Mystery Short Stories: Ellery Queen & Betty Fedora

reading, apple

photo: Greg Myers, creative commons license

The September/October 2016 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine is the one picked to be the 75th anniversary issue in the year-long celebration of the publication’s staying power and popularity. The precise date of the first issue in 1941 is unknown, but it was fall, in a rather bleak time in history, with World War II raging and uncertainty everywhere. Three-quarters of a century later, EQMM still challenges and entertains!

Betty Fedora, by contrast, is a new mystery/crime publication, dubbed “kickass women in crime fiction.” Issue 3 arrived recently and contains a story of mine, “Breadcrumbs,” with the kickass woman in question a Michigan state trooper hoping to protect a young woman hiding from her abusive husband. She fears he’s tracked her down.

Here are some of my favorite stories from these two magazines—writers I hope to read more from:

  • reading, beach

    photo: El Coleccionista de Instantes Fotografía & Video, creative commons license

    Linda Barnes’s EQMM story, “The Way They Do It in Boston” has great energy and atmosphere. She’s the author of 17 novels and has collected numerous award nominations.

  • “The Specialty of the House” by Stanley Ellin—his first published story—is reprinted from the 1948 issue of EQMM. Ellin was a novelist whose books were adapted for the screen, big and small. He was foremost a master of the short story, and this is “one of the most famous crime stories ever published.”
  • In this issue, perennial EQMM reader favorite (mine, too!) Dave Zeltserman’s a.i. assistant Archie helps not his detective Julius Katz this time, but Katz’s sister Julia elude a determined assassin.
  • Preston Lang’s Betty Fedora story, “The Sign,” is a tale of double-double-crosses, launched by a decades-old sign in a seedy Manhattan bar that reads “Hardtack Coghlan doesn’t pay for a drink.” Has the real Hardtack finally walked in?
  • Office speculation runs high about the true identity of dishy Rudy in the Louisa Barnes story, “Her Colours.” Rudy, she says, had “a gift for insubstantiality.” While the women fixated on him, was there really a spy in their midst?
  • Colleen Quinn’s story poses Betty Fedora readers an intriguing problem. In “The Game of Six Brothers,” when the groomsmen at a wedding discover one of the bridesmaids is a private investigator, they challenge her to figure out which of them is a murderer. And she can ask each of them only one very important question.

Read and enjoy!

***Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine – May & June 2016


photo: Brady Wahl, creative commons license

The first mystery when dealing with “The World’s Leading Mystery Magazine” is, what’s the name of this publication stuffed with short stories, anyway? The cover says Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, but the website calls it Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Best just to do what the cognoscenti do and call it EQMM and be done. Always a treasure-trove for mystery lovers, it’s in its 75th year, and all year long is publishing celebratory content.

The International Issue

The May issue is devoted to stories from international authors. Some of those I enjoyed most were:

  • “The Scarecrow’s Revenge” by Paul Halter (France) – this story is copyright 2016, but reads as if it is a Golden Age classic—in style, plot, and theme. Deadly fun.
  • “The Miracle on Christmas Eve” by Szu-Yen Lin (Taiwan) – a sweet story about a widowed father’s determination to preserve the myth of Santa Claus for his young son.
  • “An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems” by Helene Tursten (Sweden) – you shouldn’t underestimate the determination of an old lady to cling to her apartment, in Scandinavia, as elsewhere!

Other stories are from Argentina (Jorge Luis Borges), Angola, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and Belgium and prove, in case proof were needed, that mystery is a universal language.

Mystery Writers of America Issue

In the June issue, the editors pay their respects to the Mystery Writers of America and feature new stories from authors who have won at least one of MWA’s several awards. Again, many riches to choose among, with special appreciation from me of:

  • “Puncher’s Chance” by Doug Allyn, who is not only an MWA winner but a frequent and highly popular author in EQMM. This was one of the best of his I’ve read. He captured the boxing world and the psychology of fighters superbly.
  • “The Unit” by T.J. MacGregor, whose 2002 novel Out of Sight won an Edgar Allen Poe award. I love how her website confesses upfront that her publisher advised her to use initials, not her name (Trish) because, and she quotes, “mysteries by men or androgynous people [think JK Rowling] were outselling mysteries by women”!
  • “The Night Watchman’s Wife” by William Dylan Powell. I’ve read a previous story about boat-dwelling, Lone Star-swilling, unlicensed Texas private investigator Billie and his pet monkey Ringo. Ringo is a charmer. Billie, too. Funny & fun.

Subscribe to EQMM with the link below or find single-issues in the magazine section of your local B&N.