Fri
Jun 10 2011 1:00pm

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine: 70 years of Quick Fixes

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine July 2011 IssueThis year Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine celebrates the seventieth anniversary of its first issue, which included stories by such leading lights as Dashiell Hammett, Margery Allingham, and Cornell Woolrich, among others, plus a story by author-editor Ellery Queen, pseudonym of cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee.

On my fourteenth birthday, a favorite aunt gave me a one-year subscriptionWithin a few issues, I became a life-long fan of short mystery fiction.

Over the decades, EQMM and its authors have stayed in tune with the inclinations of modern mystery readers, offering a wide assortment of stories each month. The current issue has a comic tale by Ulrike Rudolph translated from German, “Duck in the Pudding,” another that’s a murky story along the style of The Black Mask, entitled “Tomorrow’s Dead” by David Dean, and a tidy yarn from Lee Goldberg about Adrian Monk. (For a limited time, read “Mr. Monk and the Sunday Paper” as a highlighted excerpt.)

In keeping with the times, you can now also listen to EQMM’s podcasts.  Click the story title for one featuring Criminal Brief contributor and short crime author James Lincoln Warren assisting Mary Jane Maffini in reading her story “So Much in Common,” which won this year’s Agatha Award and, just recently, Canada’s Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Short Story. 

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Fall 1941 IssueGrowing up at a time when reading was a major recreational activity and secondhand book shops were all around town, it was easy for me to pick up used copies of extinct pulps like Manhunt, Black Mask, (If only I’d kept them; I bet they are worth a fortune now.) Mike Shane, The Saint, and other pulp digests filled with well-written tales of murder and mayhem. Of all the original mystery magazines I read as a kid, only Ellery Queen and its sister magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine remain.

And to make life more boring and difficult for short story enthusiasts, main stream magazines like Redbook and Good Housekeeping also let the fiction sections slip from their pages long ago. So, the entire decade of the eighties, along with the first half of the nineties, became a desert for readers who craved short fiction and short mystery fiction in particular. To get my short story fix, I relied on EQMM and AHMM, and when I had a yen for more, I wandered from branch to branch of my library system, searching for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazineanthologies. Many of the mystery anthologies such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Portraits of Murder and Ellery Queen’s Eleven Deadly Sins were compilations of stories originally printed in the magazines. Re-reading those stories was like hanging out with a group of childhood friends.  Lots of great memories, but still, I had a hankering for new friends, new memories.

And then along came the World Wide Web. Suddenly, there were new and exciting venues for short story readers. Links to a number of quality and super-slick e-zines, the likes of Mysterical-e and Spinetingler, were passed from reader to reader. A recent, and much lauded entry into the e-zine field is Beat to a Pulp, which publishes a new piece of short fiction each week in genres from mystery to sci-fi to western, even combining genres in innovative ways. (For even more cool, short crime fiction resources, see Elizabeth A. White’s blog post “Fewer Words, More Work.”)

San Diego Noir published by Akashic BooksWhile I have to give the web credit for helping to revive interest in short stories for both readers and authors, there’s been a lot of activity in the book industry as well. The Best American Mystery short stories of the year series started by Otto Penzler in the late nineties helped get reader attention.

The great success of the Noir anthology series, sorted by geography and published by Akashic Books, spurred further notice. And is it my imagination, or are new anthologies and individual author collections being released more frequently? (To read a wonderful example from San Diego Noir, link to read Luis Alberto Urrea’s “The National City Reparation Society.”) 

Happy as I am to have all this interest generated in mystery shorts, I am happier still when my copies of EQMM and AHMM pop through my mail slot. When each issue arrives, I allow myself to read one story immediately and then put the magazine on the night stand. You can bet that is the one night I jump into bed a trifle early, the quicker to get my “fix.”

Image via Phil Stephenson-Payne’s Fictionmags Index/Galactic Central.


