Short Mystery Fiction – Ellery Queen Picks

baby sea turtles

photo: Chris Evans, creative commons license

Short stories are a great diversion when you don’t have the time or attention span for a novel. The pacing is different. Every word should count. A paperback or magazine of short stories travels well too. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, now in its 76th year, is one of the best.

The EQMM editors select a wide variety of stories from the broad categories of mystery, crime, and suspense and now publish six times a year. Here are a few from recent issues that I found particularly entertaining.

  • “Frank’s Beach” by Scott Loring Sanders – a bit of sea turtle ecology and a dead body. Sanders’s stories have appeared in Best American Mystery Stories and he has a new collection out last month, Shooting Creek. (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, November 2016)
  • “Flowing Waters” by Brendan DuBois – a prolific writer of short stories, this one focused on a woman with PTSD and her formerly abused rescue dog. A classic case of who rescued whom? DuBois latest novel, Storm Cell, was published late last year. (EQMM, January/February 2017)
  • “Oh, Give Me a Home” by Gerald Elias – tracking down a rogue group of survivalists in Utah’s Uintas Mountains. Elias (a former violinist) has a novel, Devil’s Trill. (EQMM March/April 2017)
  • “Ruthless” by Judith Cutler – a Black Widow meets her match. Cutler’s novel Head Start will be out later this year. (EQMM March/April 2017)
  • “The Model Citizen” by William Dylan Powell – love these humorous tales featuring former cop Billy Raskolnikov and his monkey Ringo who live on the boat David’s Fifth Margarita. (EQMM March/April 2017)

If you follow this blog at all, you may recall that my own story, “A Slaying Song Tonight” led off the EQMM holiday issue (January/February 2017), with a tale of how relationships are tested when a Christmas caroling excursion becomes the opportunity for murder.


***Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine – August 2016

chalk outline, body

(image: pixabay, creative commons license)

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine continues its 75th year celebration with another collection of classic and new stories. Collectively, they demonstrate many of the forms this genre can take. Whether you prefer cozies or police procedurals or amateur detectives or hardboiled, you will find them in EQMM’s pages. From the August issue, which celebrates past EQMM editors, here are four of my favorites:

• In “The Ten-Cent Murder,” the first EQMM editor, Frederic Dannay, teams up with his real-life friend Dashiell Hammett to solve a crime in 1950s Manhattan. Joseph Goodrich, whose play Panic won the 2008 Best Play award from the Mystery Writers of America, adopted a period tone for this amateur sleuth outing.
• I always enjoy Dave Zeltserman’s stories and their sly humor. This month Zeltserman deviates from his Julius Katz private-eye series to present a classic noir tale. In “The Caretaker of Lorne Green,” a man on the run from the mob poses as a home health aide and plans to rob his elderly, wheelchair-bound client, but which of them is more ruthless?
• Jonathan Moore’s compelling police procedural, “A Swimmer from the Dolphin Club,” begins with the discovery of a woman’s backpack, shoes, and neatly folded clothes underneath San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. Suicide? Murder? Disappearance? Will the truth come too late? Moore’s most recent book is 2016’s The Poison Artist, which Stephen King called “an electrifying read . . . I haven’t read anything so terrifying since Red Dragon.” High praise from the master.
• In Ruth Graviros’s psychological tale “Ted Bundy’s Father,” you are gradually overtaken by the same horror that grips the late middle-aged protagonist, Warner Chadason. Chadason has “enjoyed an unthreatened life,” as the author puts it early on, a life about to explode disastrously. His name reveals all. Graviros was a pseudonym used by EQMM’s second editor, Eleanor Sullivan.

EQMM regularly includes reviews of new books, as well as a monthly rundown of mystery/crime blogs and websites worth following up on, as well as additional features, especially in this 75th year. You can subscribe on the website or through Amazon. Or obtain the August issue here: