Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Low Crime Rates in U.S. Cities along the Mexican Border.

In a previous post, I looked at the rates of violent crimes in border states. Those states bordering Mexico have had a huge drop in violent crime over the past 20-some years, from the time at which violent crime peaked in the United States in 1992 through 2013, the latter year being the latest data available at the time of my analysis.

The four Mexican border states and the drop in their rates of violent crimes.

California:  -63.3%
Arizona: -40.8%
New Mexico: -35.6%
Texas: -50.1%

These findings are based on the the Uniform Crime Reporting statistics. The UCR stats have been assembled by the FBI going back to the 1930s. In recent years the FBI has put their data online allowing analyses of crime rates according to standardized criteria. The annual data are, for the most part, nine months behind with the year 2016 information appearing at the end of September, 2017. In 2017, the Trump administration decided to provide much less detailed information (70% fewer tables) in comparison to previous years and this will affect future assessments.

Looking at Border Cities.

Alright, states are large and changes in crime in Northern California might not reflect activity closer to the border. So I decided to examine crime rates in another way. The FBI also collects crime statistics for cities. There are five cities on the United States-Mexico border which have a population of over 100,000.

Let's get out of the way two problems with the city statistics. First of all, as of now, the statistics available for these cities is through 2014. Secondly, in 2014, four out of five of these cities switched to the new rape definition and did not report the legacy definition numbers. This leads to an artificial bump in both rape and, to a lesser degree, total violent crime statistics for the final year of this analysis. Using national statistics over a period of four years where both definitions are used, the new definition shows a 38.1% higher incidence of rape.This figure should be reliable represents over 400,000 rapes reported with both definitions.

Violent Crime in Border Cities.

I came to this analysis with an open mind. Would I find an increase in violence? On the one hand, national violence statistics have sharply declined since the nineties. On the other hand, the city of Matamoros, on the Mexican side across the border from Brownsville, gets its name from Mata (Spanish for kill) and Moros (Moors). It did have a death cult causing havoc back in the eighties. So, is violence along the border a spooky fact or spooky myth?

The United States as a Whole.

Violent crime in the United States peaked in 1992. Percent down from peak: -51.8%.

Murders. Peaked: 1986*. Percent down from peak: -54.1%.
Rape. Peaked: 1992. Percent down from peak: -38.3%.

The United States Drop in Violent Crime.

US Decline in Violent Crime Rates
US Decline in Murder Rates
US Decline in the Rate of Rapes, Legacy Definition

A Tour of the Five Border Cities with 100,000 or more in population.

Brownsville is on the Texas-Mexican border near the Gulf of Mexico. In 2014 it had a population of 183,433.
Violent crimes. Peaked: 1988. Percent down from peak: -77.3%.
    Adjusting for legacy definition of rape: -78.5%.
Murders. Peaked: 1986. Percent down from peak: -82.9%.
Rape. Peaked: 2006. Percent down from peak: -30.0%.
    Adjusting for legacy definition: -49.3%

Brownsville Decline in Violent Crime Rate
Brownsville Decline in Murder Rate
Brownsville Decline in the Rate of Rape, Legacy Definition

Conclusion: Brownsville was a dangerous place that has greatly decreased its violence. A concerning recent uptick in rape, but still half of its peak.


Moseying up along the Rio Grande, 60 miles to the northwest, we come to the city of McAllen. In 2014 it had a population of 138,122.

Violent crimes. Peaked: 1994. Percent down from peak: -83.2%.
    Adjusting for legacy rape definition: -84.7%
Murders. Peaked: 1986. Percent down from peak: -56.6%.
Rape. Peaked: 2006. Percent down from peak: -75.7%.
    Adjusting for legacy definition: -82.4%.

McAllen, TX, Decline in Violent Crime Rate
McAllen, TX, Decline in Murder Rate
McAllen, TX, Decline in Rate of Rapes, Legacy Definition

Conclusion: McAllen, also, is a much safer place as is shown by its graphs.


Another three hours up the Rio Grande and you come to the streets of Laredo, once the capital of the Republic of the Rio Grande. In 2014, it had a population of 250,994.

Violent crimes. Peaked: 1989. Percent down from peak: -57.0%.
    Adjusting for legacy rape definition: -58.2%
Murders. Peaked: 1986. Percent down from peak: -68.2%.
Rape. Peaked: 2006. Percent down from peak: -11.9%.
    Adjusting for legacy: -36.2%.

Laredo, TX, Decline in Violent Crime Rate

Laredo, TX, Decline in Murder Rate

Laredo, TX, Decline in Rate of Rapes, Legacy Definition

The results are not quite as dramatic as they are for Brownsville and McAllen, but Laredo has also lowered its crime rate. This city had one high year (1989) in overall violent crime and if the comparisons are made to its established high in the 1990s, the decline is closer to a 40% drop. The rape statistics show a marked increase during the 1990s (prior under-reporting?).

El Paso.

The largest city along the Texas-Mexico border is El Paso. In 2014, it had a population of 680,273.

Violent crimes. Peaked: 1993. Percent down from peak: -64.4%.
    Adjusting for legacy rape definition: -65.6%
Murders. Peaked: 1986. Percent down from peak: -67.4%.
Rape. Peaked: 2006. Percent down from peak: -3.1%.
    Adjusting for legacy: -29.9%

El Paso, TX, Decline in Violent Crime Rate

El Paso, TX, Decline in Murder Rate

El Paso, TX, Decline in the Rate of Rape, Legacy Definition

El Paso has dramatically reduced its violent crime and murder rates. As with Laredo, much of the recent higher (but not highest) rate of rape is due to the revised definition.

San Diego, California has more people than the other border cities combined: in 2014, 1,368,960. They have only reported using the legacy rape definition, so there is no distinction necessary when making comparisons.

Violent crimes. Peaked: 1992. Percent down from peak: -70.3%.
Murders. Peaked: 1991. Percent down from peak: -84.4%.
Rape. Peaked: 1992. Percent down from peak: -35.6%.

San Diego, CA, Decline in Violent Crime Rate
San Diego, CA, Decline in Murder Rate
San Diego, CA, Decline in  Rate of Rapes

San Diego has shown a remarkable decrease in violent crime over the past two-plus decades.

Overall Conclusions.