According to Terrie, writing short mystery fiction is nearly as much fun as hanging out with any or all of her seven grandchildren. One of her recent shorts can be found in the anthology Crimes By Moonlight,  Terrie blogs at Women of Mystery.

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12 comments
Leigh Lundin
1. Leigh_Lundin
I checked my mailbox today for the issue and it's not here yet!

The podcasts are great. I download them into iTunes and listen while I'm having lunch.

Terrie, love your writing!
Terrie Farley Moran
2. Terrie
Thanks, Leigh. And aren't we like little kids waiting for a special surprise at the mailbox each month, waiting for EQMM and AHMM? Every issue is a surprise, filled with treats.
Lois Karlin
3. LoisKarlin
You sound like a kid with a birthday present! I got hooked on short
stories listening to NPR Shorts (I'm always in danger of driving off the
road!) and the rich availability of mystery stories on the ezines is a
real pleasure. Nice to see shorts having a heyday.
Terrie Farley Moran
4. Terrie
kid with a birthday present-- that is exactly how I feel when I get a new issue of a mystery magazine. And I am learning to enjoy audio. I have to start listening to NPR shorts. Kathy Ryan mentioned it about a year ago and I just never got around to finding it on the radio. That is a great project for this weekend. Thanks, rain99 aka Lois.
5. Todd Mason
And there are other surviving paper and ink magazines still devoted to crime fiction, such as THE STRAND and CRIMEWAVE and NEEDLE and HARDBOILED and (though here we get into the celebration of serious sleaze) OUT OF THE GUTTERS, though only the first two are likely to be on even the best newsstands (you can find all of them on the web, and have them cheerfully populating your mailbox, too)...and such eclectic little magazines as BLACK CLOCK and BOULEVARD (and the horror/suspense magazine CEMETERY DANCE) running a fair amount of crime fiction in their mixes (stories from them and CONJUNCTIONS and WITNESS and such popping up fairly regularly in the Penzler volume...sadly, the death of Martin H. Greenberg might mean the end of the annual he and Ed Gorman have been assembling, as interesting and even more web-savvy than the Penzler).
6. Todd Mason
...and pulps and digests were two distinct formats...the digests (such as EQMM, AHMM, MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, MANHUNT and others) pretty much supplanted the dying pulp format (BLACK MASK) in the 1950s. The digests usually used somewhat better paper than the thick pulp paper of their predecessor magazines, which were usually as tall and wide as their cousins the comic books (most comic publishers had been pulp publishers earlier and at the same time, and the comics tended to gravitate to the same dimensions), and the digests were called such for being in roughly the same dimensions as the likes of READER'S DIGEST and BOOK DIGEST.
Deborah Lacy
7. DeborahLacy
@ToddMason - You seem like a kid with a present as well. I love these magazines and also hunt for good anthologies.

The Mystery Writers of America yearly tome is always a good one. I particularly liked CRIMES BY MOONLIGHT, the one edited by Charlaine Harris a year or two ago.
Terrie Farley Moran
8. Terrie
@ Todd, thanks for such a comprehensive list of sources of short mystery fiction. @Deb, the MWA anthologies are always wonderful, as are the Sisters in Crime chapter anthologies. The New York/ TriState chapter has their second chapter anthology scheduled for release in a few weeks. (Plug! Plug!)
9. Jacqueline Seewald
As a mystery reader and writer, I enjoyed the blog. Thanks for posting. Jacqueline Seewald THE TRUTH SLEUTH
Terrie Farley Moran
10. Terrie
Criminal Element is a joyful place for mystery writers and readers. I'm so glad you stopped by and extra glad that you enjoyed this post.
11. miriam biskin
many years ago you published my story called "A Spy by any other Name'' and I would like a copy. Don't know where to look. Archives, can't find.
Terrie Farley Moran
12. Terrie
Miriam, this is not the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine website. You can reach them by clicking here. Good luck. I hope you find your story.
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