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Current Issue Highlights

September/October 2023

The September/October EQMM takes readers on thrilling action-packed adventures. In “It’s Not Even Past” by Anna Scotti, WITSEC participant Cam Baker (whose identity is at risk) is on the road, and in “Green and California Bound” by Curtis Ippolito, one of this issue’s several car chases finds a couple attempting to start over in a pandemic-impacted world. William Burton McCormick’s “Balloon” finds Santa Ezeriņa in a life-and-death situation miles above the ground, while in “Five Hat Minimum” by David Knadler (Black Mask), a Marine veteran is at dangerous odds with a local gang. “Death and Omens in the Great Library” by Thomas K. Carpenter sees Alexandrian magistrate Ovid involved in more daredevil antics than he’d like, including facing down a tiger.

The thrills are vertiginous in “The Final Final” by Jerry Kennealy, in which P.I. Johnny O’Rorke tracks a woman to the Golden Gate bridge; “High Diver” by Joseph Koenig; and “Free Fall” by Kathrin Heinrichs (Passport to Crime).

Cons lead to desperate action in “A Heist in Three Acts” by Amita Murray, as three young women conspire to take down an unethical billionaire, as well as in Tyler Fiecke’s “The Roadside,” Bill Pronzini’s “The Plunderer,” and Liza Cody’s “Never Enough.” The unlikeliest persons set traps in “The Spinster’s Yarn” by Cath Staincliffe and “Soon It’ll Be Over” by Twist Phelan.

With any action taken, we think about those not taken, and this tension is explored in “Teddy’s Favorite Thing” by Paul Ryan O’Conner (Department of First Stories) and “The Siren: 1999” by Joyce Carol Oates.

We’ve got whodunits too: Don’t miss Rob Osler’s clever “Miss Direction” or the efforts of Gabriela Stiteler’s protagonist in “Two Hours West of Nothing” (Department of First Stories) to discover whether an old flame committed matricide.

Add in a thriller of a true crime column, “The Human Bomb” by Dean Jobb, and you’re guaranteed an exhilarating ride!

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The Siren: 1999
by Joyce Carol Oates

Shouts, laughter. A crashing sound of trash cans overturned in the street.

Some sort of dispute that spills into the vestibule of the rooming house at 229 East Union Street, Oriskany, New York. In his room on the second floor overlooking the street he is determined to ignore.

Twenty years old, just slightly older than most other first-year students at the State University at Oriskany, New York. He’s saving money by living not on campus (as he would have liked, would so have liked to seem like any other undergraduate with a stable family, any family at all) but at the seedy end of East Union in a neighborhood of old once-dignified single-family brick houses partitioned into rooms for low-income residents most of whom are foreign graduate students. READ MORE

Death and Omens in the Great Library
by Thomas K. Carpenter

The last time an eclipse haunted the skies above Magistrate Ovid, thirty-eight nobles had been slaughtered in the streets of Rome to appease the gods, so it was with some hesitation that Ovid found himself at the Great Library during the latest celestial event. As a young man at his father’s side, he’d been required to watch the soldiers strike the nobles in turn: The wet thunk of the hammer echoing through the streets, occasionally interspersed with the sobbing of family. The event was a firm reminder that even the lives of nobles were subject to the whims of gods and emperors. READ MORE


Free Fall
by Kathrin Heinrichs 

Translated from the German by Mary Tannert
Luisa had chestnut-brown hair and emerald-green eyes, just like her mother. Martina died six years ago. Breast cancer, diagnosed too late. Afterward, Luisa and I were alone—although Luisa always said we weren’t alone, we were a team.

Luisa finished school among the best in her class. She could have gotten into nearly any university program, but she chose earth sciences. It wasn’t financially promising, but she had her dreams and ideas. She was just sixteen when she conducted her first tours through the Dechen Cave, a show cave near here.  READ MORE


Five-Hat Minimum
by David Knadler

The first stripper had come on early, wearing little more than a cowboy hat and bedazzled vinyl chaps. Her act was mostly just prancing around cracking a bullwhip to the theme from Rawhide. A halfhearted chorus of whoops and catcalls erupted from the few bikers seated around the stage.

Terry Knife had seen a similar, better version in Saigon decades before. Still, he stared hard at the dancer. Clearly a newcomer to the field. With the hat and the makeup and the bright blue wig, it was hard to tell if this was the girl he’d come to find. Her height was about right. But he finally decided not and returned to his half-finished beverage. READ MORE


Two Hours West of Nothing
by Gabriela Stiteler

It was two-thirty on a Tuesday, and I was slow-sipping a gimlet while folding laundry and watching Antiques Roadshow when the phone rang. There were only a handful of people who called now that Paul was dead and I was taking an extended break from work: my sister in L.A., my brother in Minnesota, and the odd friend checking in.

Lauren was in the third camp.

“Did you hear what happened to Joe?” she asked by way of greeting. READ MORE


Jury Box
by Steve Steinbock

When putting together my reviews for The Jury Box, I try to find a common theme linking several of the titles. Sometimes it’s a stretch. But this month, the theme practically landed on my lap when I noticed that a majority of the books I’d received for consideration were set throughout Asia. I lead off this column with two recent translations, one from Korean and the other from Japanese. In addition, we have two fascinating books set in wartime, one in Singapore during WWII and the other in Thailand during the Vietnam War. Toward the end of this column, I’ll mention a few other noteworthy titles with Asian settings. READ MORE

Blog Bytes
by Kristopher Zgorski

The First Two Pages ( is a unique blog that was started by award-winning short-story writer B.K. Stevens. Following her untimely passing in 2017, Art Taylor—another award-winning short-story author—took over running the series and moved The First Two Pages to his own blog. At its core The First Two Pages features craft essays in which an author does a deep-dive analysis into the opening section of one of their stories. These are truly invaluable examinations of the art of the short story. 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

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