Each of the border cities have shown a drop in violent crime and murder rate greater than that of the nation as a whole. While the U.S. as a whole saw a greater than 50% drop in the rate of violent crimes and murders, rapes only dropped by -38%. Each of the border cities has a lower rate of rape, with McAllen showing an -82.4% decline, and El Paso showing the least, with a-29.9% decline.

In Perspective.

In Nazi Germany, Jews were labelled as criminals and rapists. Typical is a speech of Goebbels wherein he said he does not deny Jews are humans. Neither did he deny the humanness "of murder[er]s, child rapists, thieves and pimps."

Dylan Roof, who gunned down nine African-Americans in a South Carolina church, declared the day before his attack: "you rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go."

The local head of the Ku Klux Klan clarified this sentiment: "A better target for him would have been these gang-bangers, running around rapping, raping, and stealing." [Both statements referenced here.]

Birth of a Presidency.

The same week as the comment quoted immediately above, Donald Trump, when making his speech announcing his bid for the presidency, said:

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best — they're not sending you. They’re not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

These hateful fantasies have no basis in reality.

A Couple of Statistical Notes.

"Down from peak" is potentially a problematic statistic. It can present artifacts as findings. It works great to define what's going on when you are currently at the peak, or when the peak and trough represent consistent findings. "Down from peak" also does address whether peak violence is occurring. To account for some of its potential bias, the graphs of each year reported in the database are presented.

Legacy Rape. Rape was redefined in 2013 to include more than just forcible rape. In most cases, the legacy definition numbers are included using the older definition which allows for direct comparisons. Overall, the legacy rates compared to the newly defined rates (overall, U.S., per 100,000):

           New  Old (Legacy)
2013  35.9   25.9
2014  37.0   26.6
2015  39.3   28.4
2016  40.4   29.6

Over those four years the revised definition has a 38.1% higher rate than the legacy definition.

The U.S. had its absolute peak in murders in 1980. I chose the year 1986 to be in line with information available from the cities, from 1985 to 2014.

The UCR statistical data tool has been out of service (or just not responsive to my attempts to access it) for about a week and this prevented me from following up on some of the above questions.  Fortunately, I had already downloaded the most relevant data. I hope to write a follow-up piece, soon.

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.

Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Martin Hill Ortiz is also the author of A Predator's Game. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at

Thursday, February 22, 2018

New York Times Fiction List, Male Versus Female Authors.

The Number of Weeks Atop the New York Times Best-selling Fiction Novel List, Males Versus Females.
Above shows the domination of male authors in the period 1979 through 2010 with the red (male author bars) often having more than 40 weeks. In 1993, male authors had 52 weeks. This contrasts to the most recent years, as shown in the graph below.

I have made a number of posts regarding the nature of the books and authors that have made it atop the New York Times Best-Selling Fiction list. These include the age of the authors, the length of stay on top, the length of the books, and the sex of the authors.

I am revisiting this matter due to, in contrast to the early years, women have taken over the top spots in recent years.

The New York Times Bestsellers list first became a national sampling of best-selling books on August 9th, 1942. Men spent more weeks as the author of the number one best-selling fiction book in 51 of the years from 1943 (the first complete year) through 2010 with women dominating in seven years. In ten different years women were shut out with no weeks with the number one novel. More recently, from 2011 onward, women have spent more weeks on top in 5 of 7 years.

A horse race is on. The female dominance began in 2011. However, due to dominance in the year 2010, over the course of the 2010s, males have the overall lead of 209.5 weeks versus 208.5 weeks for women. 

Women have achieved parity so far in the 2010s.

The above expands the right-most portion of the previous graph making it easier to visualize the diminution of male dominance. Since 2011, men have dominated in two years, 2013 and 2017.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hurricane Journal, Part Two.

Saturday, October 1. Day 11. If I didn't have this journal, I wouldn't know it's October. We load up on gasoline. Part of the trick is finding the right station. I see stations with crazy long lines. I find one that takes only 35 minutes.
Now with cash we go to a grocery store and buy some fresh fruit, bread and other basics.
While driving my wife's cell phone snags a signal for a moment. She sends a text message to a query from my family. She has to fight the Spanish auto-correct to get the English words: We are life. We lose the signal.
We go to Domino's pizza for lunch. Internet! It seems too remarkable to be true. I send off some emails and tremulously read about the rest of the world. The rest of the world still exists.
Donald Trump is fighting with the mayor of San Juan. Trump says FEMA is doing a great job and it's only the lying press that says otherwise. Trump says the mayor expects the federal government to do everything, insulting all of the work we've been doing here. Other than the army and lines for ice, I haven't seen the federal government doing anything here. And there is an absolute lack of coordination of information.
Trump is supposed to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday (Day 14). He has spent years insulting Latinos and his popularity here is zilch.
My sister writes back offering to help us. I don't know what to say. If she sends money to my bank, will I be able to access it? I guess I have checks. Maybe I can find a solar power installer open so I don't have to go through months of no electricity. Maybe they have months-long waiting lists.
We visit Mercedita, the local airport, about the size you'd expect from a town with nearly 200,000. They don't know when flights will resume. San Juan has very limited flights. We are told of a cruise ship that was mobbed by people desperate to escape to Florida, somewhere not destroyed by the storm.
I survived Hurricane Andrew in Florida. Very bad, but there was somewhere to go. Just a little north and you got to Fort Lauderdale, where the hurricane was only a tropical storm and everything was like before.
There is no way off the island.
My son Carlos has gone crazy over UNO, playing for hours with the neighbor kid.
The water has disappeared again.
I'm told my neighbor's generator burned out. He's spending the afternoon to repair it. It starts up sounding smooth and survives several hours before firing off a round of explosions and dying.

Sunday, October 2. Day 12. Some water in the morning. We go back to Domino's for lunch, figuring we will get internet again. Nothing, although the cellular makes a connection.
Domino's has a long list of what they don't have. What they do have is thin pizza with a choice of three ingredients. No water, two choices of soda.
I've noticed a lot of this recently. Places are open but they will sell you only what you don't want to buy. Restaurants have two items on their menus.
My neighbor fights his generator but it only makes it through about three minutes of farting. I learn this is his second generator: he gave up on his first.

