Mercury Mystery #66 from 1943 reprints nine stories from the earlier hardback of the same name with 25. Queen’s challenge is simple:
“I’ll change the familiar names of the detectives to ones of my own invention, and I’ll challenge the reader to deduce who the detective is in each story. The only alteration of the original text will be the disguising of the detective’s name.
“[T]here will be clues galore . . . Clues created by the author of the story, lying right there in the author’s own text.”
Steve Carper explores this forgotten beauty and others in his article “The Riddle of the Ellery Queen Selects Series” in The Digest Enthusiast book five.
EQMM Nov 2014 with Art Taylor’s “The Odds Are Against Us”
An excerpt from Art Taylor’s interview in The Digest Enthusiast #4 in June 2016.
TDE: Most of your stories explore relationships, reactions and decisions that characters have to live with. What appeals to you about this approach?
AT: Basically, I think those themes are just at the core of my own interests and obsessions. A fellow writer, E.A. Aymar, pointed out to me—nicely—that I wasn’t very good at branding my work, since my stories were all over the place in terms of subgenre and tone and whatever: noir here, cozy there; traditional structure here, something more experimental there; etc. And I’m certain that readers who have enjoyed some of my darker stories might well be bewildered by some of the lighter comedy of On the Road with Del & Louise. But to me, so many of these stories come down to the same elements: the responsibilities inherent in being in a relationship; the times when that relationship is tested; the decision to respect or betray the relationship; the fallout from that decision. Whatever the circumstances or situation that might drive that central storyline, and whatever the various combinations of choices and consequences that might result, those questions and that theme are what I return to time and time again.
EQMM S/O 2013 with Art Taylor’s “Ithica 37”
“Ithica 37” marks the seventh appearance of a short story by Art Taylor, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, the Sept/Oct 2013 double issue. A relatively simple young man, whose life seems absorbed in movies, subscribes to a morass of righteous principles and feels it’s his duty to protect his younger sister from life’s darker influences after their only remaining parent’s death.
We interviewed Art about his writing and many of his individual stories in The Digest Enthusiast #4 in June 2016.
EQMM Mar/Apr 2013 with Art Taylor’s “The Care and Feeding of Houseplants”
An excerpt from Art Taylor’s interview in The Digest Enthusiast book four. When asked if he relied on existing knowledge or research for the background of his stories he said this about his story from the Mar/Apr 2013 issue of EQMM:
Art: For “The Care and Feeding of Houseplants,” however, I was in new territory. I know little about plants, and they regularly perish under my own care. But plants—and plants versus animals—seemed a necessary metaphorical element to the story I was working on, so I ended up reaching out to a botany professor here at George Mason University with some questions.
“Funny story there—partly a plot spoiler, I’m afraid. When I emailed her—this was back in 2007 or so, as I recall—I also asked about ricin, and she quickly responded that I should call instead of emailing. When I did get her on the phone, she told me that she’d worked at Quantico for a while and that our email exchange had probably already been flagged by the government because of that mention of ricin. I laughed at the time. Seriously? Like the government is checking through everyone’s emails? Again, this was around 2007, so . . . .”
EQMM May 2011 with Taylor’s “A Drowning at Snow’s Cut”
An excerpt from Art Taylor’s interview from The Digest Enthusiast book four:
TDE: “Your stories often include a particular interest or experience like sailing, houseplants, prep school, etc. What influences these choices? Do you draw mostly on existing knowledge or research?”
AT: “Some of my fiction draws on my own background and experiences. “Rearview Mirror”—the opening of On the Road with Del & Louise—was inspired by a trip my wife and I took to New Mexico several years ago. Similarly, “A Drowning at Snow’s Cut” was based in part on a boat trip my father and I took down the North Carolina coast. “A Voice from the Past” centers on some hazing incidents very similar to the rat system at the boarding school I attended. All those are pretty heavily fictionalized beyond those core elements, of course, but building from that foundation has helped to fuel the imagination.”Incidentally, the cover of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine with Art’s “Snow Cut” story, features a gallery of EQMM’s esteemed review team by Tom Roberts. From left to right: John Dickson Carr, Allen J. Hubin, Anthony Boucher, Jon L. Breen, and as
Incidentally, the cover of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine with Art’s “Snow Cut” story, features a gallery of EQMM’s esteemed review team painted by Tom Roberts. From left to right: John Dickson Carr, Allen J. Hubin, Anthony Boucher, Jon L. Breen, and as conductor, Howard Haycraft. This issue marked the last regular installment of the review column “The Jury Box” by Jon L. Breen, who would hand the gavel to Steve Steinbock for June 2011.
