I confess that it seems a bit odd to include Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in our series “If You Don’t Know Them, It’s a Crime”; at more than a half-century old, this venerable publication has been around longer than many of today’s top crime-fiction authors, some of whom got their first taste of publication within its pages. Can anyone call themselves a fan of the genre if they haven’t at least fanned the pages of this digest? But not including it would seem like a glaring omission—and, on the off chance that a crime-fiction newbie hasn’t yet discovered AHMM, it will be our pleasure to make the introduction. Linda Landrigan, editor since 2002, was kind enough to give the lowdown.
It’s a great pleasure to visit the “Likely Stories” blog on behalf of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, or AHMM as we more familiarly call it. We’re great fans of libraries in my family; in fact, my husband is a trustee of our local library in rural New England.
AHMM is a monthly, digest-sized magazine publishing original mystery and crime fiction. Founded in 1956, it is the second-oldest mystery magazine in America, behind only our sister magazine, Ellery Queen.
I think librarians and library patrons are interested in AHMM for several reasons. One is that they can frequently find new stories by favorite authors whose books are already on the library’s shelves: our June 2012 issue, for example, features stories by Jane K. Cleland, author of the Josie Prescott Antiques series, and Kenneth Wishnia, whose story “Cups and Varlets” continues the adventures of Rabbi Ben-Akiva from his novel The Fifth Servant. Other regular contributors include Rhys Bowen, Elaine Viets, Loren D. Estleman, and Brendan DuBois.
There’s also the chance of meeting new writers early in their careers. AHMM was the first to publish I. J. Parker, who writes the Akitada P.I. series set in ancient Japan; Steve Hockensmith, author of the Holmes on the Range series; Martin Limón, who created the Army CID agents Ernie Bascom and George Sueño, based in occupied South Korea); and Russel D. McLean, who writes a series of dark P.I. novels set in Dundee, Scotland. We also published early stories by Joan Druett and Brad Parks.
However, there are also many talented mystery writers who specialize in the short story and who readers won’t have the chance to meet through novels. Our readers’ favorites include John H. Dirckx and his procedurals featuring Detective Sergeant Cyrus Auburn; D. A. McGuire’s Cape Cod series featuring the troubled teen Herbie Sawyer; stories featuring the crabby mystery writer Leopold Longshanks by Robert Lopresti (himself a librarian); and anything by the wide-ranging R. T. Lawton.
Anthologies of original mystery stories have become very popular in recent years, but these volumes are most often limited to a particular theme and often only include stories within a narrow range of styles. Each issue of AHMM, on the other hand, strives for variety and balance, so that you are likely to find a hardboiled detective story next to a ghost story next to a cozy. We also offer some special features. Each issue carries a book review column and a flash fiction “Mysterious Photograph” contest (we average 200 entries per month). Every three months, we publish a Mystery Classic that has been selected and introduced by one of our regular contributors: recently, we’ve feature stories by Agatha Christie, Cornell Woolrich, and Georgette Heyer. And once a year, we publish the winning entry in the Black Orchid Novella Contest, which is jointly sponsored by AHMM and the Wolfe Pack, the Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe fan club.
For someone who grew up with AHMM, editing the magazine is a dream job. I was fortunate enough to join the magazine under Cathleen Jordan, who was a great editor. I learned a lot from her. She was easy to work for—she had a healthy sense of humor—but she also demanded the best from everyone and the best for the magazine. I learned so much from her that in many ways, her stamp on the magazine can still be felt.
I know that there are many mystery fans among librarians and library patrons, and I am proud to think that AHMM has a place in many library collections across the country.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Data
Frequency of publication: Monthly
Cost to subscribe: $32.97 for one year