Monday, October 3. Day 13. Major goal of the day: refills on medicines. We have three to five days remaining. Walgreen's has "its system down." A group is waiting for the system to return. I'm told they've been waiting three hours. This wouldn't work for everyone because you have to pay in cash: no insurance can be contacted.
I try another pharmacy. This one informs me that without the system of insurance to contact the insurance, the prescription is $277.50, cash. I tell them I can't pay for it. They agree to sell it to me for the price it was the last time with insurance but that I will have to pay the difference if the insurance later declines. With insurance: $5.00.
The generator at the medical school has been out for twenty-four hours before being fixed. All of the scientific specimens are at risk of being lost. The school has also been the place where we've been recharging our electronics which is something we have to skip.
My neighbor now has a small, quiet generator. It purrs softly. He has electricity. Real, uninterruptable electricity.
To see a movie, we gather around a laptop computer and watch "Die Hard" using its battery.

Tuesday, October 4. Day 14. I see a newspaper. Trump is to visit Puerto Rico today. Fifty-some people slaughtered in Las Vegas.
We come to an intersection with no police guiding traffic. It takes me a moment to realize that it has a working traffic signal.
There are a lot of dead iguanas, killed while crossing the roads. They live in trees and so many of their homes are trashed.
We watch "Die Hard 2." A trail of gasoline on fire moves faster than a jet and can fly into the air to explode it.
Horribly hot night. Humidity, no breeze.

Wednesday, October 5. Day 15. Since I counted the storm as Day One, this means two weeks have passed. That one time we had internet, for all of thirty minutes has spoiled me. I sent out a general email to my family, thinking I would communicate again soon. I'm sure there must be internet somewhere. I am writing this journal with the notion of posting it, but I wonder when that will be.
Cell phone service is extremely spotty. Cars line the roadside in areas where their cell phones work, their emergency lights blinking.
The car, with air conditioning, is a much more pleasant place to be than in the house.
Trump threw paper towels to hurricane victims. If he had thrown a generator I would have jumped out and caught it.

Thursday, October 6. Day 16. We go back to WalMart and find a butane grill for cheap, thinking we can make some hot meals. No butane. Anywhere. We still haven't found "D" batteries for our portable fan. They have some generators, $800. That's more than I have on me or in the bank. I'm supposed to be paid tomorrow, but will the automatic deposit work?
We get in the wrong line and instead of arriving to pay at a register, find that we are lined up for ice. The register at the second line closes on us. The third line works.
We pass a gas station with only four cars waiting. We pull up and wait. Only 10 minutes.
Die Hard 3: Die or Die Trying.

Friday, October 7. Day 17. Worst day ever. I go to work to fix up my office. We have a meeting scheduled for Monday to discuss what we are going to do with the semester. My wife and son arrive at the school, weeping. It seems that when I left for work this morning, I ran over Max, one of our dogs. He's dead.
I had no idea I hit him. No bump, no yelp. I arrange the disposal of his body and clean up some of the blood.
My family want another dog to replace him, seemingly immediately. I would prefer time to mourn. They win. We make a visit to Maria Rivera. We call her Maria de los Perros. She rescues strays and makes a home for them. Twenty live in her house and she has another eighty at an old house in the mountains. She is at her house and we will return tomorrow to go to her dog refuge.

Saturday, October 8. Day 18. We go on a pilgrimage to Maria de los Perros's dog sanctuary. The hurricane has wiped out the last quarter mile of the way there and we have to park and march uphill, carrying water for the dogs. Mudslides cover part of the road. Other parts were washed away leaving a long drop down to the river. Some trees crashed over the fence and several dogs have escaped.
Maria has in mind for us a friendly dog who has been at the compound for four years without finding a home. It is part Shih-Tzu, half-mutt, a Shmutt-zu. Sounds Yiddish. The dog is named Frijolitos, "Beans." She was discovered abandoned when she was tiny enough to be scavenging a meal with her head in a can of beans.
She takes instantly to Carlos, very affectionate. There are several other candidates but we settle on Beans.
We take her home and give her a good scrubbing. She sleeps with Carlos.

Sunday, October 9. Day 19.
I didn't write a post for this day, and now, looking back, two days later, I can't think of a thing that happened.

Monday, October 10. Day 20.
The faculty meet to discuss how to finish the semester. Many options are still open: the students going to Florida or Missouri and the teachers teaching them there. We may continue through December and have final exams in January.
My students, second year, are particularly vulnerable. We have a strict schedule to maintain to prepare the students for the Medical Board exams.
Their classroom lost its roof and is completely trashed. A schedule may include weekend classes.
A main problem is communication. No phone and no internet. I suggest a central bulletin board where we post messages. We discuss PTSD in students and faculty. 
I let out a short scream to summarize my perspective.
My office has internet for a few hours. I read up about the world.
Six p.m., the lights turn on in my neighborhood. Most of the neighbors are outside their houses and break into applause.
Seven p.m. the electricity disappears.
Eight-thirty, it returns. We sleep with air conditioner and fan.

Tuesday, October 11. Day 21.
I meet with my department faculty to plan how we are going to deliver lectures given different possibilities of internet access (we posted videos and notes for the students that were essential to the lectures).
We put together a schedule for the next few weeks using time allotted to my class.
Twelve p.m., internet access, just when my wife and son meet me for lunch. When I return, the electricity goes out for the school and I sit in the dark.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hurricane Journal

I am composing this journal as we go along but I don't know when I'll be able to post it. Excuse the rough editing. I've seen internet anywhere once in the last three weeks and then for thirty minutes. When you see this, it will mean I found internet somewhere again and had a chance to post it. I apologize to all those I've not been able to contact.

Monday, September 18. Zero Minus Two. My wife finds passage on the internet, two tickets to Panama for herself and our ten year old son with the hopes of escaping the storm altogether. I don't have the credit available on my card to buy the tickets. I call the credit card company to ask if I can pay using my savings account. No, I'm told. I ask them for an extension on my credit and they transfer me: to fraud. Trying again, this time I'm connected to the right department. After a woman takes all of my information, she says our credit will be extended: in five days. She says she will send a new card by mail. I tell her there won't be mail in five days and cancel the extension.

