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Story A Day: “Mischief in Mesopotamia” by Dana Cameron

May 1, 2013

shortstorymonth320x320May 1 kicks off the “first organized international Short Story Month,” inspired by the StoryADay in May writing challenge. There’s simply no way for me to write a story a day myself (though I’m planning to have my current story-in-progress finished by the end of the month). But I do plan to try to read a story a day this month and post about them here—and having said that, I’m committed now, I guess.

First up today and tomorrow are a couple of stories I should’ve read long before now, given the circumstances. On Saturday, I’ll be among the finalists for this year’s Agatha Award for Best Short Story, and while I’ve already read and enjoyed Barb Goffman’s “The Lord is My Shamus” and B.K. Steven’s “Thea’s First Husband”—terrific tales each—the other two finalists have been waiting far too long on my TBR pile.

I’ve always admired Dana Cameron’s stories, and her Agatha-nominated tale “Mischief in Mesopotamia” proves a delight as well. Archeologist and part-time sleuth Emma Fielding is desperately trying to escape all her work duties while on vacation in southeast Turkey but quickly finds her time taxed by the thoughtless members of her tour group (those tacky Americans!)—and then finds her investigative skills challenged too, when at least one of them seems to be behind the theft of ancient artifacts. Suspects abound, false clues are liberally planted, and the real clue that solves the mystery is both subtly folded into the storyline and, ultimately, completely satisfying.

Tomorrow, Sheila Connolly’s “Kept in the Dark.” And my nominated story is available too, of course: “When Duty Calls.” Art Taylor

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