Text by Diane Slocum


ctober, with its emphasis on Halloween, the mysterious and the macabre, is a good time to delve into stories that feature murder and mystery.

Charlotte McConaghy’s “Once There Were Wolves” is that and much more. In this literary novel, Inti Flynn is in Scotland to release wolves into the remnants of the forest where they no longer exist. With Inti is her twin sister, Aggie, whose mind is locked into itself after what they endured in Alaska. Inti reacts by guarding her emotions against the possibility of love for anyone else. She also struggles with a synesthesia that causes her to feel whatever others, human or animal, feel physically. Initially, the wolves do surprisingly well. But then a farmer is murdered and it seems that the wolves could be responsible. Or it could also be the one man she has felt close to. 


For those who want to read or write mysteries, there are a lot of good magazines to choose from. Here are a few.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine — Some of the intriguing titles in the September/October issue are “Gnawing at the Cat’s Tail” by R.T. Lawton, “No God West of Hays” by Eric B. Ruark and “The Map Dot Murder” by Mark Thielman. The magazine publishes “whodunits to howdunits, procedurals to puzzles, and cozy to noir,” according to its description. The current editor, Linda Landrigan, says she is particularly interested in well-drawn characters. They will publish short-shorts and novellas, but prefer about 12,000 words. 

All Due Respect Magazine — This online magazine publishes only one story a month, with the year’s-worth of stories compiled into a book. A recent story was titled “The Christmas Goose” by Tracy Falenwolfe. It featured a mix-up of packages from a butcher shop with dire consequences. The magazine accepts hard-as-nails crime fiction of about 1,500 to 5,000 words. 

Close to the Bone Magazine — This magazine warns that some stories “may be too close to the bone — proceed with caution.” Recent stories include “The Passenger” by Simon Maltman and “Orange” by Dan A. Cardoza. It looks for emerging writers of gritty crime of between 500 and 5,000 words.


“I think kids want the same thing from a book that adults want — a fast-paced story, characters worth caring about, humor, surprises, and mystery. A good book always keeps you asking questions, and makes you keep turning pages so you can find out the answers.” — Rick Riordan, author.