Tuesday, September 19. Zero Minus One: Most stores are closed, the rest will be closed by noon. We've gathered up supplies and prepare to brave it out in my house. Five five-gallon tanks of fresh water, much more water for washing up. Perishables in the freezer with two bags of ice. Canned goods, nacho chips, other ready-to-eat food. I grab a couple of bags of popped popcorn, figuring that we won't be able to pop any any time soon.
We have an expensive flashlight that is supposed to last for 39 hours before recharging. We have candles. We have extra batteries for the radio and flashlights.
I believe we are ready.
Like most houses in Puerto Rico, ours is built like a bunker: cement walls, flat roof. Luis Ferré, ex-governor, cement manufacturer and philanthropist, preached the importance of build tough housing to survive hurricanes and got rich doing it. However, if we lose our roof, the cement walls will be little comfort.
Final NHC report at 11 p.m.. Maria is 165 mph with possible strengthening and is expected to make landfall over the southeastern part of the island and slice across the whole of the island, hurricane everywhere. It is expected to pass north of Ponce at approximately 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Ponce is a moderate-sized town, about 180,000 people sixty driving miles from San Juan. We are on the south coast.

Wednesday, September 20. Day One. Three in the morning. We are awakened by furious gusts. Soon, the electricity cuts off. My wife notes that she has no cellular service. This surprises me, seems too early. And why the cellular? Four a.m., the winds have picked up to a constant tropical storm force. Six a.m., with "daylight" we can look out the front windows and see the wind whipping the trees. Hurricane force. Eleven a.m., the hurricane is at maximum force, winds still coming from the north. A huge tree topples on to the neighbor's house. The tree in front of our house has lost half of its height from broken limbs. A tree in the vacant lot in back of our house is lashing our roof, making loud banging sounds. I'm afraid the back room might be breached and move everything out.
We have two street-rescue dogs, both Chihuahua-miscellaneous mixes, Max and Chloe. Max is the kind who feigns valor who has used his voice to protect from many mailmen-assassins. He is part kangaroo and loves to jump on to the sofa cushions up to the back of the sofa and then fly through the air. Chloe spins in worried circles, always counterclockwise. Both are terrified and huddle close to us.
At about 1 p.m., the winds have died down, an unnatural drop-off. The eye? Could it have come here? My neighbor shouts to me that he needs my ladder. He climbs to his roof and unstops the drains which are clogged with leaves. I do the same on my house. A flat roof, there is about six inches of standing water. The drain pipes releases water in explosive gushes.
The wind returns, coming from the south. It continues with hurricane force for about three more hours. Then comes tropical force winds with frightening gusts. On this part of the island, I would estimate about four to six inches of rain: nothing terrible.
At six p.m., shortly before dark, we go out to explore. The street connecting to ours is a jungle, so many toppled trees that we have fight our way through to make a path and then go on all fours to crawl beneath toppled trunks. We make our way to the main drag and then head back.
Night falls. We eat bologna sandwiches for dinner.
We discover the nacho cheese dip has jalapeños. The bags of popcorn are jalapeño-flavored. It seems that the last things which I'd grabbed from the store shelves were those with jalapeños.
Remarkably, the water is working and we take drip-showers.
We moved my son's mattress to our bedroom. His room doesn't have any kind of breeze. We barely do, even with the windows open.
Our next door neighbor has an emergency generator which roars like a jet engine and then goes into a coughing fit. It fires off several rounds of M-80s and then dies. He tells us he turned it off because it was too loud to allow sleep.

Thursday, September 21. Day 2. The water stopped. We designate a wastebasket as the chamberpot. We take showers using a bucket and a bowl.
No electricity, no cellular, no phone, no internet. No communication with the rest of the world. One radio station, AM, crackles and pops and talks about the hurricane and gives no useful information.
My wife, Ana, is distressed that maybe she will not be able to get her art to Florida in time for an exhibition.
We go out to explore. Weaving our car between fallen trees we find that, not only are the stop lights not working, most of them are not there. The poles are gone and the wiring is in a tangle across the street.
The fire station looks fine. The first floor business across the street from it has lost its windows, glass and aluminum frames.
Most of the major streets are blocked by fallen poles or trees. The few drivers who have been on the road have worked out the puzzle of which streets are clear enough and we can follow their muddy tracks. An auto parts store has lost its wall. A church is completely trashed.
I see the guard in front of my work, the university. Some buildings are okay, some were damaged.
A huge tree behind a statue commemorating the Taino Indians has fallen. I snap a photo.
At five p.m., we find a restaurant with a generator. The owner is cooking and selling his perishable foods. An hour's wait and we snag the last pizza.
My neighbor has been tinkering with his generator and tonight it sounds like killer bees attacking a nuclear power plant. The bees go silent and die.

Friday, September 22. Day 3. I drive into a gas station that's open. It doesn't have gas and has most of its foods cleaned out. I buy a Diet Coke and a bag of bubblegum. My family has a bubble blowing contest with the next door neighbor kid, who wins.
I clean out all of the broken branches from the trees in front and in back of our house. I have only a handsaw, but it's a well-made one and the effort is good exercise.
I pull a fan out of the back of a scrapped desktop computer. I attach it to a 9-volt battery and hold it front of my face. It works and I have a breeze for about fifteen minutes before the battery dies.
Exploring we find that WalMart is open. A forty-minute line, cash only. An employee personally escorts us as we shop. We buy ice, fruit, some items that are moderately perishable such as bologna. I figure the ice will keep the bologna edible. They have portable fans, D batteries. I buy one but they don't have D batteries. No one does.
A trickle of water today. It shuts off by nightfall.

Saturday, September 23. Day 4. Disorienting. Still no communication with the outside world. No cellular, no phone of any kind. No news. Now there are many more radio stations, but they are maddening in that they say nothing. Various people over the airways describing their plights. They have taken up making pleas to whoever can talk to the outside world, telling them to call families in the States or wherever and provide names and numbers. A man rants that there is no way all of the cellular service and internet could go out unless it was a conspiracy. Donald Trump is using Puerto Rico as a guinea pig to test his future plans for information blackout.
No one has working phones and yet the radio regularly gives out emergency phone numbers.
No cloud cover tonight. Without electricity I was told to expect a remarkable display of stars. I see hundreds. I was promised billions and billions.

