I'm working my way through the latest issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and enjoying excellent stories. Here's a quick rundown of my recent reads.
In Best Performance by Tom Savage, an aging actor fears his young wife and an overly-friendly doctor are planning his murder. Help comes from an unexpected ally, but first, he must give the performance of his life.
Lord, Spare the Bottom Feeders by Robert Mangeot features Vernon, a Tennessee lawyer of low repute. When he's banished from the local watering hole favored by legal professionals, Vernon encounters a dicey proposition from a "beer belly on legs" in a classless bar. Vernon takes a case that tests even his low standards.
The cover story is Night Train for Berlin by William Burton McCormick. Moller is a German ex-pat who has been publishing anti-Hitler articles from the presumed safety of Soviet Russia. The story opens with Moller on his way to a prisoner exchange - he's to be traded for a captive of the Nazis. It's a tricky political situation played out on a moving train. Moller, a committed communist, finds his life tied to that of an exiled Russian aristocrat.
In The Botanist by Joan Druett, Wiki Coffin is asked to prevent the murder of a prosperous businessman turned amateur botanist. Wiki is the half-Maori son of a Yankee ship's captain, and fits in as a sailor in Java. He finds that keeping tabs on the energetic scientist is difficult, considering the man is convinced someone is out to kill him.
All fun reads! And I have half a dozen more stories to go.
I went to the grocery store March 13. That day contained a double whammy. School districts had just announced they added a week to spring break to prevent the spread of the corona virus. And it was snowing.
We are Colorado preppers-lite. You never know when a blizzard will hit. The Bomb Cyclone of 2019 closed the city down for a few days. Our shelves are always stocked with the basics.
Including toilet paper.
Thus my family was quite amused, and maybe a little horrified, at the last minute hoarding. During my trip to the grocery store, many shoppers exchanged smiles, and joked about the panic buyers.
I was not entirely smug. In fact, the panic vibe in the grocery store began to affect me. As I rummaged through the canned beans, I had to fight the urge to load an entire case into my cart.
Most of the items I came for were oddly well-stocked. No one needed emergency guacamole or oranges. Our older daughter was confused by the absence of onions. When your family is self-quarantined for a week, do you really want onion-breath?
I was nearly in tears when a young mother, who by virtue of age and inexperience could be forgiven her lack of preparedness, told of her search for diapers. Somewhere someone has a garage full of hoarded diapers their baby will outgrown long before they are used.
No, I was not smug. I was infected by the fear. A feeling of "I've got to get mine before it's all gone" crept up on me. I had to stop, breathe, and put items I didn't need back on the shelf.
If one good thing comes from the great COVID-19 panic buying, it will be that people plan ahead for as yet unpredicted emergencies. Whether you live in blizzard or hurricane country, tornado alley or flood-prone territory, be prepared.
Two weeks of non-perishable food and paper products, OTC medicines, a case of bottled water. Follow the government guidelines from FEMA. Here's the list. You don't have to be a doomsday prepper to keep your family comfortable during inevitable emergencies.
The first weekend the COVID-19 crisis began to affect my family, we decided to go for a hike. This met the social distancing recommendations, and also exposed us to fresh air. Not much sunshine, but it was warmer than you'd imagine from the snow-dusted landscape.
We were rewarded in the Garden of the Gods with a close-up view of big horn sheep. Three rams grazed near the trail. They were undisturbed by our admiration. As we stood there staring, other hikers, and cars on the road, paused to see why we were gazing at the cliff side.
Unlike some parks, the humans had sense enough to remain at a safe and respectful distance. Maybe those big curled horns commanded attention.
If your weather doesn't permit outdoor activity at the moment, you can take a virtual trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo via their giraffe cam.
For an author, there's nothing quite as exciting as appearing on the bookstore shelves. I was thrilled to see Barnes & Noble has the current issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, with my short story Industrial Gold.
Please note the hand sanitizer dangling from my purse. Sigh. These are troubled times...
If you're self quarantining due to COVID-19 corona virus, you can subscribe to AHMM on-line, either digital or print. https://www.alfredhitchcockmysterymagazine.com/
The current issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine is on sale until April 21. I am roughly half way through my March/April copy, and have enjoyed some great stories.
The Care of Widows and Orphans by Steve Torres follows Sheriff Gonzalo during a heat wave in Puerto Rico. The author begins near the end, then flashes back to a right-of-way dispute between rural neighbors. A widow and her young daughter seek the sheriff's aid when a landowner blocks their pathway to the village. The story takes interesting twists and turns that lead to a violent end.
A letter from an ex-girlfriend in distress reaches a retired professor four months too late in Albert January and His First Love by Jim Fusilli. Albert sets about solving a missing persons case using his skills in biology and pharmacology. Along the way, he also revisits his
Bride of Torches by Kenneth Wishnia draws on a story from the Bible, in Judges 4-5.
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