Current Issue

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July/August 2022

What can we really know about reality when we’re separated from it by electronic and other barriers? That’s the question for characters in EQMM’s July/August 2022 issue. In “The Secret Sharer” by W. Edward Blain, a professor experiences the world through a virtual classroom, and in “Storm Warning” by Dana Haynes, a couple plays out an anxiety-ridden conflict in a storm cellar, hidden from the outside. In “The Shape of Australia” by Christine Poulson, a neighbor disappears—but to what realm? Is reality simply a set of statistics, as for the expat in “Quiet Pol” by Raoul Biltgen, a translation of this year’s Glauser Prize winner? And how disorienting can surroundings be during a time of war and violent dictatorship? The young movie-lovers in William Burton McCormick’s “Myrna Loy Versus the Third Reich” find out.

Rituals play a big part in building personal cosmology in Jill Vassilakos’s “The Message of Amun-Re” (set in Ancient Egypt, from the Department of First Stories), and David Dean’s haunting “The Wedding Funeral.” Families create their own universes, sometimes deceitfully, in two puzzlers by Marilyn Todd and R.T. Raichev, “Desperate House Wines” and “Sweet Death.”  Deceiving relatives also feature in the P.I. tale “Runaway” by Bill Pronzini and the twisty “Powerball” by Jack Bunker.

And how do nonhuman creatures impact human reality? Find out in “Sit. Stay. Die.” by Michael Bracken and Sandra Murphy, “Zoodunit” by Richard Helms, and “Serving Process” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Sometimes it’s not discovering what’s real but trying to shield others from harsh realities that a mystery turns on, as in “Servant of the Gentle” by Sandeep Sandhu (Department of First Stories), “The Monitor” by Cheryl Rogers, and “Snitches Get Stitches” by Derek Haas (Black Mask Department).

If you want to be sure you’re dealing with hard facts rather than elusive realities, turn to our Stranger Than Fiction column by Dean Jobb, the special retrospective in this issue’s The Jury Box by Steve Steinbock, and Kristopher Zgorski’s Blog Bytes.

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Fiction

Myrna Loy Versus the Third Reich 

by William Burton McCormick

1938, Berlin
Irma Sauer could not sleep. Speaker-amplified Russian voices penetrated her apartment’s walls, the Slavic words slipping under the door and through the vents to disturb her modest dreams. Four o’clock in the morning and Irma had been tossing and turning all night, listening to those gathered in the next room watch an advance copy of Sergei Eisenstein’s historical epic Alexander Nevsky on the Cinema Club’s projector. Irma had given up and gone to bed after the second showing. Asked her husband Otto, the organizer and projectionist, to turn down the volume for safety’s sake. Yes, Eisenstein was a genius. The world acknowledged that brilliance after Battleship Potemkin. But Eisenstein was also a communist. And it was risky to watch the films of communists too loudly in Berlin. READ MORE

 
 

Desperate House Wines 

 

by Marilyn Todd

Benjamin Hardcastle didn’t know much about women. If he had, he wouldn’t have invited his wife, his girlfriend, and his estranged daughter to spend the weekend in an obscure vineyard in the southwest of France. Leastways, not all at the same time.     

He might also have warned them that this wasn’t any old obscure vineyard in the southwest of France. It was his. He’d bought it with the proceeds of his lottery win and wanted them to share his excitement. READ MORE

Passport to Crime

Quiet Pol

by Raoul Biltgen

For three whole years he had done nothing but count. First at the Dellheicht school: a big courtyard, big trees, lots of children, lots of crows, lots of complaints, except in summer. Then the park at the Galgenberg: lots of trees, children mostly on the weekends, family groups, especially in summer, and the number of crows fluctuating strongly, but people paid them no attention; they kept walking, they were only visiting. Now this small park in the center of the city: thick with trees, quite a few children, relatively speaking, always the same children, suitable to the number of crows. READ MORE

Black Mask

Snitches Get Stitches

by Derek Haas

Baskers said he could protect me, but I told him he had two choices, lock me up or leave me be.

His partner, Gogan, smirked. “We already got a guy rolling like cinnamon. We don’t need you.”

“The second one, then.”

There are some general rules on this side of Chester Avenue. Make a mark think it’s his idea. Snitches get stitches. The muscle is for show; the hustle is for dough. And of course, don’t piss off a cop who is about to let you walk.   READ MORE

Department of First Stories

Servant of the Gentle

by Sandeep Sandhu

The candescent street lamp spat out orange light. It slithered through the boarded-up window, illuminating the dust and smoke that was dancing around the room. Latif sat on a makeshift bed: a mattress, resting on a thin steel sheet in a darkened corner of the room. His flickering presence was only noticeable when he took another hit of his joint and a small ring of fire briefly burst into life. The harsh cloud rushed down then up his throat, and he watched the grey haze swirl into the light and disappear. He allowed static to engulf him, and soon he’d drifted off into an uneasy slumber. READ MORE

Nonfiction and Reviews

The Jury Box 

by Steve Steinbock

EQMM’s most prolific pastiche writers. He’s the author of several novels and his reviews have appeared in magazines as diverse as Mystery Scene and The Weekly Standard. To date, Breen is EQMM’s longest running reviewer. Aside from a hiatus between 1984 and 1988, he wrote The Jury Box from 1977 to 2011, when I took over, and continues to provide one column per year. His reviews are noted for their clarity and conciseness as well as fairness. READ MORE

 
 

Blog Bytes

by Kristopher Zgorski

Some websites are so ubiquitous that they seem pointless to mention, however the truth is that not all readers are constantly surfing the Internet looking for book- and publishing-related sites. So let me point you toward Book Riot (https://bookriot.com/), a massive online presence that all readers should be familiar with. 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