This year has been difficult. That may be why I gravitated toward an appreciation of the lighter stories. Don't get me wrong. Every story is stellar, and well worth reading.
Buck Solves the Case, by Parker Littlewood, is told from the point of view of a cowboy's crime solving horse. A little romance, plenty of humor, and a mystery make this an entertaining read.
In Shanks Saves the World, by Robert Lopresti, mystery author Leopold Longshanks sets out to solicit a donation to repair the roof of the World Theater. He befriends a former record producer, some of whose bands performed in the old theater, in the process of seeking funds. Before he can secure a donation, the producer goes missing.
The Wolf and Lamb, by Joslyn Chase, was an exception to my quest for humor. This story of a sheltered young woman in 1888 London forced by her parson father's death to work in her uncle's tavern was a nicely written and compelling read. A killer stalks London, preying upon women who ply their trade from The Wolf and Lamb.
Sleepy River, by Michael Bracken, was a fun read about two teenage girls in a southern hamlet who long for adventure. They soon regret the realization of their summer day dreaming.
Drama in the grocery aisle unfolds in Mark Thielman's The Case of the Cereal Killer. The protagonist is a representative of the Potato Advisory Board, and peddles spuds in stores while dressed as a russet, Kennebec, or other potato variety. He stumbles onto a body in the cereal aisle, and must solve the mystery to save the lovely store manager.
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine never fails to provide an interesting variety of stories, from humorous to frightening.