Before heading to the airport on a business trip, I had the foresight to grab a couple back issues of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. During the flights, and while in my hotel room, I finished reading the May/June and July/August issues.
Starting with May/June, I read Shopping for Fun and Profit by Neil Schofield. Mrs. Minchin, recently widowed, rants about how much she hates supermarkets. She describes shoppers as “Poor benighted things, shopping in an Inner Circle of Hell, guided by spirit voices.” I was several pages in, wondering if there was a point to the story, but enjoying the humor. Lines like “I try to do my little bit of shopping when there are no mothers about with their countless screaming ankle-biters, when the cereals section becomes the true Home of British Horror,” kept me going. There is a point to the story, and as is fitting with AHMM, it does involve a crime. I laughed out loud on the airplane, safe in the knowledge that my fellow passengers wore ear buds and were focused on the screens of their smart phones.
In One-Day Pass, by B. K. Stevens, we learn there is paperwork in the afterlife. “’With that, and with all the orientation sessions and getting-to-know-you games, they keep you pretty busy.’” A private investigator’s deceased partner comes back from the dead on a one-day pass. He is not seeking revenge for his own murder, which puzzles the living PI. The dead PI was a hard-drinking womanizer, the stereotype of the fictional PI. His living partner has allowed his wife to decorate the office with plants, which rather horrifies the dead PI. This is a terrific story that kept me guessing until the end.
The July/August AHMM issue contained plenty of entertainment for my travels. Not My Circus. . . by Josh Pachter is a very short story. Jeffrey and Sally’s marriage of four years has ground to an unsatisfying emotional end. If he divorces her, the townhouse mortgage is in her name, and he has no hope of enjoying his current lifestyle on his auto mechanic income. The title, half of an old Polish saying from Jeffrey’s grandfather, places a recurring role in the story.
The cover story of the July/August issue is The Black Drop of Venus, by Mark Thielman. Also winner of the Black Orchid Novella Award, this historical mystery is set on the HMS Endeavour with Captain James Cook. When a botanist is murdered on board, scientist Joseph Banks is ordered by the captain to solve the mystery before he will be allowed to go ashore on Tahiti to collect plant and animal samples. Banks gathers clues and interviews shipmates reluctant to cooperate.
I was grateful to have great reading material on my trip. Business travel can be tedious, but the miles flew by with my copies of AHMM firmly in hand.
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