Sunday, September 24. Day 5. Have I mentioned our neighbors are great? We drop by on one another bringing snacks and morale. Come evening, groups cluster in the cool evening air and chat. A stone's throw away (–literally, a few year's back we had a problem with someone chucking stones over the wall), there is a massive low-income housing project. It is vacant. I suppose they are all in government shelters. Who wants to pass their time in apartment boxes without electricity? I wonder about those who live on upper floors of buildings, no elevators. I hear few generators. In my middle class cul-de-sac, we have exactly thirty houses and three have generators.
My neighbor's generator tonight sounds much quieter: like a Harley convention. It sputters and fires bullets. It dies.

Monday, September 25. Day 6. I wonder about FEMA. I guess they are running shelters. I don't see much of them present. I see quarter-mile long lines of people waiting for ice. I do see a lot of locals cutting up trees in the roads along with the Army Reserve. The police have to act as traffic cops at every major intersection. I don't see any car accidents, probably because everyone is looking every direction at once while driving. I also suspect a relative lack of crime. I don't hear police car sirens as often as before the hurricane and few gunshots.
We wash clothes by hand and hang them out to dry.
I work at the Ponce University of Health Sciences. I don't know how we are going to continue the semester. The medical students need to be prepared for the boards, not just given shadow puppet shows as lectures (if we had electricity for light to make the shadows).
Volunteers including me and my son go around cleaning up the damage to the school. The building with the new neuroscience laboratories is trashed: it lost its roof. A half-million dollars and they moved in Friday before the storm.
My school has a generator, most importantly to preserve valuable biological specimens. They are having trouble finding diesel and are working the generator ten hours on, ten hours off. I go to my lab to recharge devices with rechargeable batteries.
I've given up on finding ice and tossed the perishables from the freezer which now smells bad. 
The water is on with enough strength to take a shower in the shower.
My neighbor's generator sounds like a raid by Pancho Villa.

Tuesday, September 26. Day 7. I drive my family over to visit friends. Don't have to call ahead, no one has a phone. My gas gauge tells me I have 69 miles remaining so I decide today's the day to get gasoline. I tell my wife I'll be back in two hours. After two hours, I can see the station at the end of the line. After four hours, I turn the corner. After five hours I pull in. Cash only. While waiting in my car (air-conditioning on!) I finished the final two hundred pages of a Len Deighton novel and I am eighty pages into another.
I have twenty dollars remaining. I meet someone else who tells me they spent only two hours waiting for gas at a different station.
I find a newspaper, the first time in a week having outside news. (I've listened for hours to radio and there is nothing approaching coherent news.) Hurricane force winds have damaged all of Puerto Rico. Tens of billions of dollars in a place that lives with bankruptcy from not being able to pay tens of billions of bonds. 95% are without electricity or cell phone. Months before electricity will return. Months of these long dark nights. The newspaper includes basketball news but nothing of the baseball standings.
We find a Burger King open. Cash only. They get the order wrong and I protest. When I look at the receipt I realize I don't have money to pay for the correct order. I tell them that and not to change the order to the correct one. They take pity on us and bring the missing hamburger, the one I didn't pay for, to our table. 
While driving home we see a line outside an ATM machine. Those waiting tell us that the machine is going to open in 30 minutes at 6 p.m.. We join them. Others come and the line becomes hundreds long. Six p.m. passes. We wait ten more minutes and then give up, figuring that we'd been suckered by a rumor.
My neighbor's generator sounds like elephants tap-dancing on firecrackers.

Wednesday, September 27. Day 8. My goal today is to find an open bank or ATM. I have two dollars on me and most everywhere demands cash only. I've heard that my bank will open. I pass WalMart and notice their lot is nearly full. It isn't for WalMart, it's for the nearby bank.
I have an idea: I know where my bank has two branches, one across the street from the other. Wouldn't that divide any line in two? I pack water, an umbrella for the sun and a book to read.
The line at the bank isn't horrendous and even better, nearly the entire passage is in the shade. It only took 50 minutes. The bank provided a maximum of $100 and said I could take a hundred more out tomorrow.
Tonight the generator next door sounds like early rocket launches from Cape Canaveral. It blasts out pops before experiencing mission failure.

Thursday, September 28. Day 9. I go back to the bank with high hopes and no umbrella for the sun, after all, yesterday I had to wait less than an hour and mostly in the shade. This branch is closed. The other nearby one has a long line and hours in the sun.
Before going back to the house to get an umbrella to protect me from the sun, I stop at the nearby K-Mart which has just re-opened. I find some size C batteries and also buy a mosquito screen to hang over our front door. Keeping the doors and windows open is a must at night to catch whatever little breeze. The C batteries will operate our boom box, so we won't have to rely only on the pathetic short-wave, AM-FM radio. Cash only. They take all but two dollars. It is 1 p.m. and I believe plenty of time to get some money from the bank.
I get an umbrella and camp out in front of the bank. After two and a half hours, a bank employee announces they will be open for fifteen more minutes. I count 28 people still ahead of me, and I think I might have luck. There are a hundred behind me. Two minutes pass and the bank teller comes out and says there will be five more minutes.
I surrender.
At home, my wife asks me why I blew all of the money at Kmart. I blow up at her yelling it's because I'm stupid. My son, surprised by the outburst runs to his room and cries.
I try to change a five gallon tank of drinking water and lose hold of the bottle, breaking it and starting a minor flood. Ana's paintings are caught in the flood.
My neighbor has been tinkering with his generator all afternoon. Now it sounds like a Rocket '88: much quieter than any previous incarnations. It purrs along for several hours and then begins popping and dies.
About midnight, I hear his truck turn on. He is sleeping in the air-conditioning of his truck.

