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Mystery Magazine: At 70, Ellery Queen's publication still has a clue

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(Read caption) The stories in today's Mystery Magazine are sometimes edgier, and fewer people are writing traditional whodunnits.

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When Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine first appeared in 1941, the detective story was more read than respected, frowned upon by the fusty gatekeepers of the literary establishment.

Over the next seven decades, the mystery novel has clawed its way to a better reputation, although it still doesn't get invited to the best dinner parties. (Good thing: Knocking off the host is considered gauche.)

While they don't get as much attention, mystery short stories have tagged along for the ride to semi-respectability. In large part, that's thanks to what fans like to call EQMM. As always, it's a compilation of both new and classic mystery short stories along with columns about topics like books and, now, sites on the Internet.

The last couple of decades have been rough on the monthly magazine, which now has about a readership of about 30,000. But Janet Hutchings, its editor of 20 years, says the Internet era is boosting EQMM's profile and leading to a rebirth. In an interview this week, we talked about the evolution of mysteries, the long odds against getting your story published and the value of violating writerly rules.

Q: What do you like best about short stories?
It's so complete. You read it in one sitting, and the impact is different just because you're reading it all at once. That's what I enjoy the most.

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