Murder Most Conventional

Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional

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Edited by Verena Rose, Barb Goffman, and Rita Owen

From 1992 to 2001, Malice Domestic published annual anthologies of short mystery stories written by conference attendees, authors, and admirers. By the time I started attending Malice Domestic regularly, the anthologies were a thing of the past. Last year, conference organizers decided to revive them and sent out a call for mystery stories “set at conventions, conferences, and gatherings of all kinds.” Over sixty stories were submitted through a blind submission process; the judges selected nineteen. I’m delighted that “What Goes Around” is one of them.

Like many of my stories, this one started with a sliver of experience–or, rather, two slivers. Twice, when my husband and I have flown to a conference or another professional meeting, we’ve had suitcases disappear–stolen, I suspect, by nimble thieves who snatched them from the carousel before we made it to the unguarded luggage claim. We never got those suitcases back, and I’ve sometimes wondered about what happened to their contents, especially to things that were undoubtedly worthless to the thieves, even though losing them saddened or seriously inconvenienced us. What did the thief in New Jersey do with the unfinished needlepoint project I’d been working on for so long, the one that was supposed to be a gift for one of our daughters? What did the thief in Georgia do with the box of matzah? (Yes, that was a serious inconvenience–it’s not easy to find matzah when you arrive in Atlanta in the middle of the night, in the middle of Passover, when you don’t have access to a car.)

In “What Goes Around,” I imagine what might happen to a suitcase stolen as it goes around on an airport carousel. How might the theft affect the lives of the thief, of the victim, and of another person who becomes involved? It’s not one of my more realistic stories: It’s a fairy tale of sorts, and, as the title suggests, a fair amount of karma is involved. But I hope readers will be amused by the characters along the way, and satisfied by the way things come together in the end. I definitely found it satisfying–and a little bit comforting–to dream up a way in which some good, and some approximation of justice, might result from this all-too-common sort of casually heartless crime.

Published by Wildside Press, April 2016

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