Friday, September 30. Day 10. My goal today is to get money from the bank. I have money in the bank. It is mine if I can get it. I am a hunter, a caveman. I must chase down the money for my family. I bring an umbrella for the sun and some water. It is a hot day, no clouds. I get in a line behind about four hundred people, this time starting at 10:30 a.m.
I finish the water in the first hour. There are many elderly people and I wonder how they can survive this wait. We talk to each other. We agree that we have money in the bank and it must be more difficult for the poor. Or maybe, since we can't get our money, we are the poor.
Two hours have passed. In spite of the umbrella, I believe I am getting sunburnt, reflection off of the asphalt. People drop emptied soda cans wherever and they are swarmed by bees. All of the flowers have blown away.
I have the physique of Donald Trump, tall and portly. I also suffer from the heartbreak of tiny hands. The Puerto Rican elderly are thin and tough: beef jerky made human.
Three hours pass. Still about 100 people in front of me. I am dehydrated. I lean against a palm tree while others save my place. Nice folks. I advise one on getting into medical school.
Four hours pass. The line seems to be moving more slowly. I count 58 people ahead of me. Maybe it was a jinx to count: the bank announces they are shutting down early.
I go home. I am exhausted and nearly in heat shock. I climb into bed and sleep.
At five p.m. my wife tells me that she heard of a grocery store that allows you to pay with ATM. We drive there to find it is closed.
On the way home, we pass an ATM with about 30 people in front of it. I think that this is due to another rumor that it is going to open. My wife convinces me to investigate. It is giving out money, the maximum, $500. I'm sure it is going to close before I get to the front of the line. Success. It is 6:30 p.m., dark-dark. We see a line at a Burger King drive-thru and celebrate with warm food. When we return past the ATM we see hundreds waiting in the dark.

Note: I have more, I'll try to edit and post soon. No electricity, no internet, spotty cell phone (October 8).

Part Two.

Monday, September 18, 2017

October: National Don't Write a Novel Month

National Don't Write a Novel Month

The people over at National Novel Writing Month advocate that you write a novel over the course of November. Their motto is: The World Needs Your Novel. According to their website, over 500,000 participated in this event in 2015 alone. A word count of 50,000 words says your novel is done.

Here are the reasons to write a novel in one month:

  1. James Patterson never takes more than a month to write a novel.

In contrast, here are the reasons to NOT write a novel in a month.

  This is a lie --> The World Needs Your Novel. <-- This is a lie.

The world does not need 500,000 novel novels each with 50,000 words. Writing agents and editors don't need 500,000 queries come December. Self-publishing venues DO NEED 500,000 novels but your relatives don't need ten copies each of  your quickly-crafted output.

My Vision.

The world needs well-written novels. For this reason, I am launching October as "Don't Write A Novel Month." Don't-Wa-No-Mo. Join over 320 million Americans and over 7.4 billion people worldwide who are not writing a novel in October.

Let's get this question out of the way: What if I am already writing a novel? Continue. Just don't start and finish a novel during October.

Writing Is a Serious Endeavor and Novels Are Not the Place to Start.

I love short novels. I advocate for them. The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse Five, The Daughter of Time, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and many others hover around the 50,000 word mark.

These novels did not take a month to write and no novel should be written in a month. Among writing projects, a novel is not the place to start. Stanley Ellin took a month to write each of his short stories and the patience and love shows. I enjoyed Stanely Ellin's short stories so much, I accidentally bought two short story collections by Stanley Elkin by mistake. (Idea: Change my name to James Puttersen.)

So you want to be a novelist.

Writing is a craft. It is not learned in a month or a year. A novelist is a cabinet-maker. With years of practice and dedication, you can make a cabinet that looks like this:

Fine craftsmanship

Or you can be proud of your IKEA I-can-slap-cork-boards-together skills.

Or you can come up with this.

Why Doesn't Mine Look Like The Picture?

But, you say, writing a novel isn't like making a cabinet: it's like constructing a building. You can take your time and with diligence and practice and more than a month's worth of effort you can design this building.

Or you can take a month and come up with this.

New Windows for an Old Building

Or this:

The key problem: Americans are taught they are special. Every advertisement, every attentive lie tells them the individual matters. Therefore, the individual concludes: what I say must also be important.

Alright, you do matter. But mattering is not a talent, and mattering is not even an accomplishment. (I was-a born in the USA! I nailed that landing!) Having something to say is not a talent. Saying it well is a talent. Writing is a talent. Learning a craft takes time and once that craft is learned, practicing it takes time. Promoting writing a novel in one month is like advocating a two-day health plan or sixty-second sex.

Poor writing is pollution. It stings the eyes. It interferes with the inhalation of life-giving beautiful prose. It clutters the mind. It creates a wasteland of unedited books that spray like skunk farts on the body of literature. It convinces its readers, victims, all of them, that literature is painful or boring to read. It insults those who take the craft seriously.

The challenge to write-a-lot is a poorly conceived proposition. Write well. Practice and in time you can express those stories locked inside you.

Don't write a novel in October. And, if I haven't yet convinced you of abandoning the one-month idea altogether, you can always write a novel in November.

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.

Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Martin Hill Ortiz is also the author of A Predator's Game. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Mystery Podcasts at Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine

EQMM Podcasts, listed by author and linked.

Updated with recent podcasts, September, 2017.

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, 76 years and counting, is the premium venue for short mystery fiction. They maintain a podcast with a Murderer's Row of murder-minded authors, now up to 95 entries with 99 stories. The episodes are listed below, sorted by author's last name. 

For those who went through my last post for EQMM podcasts, the more recent entries are marked with an asterisk. Although many of the authors are award-winners, I mentioned awards only for those tied to the specific story in question. In my previous post, the podcasts from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine were similarly indexed and linked.

Allyn, Doug. "Famous Last Words." From EQMM, November, 2009. 42 minutes.
Allyn, Doug. "Stone Cold Christmas." From EQMM January 2007. 44 minutes.
Andrews, Donna. "Normal." From EQMM, May, 2011. 34 minutes.
Anthony, Meredith. "Murder at an Ad Agency." From EQMM, March/April, 2013. 39 minutes.
Bailey, Frankie Y. "In Her Fashion." From EQMM, July, 2014. 51 minutes.
Barnard, Robert. "Rogue's Gallery." From EQMM, March, 2003. 27 minutes.
Benedict, Laura. "The Erstwhile Groom." From EQMM, September/October 2007. 35 minutes.

