As has become traditional, EQMM’s January/February 2019 issue celebrates the winter holidays as well as Sherlock Holmes. We think you’ll find plenty of mischief here to get you through Christmas, the new year, and Holmes’s Twelfth Night birthday, starting with a new Amlingmeyer Brothers puzzler from Steve Hockensmith (“My Christmas Story”) that fits squarely into both of our themes and, immediately following, a tense Christmas Eve thriller from Iceland’s Ragnar Jónasson (“Don’t Panic”). What is Christmas like for someone unhappy at their job, or a semiloner invested in someone else’s holiday? Find out in the darkly humorous “Dead People’s Clothes” by Hollis Seamon and the moving “Wishing Tree” by Michael Bracken.
Of course, some of our offerings may make you feel more wary than bright—like O’Neil De Noux’s complicated postwar romance “The Pain” and A.J. Wright’s intense “Grace.” Not to worry: Your heart will beat fast enough to warm you through chilly reading about winter storms in the twisty “Snow Job” by Lia Matera and “The Father of the Corpse,” a Department of First Stories tale by Cecilia Fulton.
Crimes unfold from varying points of view in “Sideways Breakfast” by Brendan DuBois and “Entries and Exits” by Simon Brett . . . but where does the truth lie? We wonder about witnesses at the slippery “Shanty Falls” (by Doug Crandell) and through “Whiteout” (by G.M. Malliet) conditions at a series of ski lodges, and we get close—but not quite cozy—with narrators of different types in “Shall I Be Murder?” by Mat Coward and “Poof” by Batya Swift Yasgur.
While others revisit Holmes, someone in Passport to Crime has revised one of the most famous of all Christmas tales over and over (“Enough Is Enough” by Thomas Kastura) . . . and speaking of not being able to let things go, see Robert Lopresti’s short “Please Do Not Disturb.”
There’s gumshoeing—or perhaps snowshoeing—befitting the Baker Street Irregulars, and a bit of the fantastic, in David Dean’s “Snow Boy,” and “On the Road With Mary Jo” by John M. Floyd may have you reconsidering the latest gadget in your stocking.
Topping the tree, or Holmes’s birthday cake, are a Sherlock Holmes parody by recent Macavity nominee Terence Faherty (“The Cardboard Box”) and a pastiche by Keith Hann (“The Dragon’s Mark”). This issue is perfect giving for the Holmesian in your life!
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by Steve Hockensmith
Dear Mr. Smythe:
Season’s greetings to you, Mrs. Smythe, and all the little Smythelings! I hope my stories have helped you put a few extra presents on the tree for them. All my brother and I could afford to exchange last year were pats on the back and an extra helping of beans for our “feast,” so the money you’ve sent my way for my stories will make Christmas 1893 a merrier one indeed.
Thank you also for sending along the latest Smythe’s Frontier Detective. (And what a pleasure it is, I must say, to finally have a permanent address it could be sent to.)
by Keith Hann
There is a creature of Celtic legend whose wail, it is said, can shatter glass, turn one’s hair grey, and wake the very dead. I speak, of course, of our dear landlady, Mrs. Hudson. One lazy summer eve in Baker Street, as I lay near-dozing in my chair, the late night calm was shattered by just such a wail. I jolted awake, flinging my copy of the Evening Standard into the air and nearly tumbling out of my chair. My first sight was of my friend and companion, Sherlock Holmes, evidently roused from a similar repose.
That poor, put-upon Scotswoman had occasion to let loose many such wails over the years, for the work of Holmes is often singular in its scope, a parade of the picaresque, the grotesque, and the decidedly queer.
Department of First Stories
by Cecilia Fulton
It took me awhile to make the connection. He’s just not a guy you would recognize easily. Probably because you wouldn’t really be drawn to him in the first place. He looks like a crumpled paper bag—the rough texture of his skin blurs his features, so you can’t really register what his eyes look like or what color they are or the size of his nose or the length of his eyebrows. Also, I’d only ever seen him looking grim in washed-out dark suits, so at first, this guy in the cream-colored suit with the big smile on his face, I had no idea who he was—except that he was familiar in some way. I probably wouldn’t have noticed him at all, except it was snowing heavily outside and it seemed brazen for a man to wear ivory on a snowy day. Especially, as I noticed, with yeti-sized snow boots that were still as wet as a soaked dog.
Passport to Crime
by Thomas Kastura
The mourning bell at Mühlendorf Cemetery clanged dully beneath the overcast December sky. It was the Saturday before the second Sunday of Advent, and it rained, steadily and heavily, as if unseen powers sought to wrap the burial in a damp cloak of oblivion before it was even over. Even the crows were silent as Fred Dennert set out on his last earthly journey.
Dennert was, perhaps, the most unknown, unappreciated writer in Franconia—a part of Bavaria richly blessed with authors who were thwarted, underestimated, and, especially in their own view, misunderstood.
by Steve Steinbock
Sherlock Holmes was, according to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London (located at 221B Baker Street, of course) “by all accounts born on 6th January 1854, and for more than a century his name has been known in every country of the world.” And so, as we do each January, we celebrate his birthday with a series of reviews of Holmes pastiches and other books directly inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. We have eight works of Sherlockiana. The Great Detective himself only appears in four of the books. Conan Doyle is a character in three of the books. Happy 165th Birthday, Sherlock Holmes.
by Kristopher Zgorski
There is certainly no shortage of websites and blogs out there, so it is always fun when you discover someone who finds a new and unique way to celebrate reading. Christine Gentes does just that with her Map Your Mystery blog (mapyourmystery.com). It started out as an exploration of mystery novels set in each of the United States, but has since expanded to include settings worldwide and is perfect for both armchair travelers and those who might be planning a physical vacation to one of these locations. What better way to prepare for your trip than to read a novel set in that area? Not only will you get a feel for the environment and find out about local attractions, but you will do it while being entertained by a mysterious plot line. Christine also includes interviews along with her regular reviews.
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