Current Issue Highlights
In EQMM’s November/December issue, Christmas lunches at a rest-stop diner come with a side of suspicion in Charlotte Hinger’s “Lizzie Noel” and a theologian is mysteriously dead before holiday sales can earn out in Simon Brett’s “Marginalia.” A teenager’s observations at a small-town library come to a head over winter break in “Book Lovers” by Hollis Seamon, and neighbors are invested in each other’s lives in the lead-up to the holidays in “Street Versus the Stalker” by Pam Barnsley.
The bonds we make during childhood can remain strong, as we find in the tense “Juvenility” by M.J. Soni, the touching “If I Could Walk My Brother into the Dark Woods” by Andrew Riconda, and “Magic Beans” by Meenakshi Gigi Durham, where a woman raised in an ashram reminisces. In another alternative community, a young mother finds what matters to her in Vikram Kapur’s “10.”
The surprises don’t end: We have unlikely sleuths (a reluctant groomsman in “Something Blue” by G.M. Malliet, a high school athletic-equipment manager in “Two, Four, Six, Eight” by Michael Z. Lewin, and a struggling writer in “Creative Vice” by Scott William Carter) and unlikely criminals (in the relatable “What Kind of Criminal?” by Latoya Jovena and the hilarious “The Artisan-Cheese Incident” from the Department of First Stories by Michael B. Hock). We find more seasoned investigators in “Archie Smith: International Spy” by Dave Zeltserman and “The Sunday Assassin” by John Lantigua.
It wouldn’t be the holidays without a “ghost”—there’s one to consider in the Department of First Stories’ “A Ghost for Marcy’s Garden” by W.W. Mauck—and a little magic, which we find in “The Card on the Ceiling,” a Passport to Crime tale by Awasaka Tsumao.
A Black Mask reprint (“Take It and Like It” by Frederick Nebel), our usual columns, and two poems (Carl Robinette’s “Tightrope City” and F.R. Duplantier’s “A Roomful of Sleuths”) round out the issue. Plus you’ll find the 2022 Readers Award ballot. Don’t forget to vote!
by Hollis Seamon
Listen, if you think I wanted to be there in that dusty old library full of dusty old books and dusty old people and dusty old spiders, well, you’re as crazy as a bedbug. I mean, really? I’m fifteen years old and it’s the middle of the twentieth century, when tyranny and cruel and unusual punishment are supposed to be outlawed, right? 1962, to be exact. The librarian, AnnaLee, who I have to admit is young and pretty and wears perfect makeup and is not dusty at all, says being exact is what library life is all about. I don’t know about that but I do know that I was there, in the dusty old blah blah, every weekend—all weekend!—because it was, get this, court ordered. Community service, the judge said. Yep, I had to work every single weekend for three months in the Van Luykensburg village library. How unfair is that? READ MORE
by Charlotte Hinger
The glittery little floozy burst through the door of the Overhours Cafe like she was fleeing the gates of hell. Or her pimp, more likely.
Teresa Wainright had every reason to recognize her kind immediately. But she didn’t want trouble. No telling who might come looking for this one.
She gave a final polish to a stainless-steel napkin holder and scornfully studied the little whore as she swiveled onto the nearest stool. A small woman. Eyes ringed with straying mascara. She wore hot pants and scuffy mid-thigh leather boots and a stained lacy see-through blouse that needed a few extra buttons. Brittle white-blond hair piled on top of her head. Chipped dried-blood-black nails. READ MORE
PASSPORT TO CRIME
The Card on the Ceiling
by Awasaka Tsumao
Translated from the Japanese by Steve Steinbock
Bright sunlight flooded through the windows of his classroom as Hokkai Masahiko looked out at the tree-lined college landscape. The cherry blossoms hadn’t opened yet, the buds still hardened by winter. But Hokkai smiled. It felt like spring.
He liked the spring. Here in Japan, the school year began in April. That made sense since spring embodies beginnings. This year he’d been assigned to a new room in a newly built lecture hall. The windows were sparkling clear and the walls still smelled of fresh paint. Everything was fresh and new. It was wonderful. READ MORE
Take It and Like It
by Frederick Nebel
Kennedy was standing on the corner of Hallam and German Streets when he saw the girl pass rubber-kneed beneath a streetlight halfway down German. There was a moon somewhere in the April sky but its light did not reach into German Street. German Street was narrow, barricaded on either side by two- and three-storied houses of brick or wood, many of them untenanted. Kennedy lived a block up Hallam in a rooming house. He had moved into it a week before and had started out tonight, ten minutes ago, for a place to eat. Someone had said there was a good chili joint in the neighborhood and he was trying to get his bearings. READ MORE
DEPARTMENT OF FIRST STORIES
The Artisan-Cheese Incident
by Michael B. Hock
Romeoed and Julieted
James and Shelby had been married for less than twenty-three hours, and the honeymoon was not going well.
He sat in the front seat of his dad’s now-stolen pickup truck. He wasn’t really sure at what point it went from “Hey Dad, I’m going to borrow the car” to “Hey Dad, I’m leaving the state with my girlfriend and never coming back so I guess the car is stolen now,” but since he was about to rob a bank, this seemed like as good a time as any to commit to his life of crime. He steadied himself in the front seat and turned to his new wife Shelby, who was in the bed of the truck, preparing for the heist. READ MORE
NONFICTION AND REVIEWS
by Steve Steinbock
Autumn is turning into winter. It’s time to snuggle up with some good books. I’ve selected a lineup of titles that remind me what I love about mysteries. They also serve as examples of how diverse and broadly defined the mystery genre is. I’m also including a review of a monumental new reference book, the most significant and comprehensive history of the genre in eighty years. READ MORE
by Kristopher Zgorski
True Crime Diva (truecrimediva.com) is the personal blog of Debra Buck—a true crime enthusiast, natch! Readers can stop by this blog to find out information about all kinds of true crimes, both past and present. The Diva gives visitors a menu of options across the top, including “historical,” “missing,” “unsolved,” and then a catch-all “other” category that contains examples of bizarre cases, celebrity crimes, suspicious deaths, and more. There is also a link for the “Diva’s Nook,” where Debra will allow herself to pontificate on topics that stray a bit from the crime element, but which are still relevant and interesting to society today. This section looks like it may eventually also include reviews/analysis of TV shows as well. 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