Brett, Simon. "Work Experience." From EQMM, September/October, 2011. 30 minutes.
Cleeves, Ann. "The Harmless Pursuits of Archibald Stamp." From EQMM, February, 1995. 22 minutes.
Cline, Eric. "Two Dwarves and Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs." From EQMM, June, 2011. 31 minutes.
Cody, Liza. See Lovesey, Peter.
Collins, Max Allan. See Spillane, Mickey.
Cooper, Mike. "Whiz Bang." From EQMM, September/October, 2011. 38 minutes.
Crider, Bill. "The Case of the Headless Man."  From EQMM, March, 1998. 35 minutes.
Dana, Cameron. "Disarming." From EQMM, June, 2011. 35 minutes.
Davidson, Hilary. "Hedge Hog." From EQMM, September/October, 2011. With author interview. 69 minutes.
Dean, David. "Ibrahim’s Eyes." From EQMM, June, 2007. 64 minutes.
Dean, David. See also: Harvey, John.
Dean, Zoë Z. "Getaway Girl." From EQMM, November, 2014. Winner of Robert L. Fish award. 29 minutes.

Dhooge, Bavo. "Stinking Plaster" From EQMM September/October 2011. 31 minutes.

DuBois, Brendan. "Breaking the Box." From EQMM, September/October, 2013. 32 minutes.
*DuBois, Brendan. "The Lake Tenant." From EQMM, November, 2015. 32 minutes. Annual Readers Award.
*Edwards, Helena. "If Anything Happens to Me." From EQMM, June, 2015. 18 minutes. Short-listed for the Margery Allingham Short Story Competition.
Edwards, Martin. "No Flowers." From EQMM, May, 2012. 34 minutes.
Faherty, Terence. "No Mystery." From EQMM, March/April, 2011 EQMM. 24 minutes.
*Flores, E. Gabriel. "The Truth of the Moment." From EQMM, December, 2016. 27 minutes. Robert L. Fish Memorial Award.
Fredrickson, Jack. "The Brick Thing." From EQMM, September/October, 2002. 28 minutes.
*Goodrich, Joseph. "The Ten-Cent Murder." From EQMM, August, 2016. 26 minutes.
Gorman, Ed. "Comeback." From EQMM, March/April 2009. 23 minutes.
Hall, Parnell. "The Petty-Cash Killing." From EQMM, November, 1999. 39 minutes.
Harris, Charlaine. "Dead Giveaway." From EQMM, December 2001. Also an interview with the author. 42 minutes.
Hart, Carolyn. "Spooked." From EQMM, March 1999. Includes panel interview with Maron, Hart and Pickard. 89 minutes.

Three stories together in one podcast: 26 minutes.
Harvey, John. "Ghosts." From EQMM, September/October, 2009.
Dean, David. "Awake." From EQMM, July, 2009.
Raines, Dave. "Suitcase in Slow Time." From EQMM, June, 2009.

Herron, Mick. "Remote Control." From EQMM, September/October, 2007. 24 minutes.

The Edward Hoch series of locked room mysteries are from a 1970s radio dramatizations produced by Dave Amaral.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of Cell 16." Dramatization. 27 minutes. From EQMM, March 1977.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Christmas Steeple." Dramatization. From EQMM, January, 1977. 27 minutes
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Country Inn." Dramatization. From EQMM, September, 1977. 28 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Covered Bridge." Dramatization. From EQMM, December, 1974. 29 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Haunted Bandstand." Dramatization. From EQMM, January 1976. 28 minutes.

Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Little Red Schoolhouse." Dramatization. From EQMM, September, 1976. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Lobster Shack." Dramatization. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Locked Caboose." Dramatization. From EQMM, May, 1976. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Old Gristmill." Dramatization. From EQMM in the March 1975. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Old Oak Tree." Dramatization. From EQMM, July, 1978. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Time Capsule." Dramatization. Originally published as "The Problem of the County Fair," in EQMM, February, 1978. 28 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Voting Booth." Dramatization. From EQMM, December, 1977. 28 minutes.
*Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Whispering House." Dramatization of a story appearing in EQMM, April, 1979. 28 minutes.

*Hochstein, Peter. "The Client, the Cat, the Wife, and the Autopsy." From EQMM, January/February 2017. 30 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "Dear Doctor Watson." From EQMM, February 2007. 35 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "Fruitcake." From EQMM, January, 2003. 25 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "Special Delivery." From EQMM, January, 2002. 32 minutes.
Howard, Clark. "Horn Man." From EQMM, June, 1980. 1981 Poe Award for Best Short Story. 38 minutes.
Howe, Melodie Johnson. "The Talking Dead." Originally published, EQMM, June 2003. 37 minutes.
Ingram, David. "A Good Man of Business." From EQMM, January, 2011. 37 minutes.
*Johnson, Russell W. "Chung Ling Soo's Greatest Trick." From EQMM, January, 2015. 29 minutes. Robert L. Fish Award winner.
Kelner, Toni L.P. "The Pirate's Debt." From EQMM, August, 2009. 76 minutes.
*Kemelman, Harry. "The Nine Mile Walk." From EQMM, April, 1947. One of my all-time favorite mystery stories. 22 minutes.
Law, Janice. "Star of the Silver Screen." From EQMM, December, 1996. 28 minutes.
Levinson, Robert S. "The Girl in the Golden Gown." From EQMM March/April 2010. 36 minutes.
Lewin, Michael Z. See Lovesey, Peter.

Three stories in one podcast: Three authors compose stories from one newspaper article. 73 minutes.
Lovesey, Peter. "Say That Again."
Cody, Liza. "The Old Story."
Lewin, Michael Z. "Wheeze."

