Flu Attack Leads to Murder and Other Decisions
Flat on my back is a good vantage point to make some decisions about which is better reading–long or short. Long, of course, being novels, short being short stories, and that wonderful Mr. In-between, the novella.
I have a stack of Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock mystery mags on my beside table, and the stack is growing. I have in recent years been reading mostly novels for two reasons: first, I am writing a novel (I should say “have written” since it is in editing stages), and second, I do a lot of my reading for reviewing (and just plain pleasure) in bed and magazines are light enough to easily hold while sitting propped against pillows, or again flat on my back.
And they don’t bruise anything if I fall asleep and one lands on my chest.
A Queen or Hitchcock mystery is ideal for reading while flat on the back
I read at least a half-dozen issues of the two mags while recovering from the coughs and wheezes and all the rest that accompanies a mid-winter or late-spring flu–or whatever–attack. By the time I was back on my feet doing my usual literary things, I had decided that short stories were best for this kind of reading. I didn’t feel well enough to stick with a novel –or hold one up–but the short story was the perfect length.
Reading short story magazines when ill gives you lots of variety but you don’t have to challenge yourself trying to follow a complex plot. The plot may have its complexities but there can’t be too many twists and turns in a single story, because they don’t have that many words available. And when your head begins to throb, you can quickly finish, put the issue down, wait out the ache, then start again.
No mistake, though, Queen and Hitchcock mysteries are great reads, sick or well
I have been reading Hitchcock and Queen since I was a kid and have always enjoyed them. I’ll never forget the year when several of my relatives each gave me a set of hard-bound EQs for Christmas. I wish I still had them; they might be worth something on the used book market. But I had enough reading that year to last me for weeks. And, as luck would have it, it was a particularly snowy year. What better time to read mystery, murder, mayhem, whatever.
EQ and Hitch have a wide and fascinating variety of ways to murder, rob or otherwise commit crimes
The June issue has stories by Doug Allyn, Bill Pronzini, David Dean, Alexandre Dumas, other names familiar or possibly less so to some readers. The stories represent a variety of writing styles, locales and settings; characters, both good and bad; types of crimes and weapons; detectives of both genders, some witty and clever, some a bit on the dense side.
You will also find interesting reviews of new and old mysteries along with a review of mystery blogs. In the latter, I keep looking for a review of mine. Sigh . . . . Well, maybe someday.
Editing EQ must be a great job
Janet Hutchings does an excellent job of editing EQ, especially considering the enormous numbers of submissions they must get for each issue. The variety and quality of stories that make the cut is an indication of the attention given to the editing. Ms. Hutching leads the crew, but there are many others whose work has a direct effect on the quality that continues to appear in issue after issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
I can’t mention them all, but I do want to say, from an inveterate reader–thanks, Janet, and Jackie Sherbow, Susan Mangan, Victoria Green, Cindy Tiberi, Laura Tully, and Jennifer Cone, along with the many others who work in selling the magazine, and keeping track of subscribers such as MKAmysterylady.
Oh, to get back to the decision I was going to make while in bed with sniffles and worse, much worse. I was to decide which I like better, short stories or longer stories. Here is my decision, not a hard one to make. Both are great. Both have their place in the world of mystery.
I’m grateful to everybody who writes mysteries, be they long or short or in-between, and I’m equally grateful to those people who read mysteries. Writers need readers. Both have an important role in this growing mystery business.