Mystic Dream by John F. Dobbyn takes place at a horse racing track. A legendary trainer fears he has lost his touch when his horses start losing every race. Charlie has staked his reputation and his life's savings on a dream filly. He might lose everything if his former jockey can't help him unravel the mystery.
If you go to The Library of Poisonville by Robert Lopresti, tucked away in mountain catacombs, you can check out references to classic mystery fiction by the dozens. An online friendship between two mystery fiction fans and first edition collectors goes live. Purist Richard Hanley's amazement at tech billionaire Emil Phoffner's collection turns to horror when Emil unveils his latest invention - a machine that generates books.
Second Sight, by David Edgerley Gates, straddles decades during the current day investigation of a body discovered when a concrete garage floor is dug up for renovation. The story takes place in New Mexico, and is rich with the setting unique to that state.
The contrast with the setting in The Pledge, by Susan Oleksiw, is dramatic, taking the reader from the heat of the southwest to the frozen New Hampshire winter. This story spans time, too, although measured in months, not decades. A fraternity pledge is sent on a wintry hike by a member with an ax to grind.
Reckoning With Your Host, by R. T. Lawton, drops us in the middle of a battle between opium warlords. A family war rages between brothers, rivals for control of their father's domain. The narrator travels through a dense jungle in Southeast Asia, with lush descriptions that make you feel you're in the middle of the action.
We travel to post-Civil War era Bentonville, Arkansas, in Nancy Pauline Simpson's story The Amputation Pit. The mystery involves the Civil War practice of tossing amputated limps into pits, so horrific and plentiful were the battle injuries. Old timers from that time period would rather forget their roles in a decades old murder.
Next we're in modern Chicago with Wayne J. Gardiner's story, Strictly Business. A man happens upon a gangster's transfer of money in a publicly placed briefcase. Whether and how the man can extricate himself from a dangerous situation is the basis for the tale, set primarily in a tense exchange in the Four Seasons lounge.
Plein Air by Elaine Menge follows rivalries between artists, as a student stalks his favorite teacher. It's not the location as much as the setting in the academic world of artists that takes us out of our own world.
A Beastly Trial by Mark Thielman is another historical mystery, where a medieval lawyer in France must find a way to please both sides of a tricky case involving murderous swine.
We travel to Hawaii for J. D. L. R., by Albert Tucher. A native Hawaiian police officer faces a honeymoon gone wrong at a popular tourist site - Akaka Falls.
In The Substitute Dealer, Jeff Soloway travels inside a mother's broken heart when her son is murdered. We slowly learn this woman is not your typical mom.
The final tale in this issue is the Black Orchard Novella Award winner The Red Taxi, by Ted Burge. The slightly futuristic premise of self-driving taxis takes place in San Francisco. A homeless private detective is hired to learn how a taxi turned murderous.
Lee Lofland's Case Files this issue is on the topic of the differences between police chiefs and sheriffs.
I enjoyed every story in this issue, as authors transported me to unique settings, historical periods, and situations.