The September/October 2019 issue of EQMM—as befits a mystery magazine!—explores the concept of truth. “Lies and Other Truths” by the late Robert S. Levinson focuses on a ghostwriter, while Black Mask’s “Second Cousins” by Michael Cebula, circles around the nature of proving guilt or innocence—something that turns out to be a matter of perception in “The Squatter” by David Dean and of interpretation in “How Will I Ever Use This?” by the Department of First Stories’s Tim Burke.
Truth from the past is uncovered in “Red Mist” by Peter Turnbull (a Hennessey and Yellich story), “The Visit” by Kevin Egan (with echoes of World War II), Josh Pachter’s Icelandic tale “The Secret Lagoon,” and William Burton McCormick’s “The Dunes of Saulkrasti” (with series sleuth Santa Ezerina).
Sometimes the truth of our past emerges in our current life, as find the narrators of the poetic “Figs” by James Sallis and the haunting “Never Have I Ever” by Anna Scotti.
It’s hard to keep unsavory truths hidden in a neighborhood, and dark ones emerge in “Do It Yourself” by Bill Pronzini, “You Can Scream in the Everglades” by William Hallstead, and “Frontier Days” by Bill Pippin.
Speaking of neighborhoods, we visit some tony ones in “Retirement Plan” by EQMM Readers Award winner Stacy Woodson and “Julius Katz and the Belvedere Club” by Dave Zeltserman, and some unusual ones, such as a bullfighting ring (“Torero” by John F. Dobbyn) and a stone-age community (“School of Hard Rocks” by Marilyn Todd). Plus, we’re back in New Orleans with P.I. Lucien Caye (“Sac-a-lait Man” by O’Neil De Noux), and we challenge you to solve an impossible crime by Dutch writer Anne van Doorn (“The Poet Who Locked Himself In”).
In “Bare Ruined Choirs” by the Department of First Stories’s Webter Ford and “Dog Tired” by Cath Staincliffe, small irritations blossom into full-blown motives for murder.
Don’t miss these stunning tales, or “On the Road With Manfred B. Lee,” a special feature by writer and scholar Joseph Goodrich.
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by John F. Dobbyn
There’s one moment that causes my breath to freeze every single time. If I might explain. The corrida, the bullfight, in my native Spain, has been my life since I was able to sit in my grandfather’s arms in the row behind the toreros every Sunday afternoon and hear his whispered words—words that would never be heard, much less understood, by the American tourists who call it a “sport” and cheer for the bull.
My grandfather began before his teens as cape and sword handler for the incomparable Belmondo. When he was tall enough, he was taught to place the banderillas, short barbed sticks, into the high back muscle of the bull by running in front and reaching over the charging horns. When he was old enough, he served the best matadors in Spain as picador, weakening the head-tossing muscle between the shoulders with a lance while seated on a horse, padded to blunt the charge of the bull. READ MORE
by Anna Scotti
I became aware of him slowly, as if my conscious mind were somehow easing me into the knowledge that someone was sunk into the thick, deep cushions of my burgundy sofa, almost, but not quite, invisible in the shadows beneath the undressed window.
You’re not supposed to drink alone, everyone knows that, but my nightly Chardonnay over ice was a solitary treat I was not going to give up willingly. I nearly always poured a glass as the sun went down, and sometimes another before dinner, but never more than two. Now I set my glass down and leaned back in the big leather chair where I spent most of my free time. READ MORE
Passport to Crime
by Anne van Doorn
Robbie Corbijn was looking haggard. There were bags beneath his eyes, and his sunken cheeks were deathly pale. I’d been working for his Leiden firm—Research & Discover, Cold Cases Our Specialty—for almost three months. During that time, Robbie had shared his files on a dozen unsolved cases with me, and we’d cleared up exactly none of them. This was why he was suffering.
That late-February morning, I stepped into the office we shared and found him at his desk, immersed in his work. I picked up a sheet of paper that had drifted to the carpet. It was an e-mail from a man who wanted to consult Research & Discover about his father’s death. According to the police, he wrote, the old man had committed suicide, but our potential client refused to believe it. His father would never have killed himself. Would it be possible for him to talk with us? READ MORE
Department of First Stories
by Webster Ford
The false note screeched across the rehearsal room, ricocheted off the acoustic ceiling tile, and then dropped with a bang to the floor. Most of the singers cringed. Libera me, thought Hank Peterson as he waved his arms furiously to keep the choir under control. The director felt flop sweat trickle past the temples on his black glasses and into his beard. “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome bass?”
The Green Valley First Congregational Church choir had been preparing Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, the centerpiece of the choral year, since the prior fall. While Hank had worried that the piece was too much for them, his fears had lain dormant over the winter. Now, as February turned to March, his nerve endings emerged with the roots of spring and with each successive rehearsal he sensed his hopes and dreams melting away. His problem was the frog in the choir’s collective throat: Mark Harris, the aging baritone. READ MORE
by Steve Steinbock
The novels in this installment of The Jury Box all feature strong and colorful female heroines. I didn’t plan it that way, and it surprised me when I discovered this fact. I lead off with two books featuring particularly complex female leads, both living in British-held Asian countries in the early twentieth century. In both of these novels, the cultural landscape is as diverse and complex as the heroines. READ MORE
by Kristopher Zgorski
I have decided to go international with the author collective blog for this issue. Crime Cymru (crime.cymru) is the Welsh Crime Writing Collective, comprised of thirty authors who either live in Wales, identify as Welsh, set their novels in Wales, or represent some combination of those three factors. Even with so much love of foreign-set crime fiction, Wales is one of those locations that is often overlooked. This website is a major step in rectifying that oversight. 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