Some investigators and criminals are blessed with brains and nerve, some with sheer dumb luck. How else to explain the ability of hapless housebreakers Yarnell and Beaumont, in R. T. Lawton’s holiday burglar series, to dig themselves out of impossible situations—literally so in “Groundhog Day”—albeit none the wiser, or richer? And luck also serves efficiency-obsessed industrial engineer Vi Celucci, in Robert Mangeot’s “Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson,” when it sends some counterfeit bills her way, prompting her to trace their source.
Luck, or fate, detours Brian Ellis on his way to a regional sales meeting, but the film buff handles the resulting situation with aplomb, and a few good lines, in John M. Floyd’s “Dreamland.” The young Chinese clerk called Rabbit feels he has encountered some bad luck when a professional thief calling in his markers demands that he draft an unusual will in “Rabbit and the Missing Daughter” by Leah Cutter. And Evan Lewis has a little fun with genre conventions in his story “The Continental Opposite,” introducing young P.I. Peter Collins (whose name, in underworld parlance, means “nobody”).
Finally, we welcome the return to these pages of Sheriff Huck Finn, Deputy Joe, and the other residents of turn-of-the-century Marquis, Iowa, in Joe Helgerson’s “The Case of Captain Nemo’s Half Brother,” in which another quirky character gets his day. Check back here on Friday, when Joe Helgerson will talk about his inspiration for this series.
With a lineup like this, your chance to enjoy our annual humor issue is more than just dumb luck.