrets and other deceptions can complicate a job, as they do in Brendan DuBois’s “Her Sister’s Secrets,” in Tony Fisher’s twisty “Tingo” (from the Department of First Stories), in R.T. Raichev’s new Antonia Darcy mystery involving a cosmetic surgeon, “The Mysterious Affair at Osiris House,” and in “There Are Just Some Things a Rat Won’t Do,” a Hennessey and Yellich procedural by Peter Turnbull.
Some characters probably won’t be making it in to work at all, as in the harrowing “Heat” by Trey Dowell and the stunner “Rude Awakening” by Twist Phelan. Don’t miss this issue, perfect for lunch-break reading!
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by Vicki Weisfeld
Wednesday night at the Rattler’s Den I perched on a barstool watching the Astros lose to the White Sox on three TVs and waiting for my “date.” So far that evening my male companionship was limited to the good ol’ boys at the scarred tables who looked like they’d occupied those same chairs since the Alamo. Most likely they’d made some snap judgments about me too, all of them wrong. As a young Asian-American, not quite five feet tall, I find these people have their opinions about me.
The bartender sidled up and took my order for another Pacífico. “Visiting?” he asked. “Call me Pete.”
Though I’d lived in Sweetwater, Texas, almost six months, I’d never been in this bar before. “I work in town.” I stuck out my hand. “Brianna Yamato. Reporter for the Sweetwater Register.” READ MORE
by Brendan DuBois
I’m sitting in the passenger’s seat of my sister’s black Volvo XC40 SUV, and Corinne is glaring at me as I smoke my Marlboro Lights cigaret and flick the ash out of the top of the partially rolled down window. It’s a spring Saturday at Walker Lake in the middle of New Hampshire, and Corinne and I are set for a day of tossing out trash and memories.
The road is dirt and narrow, and branches whip at the side as Corinne drives us along, and she gives me another glare and says, “You know you shouldn’t smoke, Taylor.”
“Yep,” I say, flicking out a bit more ash.
“You know women are always at a greater risk of getting cancer from smoking.”
“That’s what I’ve read.”
“So why do you keep on doing it?”
Like I often do, I lose my temper and say, “Maybe I like pissing people off,” and that shuts up Corinne for another half-mile, and my anger at my older sister slides into the old familiar guilt. I shouldn’t snap back at her, especially since, in her own clumsy way, she’s trying to help me, but three decades plus of habit is hard to break.READ MORE
Passport to Crime
by Takemaru Abiko
Yesterday’s rain had cleared as if it had all been a dream, and today brought a bright April Sunday, one which almost felt like an early summer’s day. It was the opening day of the carnival where Mr. Tomonaga would perform, and there were a fair number of visitors. The carnival would open at ten, but it seemed as if people had already been waiting since eight o’clock.
Dozens of colourful tents were spread across the large vacant lot, which once housed storage units and warehouses. The largest tent was, of course, the special feature of the carnival (not that it was all that famous): the circus tent.
There was no entrance fee, and children were already crowding in front of the various stalls. Weaving my way between all the screaming kids, whose voices drowned out even the merry march music playing in the background, I tried to find my way to Mr. Tomonaga’s tent with the help of the map I’d been given. READ MORE
Department of First Stories
by Tony Fisher
I sat on a hard bench in a police cell with my head in my hands, the smell of vomit and bleach up my nose and regret thundering around my brain.
I had been friends with Kathleen Morgan for most of my life. Pictures in our photo albums showing gap-toothed primary-school kids together, fridge magnets from shared holidays, and framed certificates on our walls, graduating with honours side by side, were just snapshots of a life shared.
I lifted my head and studied the room.
Whitewashed walls, a sturdy door with a small metal shutter across the top, and behind me a tiny window high up in the wall where three bars blocked out any chance of escape but let in tiny shafts of sunlight onto the rough stone floor. The same grey colour as Kathleen’s refrigerator in the kitchen. The place where it began three short months ago. READ MORE
by Tara Laskowski
The police came on a Tuesday afternoon, in the dead middle of the New Mexico summer. Rolly was at The Jubilee, so it was just Mae in the front office of the Kewa Come and Stay Inn, swatting flies with an AAA brochure and cracking pistachios in front of the rotating floor fan.
When she heard Lee’s name, the hair on the back of Mae’s neck fanned, and she felt a trickle like a daddy-longlegs falling down her spine.
“Yes,” she said. “Yes. Room Three-twelve, in the back.”
They wanted to know if he was there—could they see the room, please, was that possible? There were two of them, one a skinny white boy with fuzz for a moustache and fidgety, so fidgety he made her nervous, and the other a rounded Mexican, hefty like a sack of ground maize, his stubble gray and white on his shelf of a chin. READ MORE
by Jon L. Breen
A trio of new short-story collections represent longtime EQMM favorites, sadly departed though their works live on.
Edward D. Hoch: Challenge the Impossible: The Final Problems of Dr. Sam Hawthorne, Crippen & Landru, $19. Small-town physician Dr. Sam Hawthorne occupies two worlds at once: a Golden-Age fantasy land where locked rooms and impossible crimes are a regular occurrence and the down-to-earth habitat of real people living through the headlines and fears, changes and challenges of twentieth-century America. READ MORE
by Kristopher Zgorski
By this point, you have no doubt seen your favorite authors tweet or post about having their novel as a BookBub (www.bookbub.com/welcome) deal of the day, but maybe you don’t know what that is. BookBub is a website that allows you to sign up for a daily newsletter that will inform you of drastically marked-down e-book deals based on the categories you tell them you are interested in. Categories can be as broad as “crime” or as specific as “cozy mystery,” so you are sure to always get notifications of the appropriate book offerings. You would be surprised at how many of the books on offer are titles you probably already have on your to-be-read list—so why not purchase them when they are under two dollars? READ MORE
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