2013 has been a stellar year for short stories. It takes a special gift to be able to craft short stories that captivate the reader, and EQMM is full of stories that will grab your attention. The following list features stories that I would highly recommend:
January: This issue features several holiday related stories, but my favorite this month was "There Are Roads in the Water" by Trina Corey. It is a haunting, sad, and lovely tale that I think about now and then. My second favorite for this month was a first story by law student Christopher Reece called "The Auction." The writing was clever and lighthearted.
February: My favorite story was "Never Forget Me" by Penny Hancock. I also enjoyed "One of Those Plans-the-Perfect-Crime-but-Then-Something-Goes-Teddibly,-Teddibly-Wrong Stories by Eric Cline and "Promissory Notes" by Tim L. Williams. Also, this issue featured 3 Sherlock Holmes pastiches of which my favorite was Terence Faherty's "A Scandal in Bohemia."
March/April Double Issue: "The Care and Feeding of Houseplants" by Art Taylor was my favorite of this issue. Readers fascinated with botany (and especially poisonous plants), should definitely check out this story. I also enjoyed reading "Restraint" by Alison Gaylin. This story is short and sweet...just like revenge. Other noteworthy stories in this issue include "The Playlist" by Geoffrey Thorne and "Neighbors" by Bill Pronzini.
May: This issue featured many stories that I really enjoyed, but Sue Pike's short story, "This is the Last Time," was my favorite. The main character is a child who is left alone in a hotel room in a strange country. The boy has quite an imagination, but sometimes the line between imagination and reality gets blurred. I also enjoyed "Writer's Block" by Penny Hancock; it was very succinct and believable. "The Beauty with the Million-Dollar Brains" by Robert S. Levinson and "Extra Fries" by Michael Z. Lewin were entertaining as well. Finally, be sure to check out the Passport to Crime feature; Medeiros e Albuquerque's story "Crime Unpunished" is worth the read.
June: In this issue Doug Allyn takes readers back to the Civil War in "Blaze of Glory." Meanwhile, Marilyn Todd takes us back to the wild west in "The Wickedest Town in the West." I also enjoyed "The Devil You Know" by David Dean and "Confession" by Bill Pronzini.
July: Every story in this fabulous issue was a winner; it was difficult to pick a favorite. Nevertheless, the story I keep thinking about is "The Cemetery Man" by Bill Pronzini. I also found Nina George's story set in Africa, "The Game of Her Life," haunting and memorable.
August: The last story in this issue was the first one I read and my favorite for this month; it is Sandi Ault's "Wild Justice." I'll have to check out her novels in the near future. Other stories I enjoyed this month included: "Ghost Writer" by Val McDermid, "The Weight" by Steve Hamilton, and the Passport to Crime story, "The Locked House of Pythagoras" by Soji Shimada.
September/October Double Issue: Being a social media junkie myself, I enjoyed Janice Law's short story, "Connected." It was clever and fun. I also enjoyed David Dean's story, "In A Dark Manner." After reading "Mariel" last year, I've become quite a fan of Dean's work. Other stories that caught my attention included: "Collector's Find" by V.S. Kemanis, "Borrowed Time" by Doug Allyn, and the Passport to Crime story, "Mummy Darling" by Maurizio de Giovanni. Also, be sure to check out Kevin Mims' poem, "Cereal Killer," on the last page; I absolutely loved it. All-in-all this was a fabulous issue.
November: Growing up I spent a lot of time in Madison, WI so I really connected with Kris Nelscott's story, "Sob Sisters." Also, I could identify with the characters in Charlaine Harris' story, "Small Kingdoms." Having taught high school for several years, the school environment does sometimes seem like it's own little world. Reading "Darkness in the City of Light" by Hilary Davidson was enjoyable as well.
December: I loved the futuristic setting of Edward D. Hoch's short story, "The Wolfram Hunters." I'm glad his stories are still included in EQMM from time to time. I also enjoyed "Party Girls" by Jonathan Santlofer, "Jack and the Devil" by David Dean, "The Cove" by D. A. McGuire, and "Literally Dead" by Dale C. Andrews.
Having read every single story this year, it was a challenge to pick my favorite for the entire year. However, my vote for the EQMM Readers Award Ballot went to "Wild Justice" by Sandi Ault. It has been a fantastic year for short stories, and I hope 2014 will be just as great!