EQMM Aug. 2009 included Art Taylor’s “A Voice from the Past,” which he spoke about in this excerpt from his interview in The Digest Enthusiast book four:
“I wrote about half of my story ‘A Voice from the Past’ and then put it aside for several years, not sure where to go next with it. When I returned to it with fresh eyes, I came up with ideas about the rest of the plot, what seemed suddenly not just right but maybe inevitable, given all the seeds I’d planted in the first half.”
Art’s “Parallel Play” from the Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warming anthology, won the Agatha Award for Best Short Story in May 2017.
AHMM Mar/Apr 2017
There’s a small notice in the current issue of AHMM. It serves as both a page filler and a call to action, and it’s worth repeating:
Note to Our Readers:
If you have difficulty finding Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine at your preferred retailer, we want to help. First, let the store manager know that you want the store to carry this magazine. Then send us a letter or postcard mentioning AHMM and giving us the full name and address of the store. Write to us at:
Dell Magazines, Dept. NS
6 Prowitt Street
Norwalk, CT 06855-1220
Use the above address for AHMM, Analog, Asimov’s and EQMM.
It works. I did it for Fate, which I couldn’t find at any retailer in Portland. Now Rich’s on 9th and Alder downtown carries it. What a kick to see the new issue on their racks.
For convenience, here’s a few more addresses:
Fantasy & Science Fiction
PO Box 3447
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Fate magazine 800-728-2730
PO Box 460
Lakeville, MN 55044
Nostalgia Digest (773) 769-6575
PO Box 25734
Chicago, IL 60625
The final story in the final Ellery Queen digest-sized collection of Dashiell Hammett shorts—Mercury Mystery #233 (1962)—is “When Luck’s Running Good.” The opening paragraph follows:
“A shriek, unmistakenly feminine, and throbbing with terror, pierced the fog. Phil Truax, hurrying up Washington Street, halted in the middle of a stride and became as motionless as the stone apartment buildings that flanked the street.”
Originally titled “Laughing Masks,” the story first appeared in Action Stories in November 1923 under Hammett’s Peter Collinson pseudonym.
(Image from Galactic Central.)
Originally titled “The Dimple” when it appeared in Saucy Stories, October 15, 1923, this short, short tale by Dashiell Hammett was retitled “In the Morgue” for Mercury Mystery #233, February 20, 1962. Here’s the opening from the latter:
“Walter Dowe took the last sheet of the manuscript from his typewriter with a satisfied sigh and leaned back in his chair, turning his face to the ceiling to ease the stiffened muscles of his neck. Then he looked at the clock: 3:15 A.M. He yawned, got to his feet, switched off the lights, and went down the hall to his bedroom.”
To introduce the story Ellery Queen informs readers, “A generation or so ago, when this story was first published, an author was not permitted to refer in print to a woman’s legs—they had to be called “limbs”. . .” Even in a magazine called Saucy Stories?!?!?
(Image from Mike Hubert’s Dashiell Hammett website.)
Black Mask, November 15, 1923
“The Second-Story Angel” by Dashiell Hammett first saw print in Black Mask, November 15, 1923. It was reprinted in Ellery Queen’s final digest-sized Hammett collection, Mercury Mystery #233, February 20, 1962. Here’s the opening line:
“Carter Brigham—Carter Webright Brigham in the tables of contents of various popular magazines—woke with a start, passing from unconsciousness into full awareness too suddenly to doubt that his sleep had been disturbed by something external.”
Image from Sean Levin and Win Scott Eckert’s Crossover Universe.