*** Three Ellery Queens


“Spotted Ghost” by Lou Hedge

Finished three issues of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine recently—August 2014, September/October 2014, and, embarrassingly, August 2012. Some items in my reading pile are truly “aging in place”! For variety of locale and time, the monthly collections in this deliciously pulpy magazine can’t be beat. These three issues contain stories from Colonial America, to 1890s San Francisco, to modern Taiwan, to Belize City, where tourists hunt the elusive jaguar.

One of the scariest involved the escalating war of nerves between an adolescent boy and his new neighbor, written by popular short story writer David Dean, author of the novel The Thirteenth Child. A funny tale about a couple who owns a dry cleaners’ shop also appeared in the 8/14 issue, by British author Belinda Bauer, known for the “blackly funny” style of some of her books.

The most recent issue departs from longstanding EQMM tradition by including some stories with paranormal elements. Despite its title, “Ghost Town,” by Terence Faherty, does not. It refers to the near-abandoned Ocean City, New Jersey, in February, plagued by a series of mysterious break-ins. One of the shorter stories—“The Hard Type” by Carl Robinette—packed the most emotional punch. In it a young boy questions his actions when he sees a couple terrorized by a motorcycle gang.

I also enjoyed “Jaguar,” about a young girl brought to New York as part of a human trafficking ring. Short stories by its author, Joseph Wallace, have appeared in several anthologies, including the Best American Mystery Stories. His most recent novel, Invasive Species, is a science fiction thriller.