Lutz, John. "Safe and Loft." From EQMM, March/April 2008. 32 minutes.
Maffini, Mary Jane. "So Much in Common." From EQMM September/October 2010. Read by Maffini and James Lincoln Warrne. Winner of the Agatha Award for Best Short Story. 34 minutes.
*Malliet, G.M. "The Oxford Tarts." From EQMM, March/April, 2017. 27 minutes.
*Manfredo, Lou. "Rizzo’s Good Cop." From EQMM, December, 2015. 68 minutes. Readers Award.
Marks, Paul D. "Howling at the Moon." From EQMM, November 2014. 28 minutes.
*Marks, Paul D. "Ghosts of Bunker Hill." From EQMM, December, 2016. 42 minutes. Readers Award.
Maron, Margaret. "Virgo in Sapphires." From EQMM, December, 2001. Includes panel interview with Maron, Hart and Pickard. 66 minutes.
Milchman, Jenny. "The Closet." From EQMM, November, 2012. 35 minutes.
Moran, Terrie Farley. "Fontaine House." From EQMM, August, 2012. 46 minutes.
Muller, Marcia and Pronzini, Bill. "The Chatelaine Bag." From EQMM, June, 2011. 38 minutes.
Oates, Joyce Carol. "The Fruit Cellar." From EQMM, March/April, 2004. 20 minutes.
Pachter, Josh. "The Night of Power." Originally appeared in EQMM September, 1986. 42 minutes.
Pachter, Josh. "Won't You Come Out Tonight?" From EQMM, March, 2004. 26 minutes.
Phelan, Twist. "Floored." From EQMM, June 2008. 25 minutes.
Pickard, Nancy. "Ms. Grimshank Regrets." From EQMM, May, 2008. Panel interview with Maron, Hart and Pickard. 59 minutes.
Pronzini, Bill. See Muller, Marcia.
Pullen, Karen. "Brea’s Tale." From EQMM, January, 2012. 27 minutes.

Queen, Ellery. "The Adventure of 'The Two-Headed Dog.'" From The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1934). 61 minutes.
Queen, Ellery. "A Lump of Sugar." Dramatization. From EQMM, February, 1953. 9 minutes.
Queen, Ellery. "The Myna Birds." A dramatization of the short story, Cut, Cut, Cut. From EQMM, September, 1956. 12 minutes.
*Queen, Ellery. "The Adventure of the Man Who Could Double the Size of Diamonds." From The Adventures of Ellery Queen radio series of the thirties and forties and reprinted in EQMM in May, 1943 and August, 2005. 34 minutes.
*Queen, Ellery. "The Adventure of the Seven Black Cats." First published in 1934 in the short story collection, The Adventures of Ellery Queen. 57 minutes.

Raines, Dave. See Harvey, John.
Rozan, S.J. "Golden Chance." From EQMM, December, 2012. 50 minutes.
Schofield, Neil. "Groundwork." Dramatization. From EQMM, November, 2001. 25 minutes.
*Shephard, Robert. "Just Below the Surface." From EQMM, March/April, 2017. 56 minutes.
Spillane, Mickey and Collins, Max Allan. "There's a Killer Loose!" From EQMM, August, 2008. 39 minutes.
*Steinbock, Steve. "Cleaning Up." From EQMM, March/April, 2010. 21 minutes.
Taylor, Art. "A Drowning at Snow's Cut." From EQMM, May, 2011. Winner of Derringer Award. 42 minutes.
Todd, Marilyn. "Cupid's Arrow." From EQMM, September, 2003. Dramatized reading. 47 minutes.
Todd, Marilyn. "The Wickedest Town in the West." From EQMM, June, 2013. 51 minutes.
*Todd, Marilyn. "The Old Man and the Seashore." EQMM, January, 2016. 23 minutes.
Tolnay, Tom. "Fun and Games at the Carousel Mall." From EQMM, September/October, 2002. 29 minutes.
Van Laerhoven, Bob. "Checkmate in Chimbote." From EQMM, June, 2014. 37 minutes.
*Vandermeeren, Hilde. "The Lighthouse." From EQMM March/April 2016 issue. 27 minutes.
Warren, James Lincoln. "Heat of the Moment." From EQMM, June, 2007. 48 minutes.
Williams, Tim L. "The Last Wrestling Bear in West Kentucky." From EQMM, September/October 2014. Winner of International Thriller award. 38 minutes.
Williams, Tim L. "Where That Morning Sun Goes Down." From EQMM, August, 2013. 37 minutes.
Zeltserman, Dave. "Some People Deserve to Die." From EQMM,August, 2011. 35 minutes.
Zelvin, Elizabeth. "The Green Cross." From EQMM, August, 2010. 24 minutes.

A Predator's Game, available March 30, 2016, Rook's Page Publishing.

Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Henry H. Holmes are all characters in my forthcoming thriller, A Predator's Game, Rook's Page Publishing, March 30, 2016.

Back page blurb of A Predator's Game (advance copy, subject to change).

Manhattan, 1896.

When the author Arthur Conan Doyle meets Nikola Tesla he finds a tall, thin genius with a photographic memory and a keen eye, and recognizes in the eccentric inventor the embodiment of his creation, Sherlock. Together, they team up to take on an "evil Holmes." Multi-murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes has escaped execution and is unleashing a reign of terror upon the metropolis. Set in the late nineteenth century in a world of modern marvels, danger and invention, Conan Doyle and Tesla engage the madman in a deadly game of wits.

Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name,

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Audio Recordings from the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine generously offers a free podcast with well-narrated recent and classic mystery and thriller stories. I present below their 40 selections, arranged in alphabetical order by name of author, of the stories currently available for listening on your computer or for downloading. The stories with an asterisk represent the entries since my last post in July 2015. I will follow this up with a post updating the podcast offerings from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. 

Betancourt, John Gregory. "Pit on the Road to Hell." From AHMM, July/August, 2006. 56 minutes.
Bowen, Rhys. "The Wall." From AHMM, July/August, 2005. 36 minutes.
*Budewitz, Leslie. "The End of the Line." From AHMM, December 2006.
Burns, Rex. "Shadow People." From AHMM, June, 2006. 42 minutes.
Cleland, Jane K. "Killing Time." 57 minutes.
Costa, Shelley. "Strangle Vine." From AHMM, November, 2012. 45 minutes.
*Crenshaw, Bill. "Poor Dumb Mouths." From AHMM, May 1984. 47 minutes.
*Egan, Kevin. "The Heist." From AHMM, July/August 2016. 22 minutes.
Emerson, Kathy Lynn. "The Kenduskeag Killer." From AHMM, April, 2005. 46 minutes.
Fisher, Eve. "Drifts." From AHMM, January/February, 2006. 15 minutes.
Fusilli, Jim. "Digby, Attorney at Law." 27 minutes.
Fusilli, Jim. "The One-Armed Man at the Luncheonette."  From AHMM, June, 2014. 19 minutes.
Gore, Steven. "The God of Right and Wrong." From AHMM, January/February 2010. 37 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "The MacGuffin Theft Case." From AHMM, November, 2005. 37 minutes.
Hurst, Howell. "The First Day of Spring." From AHMM, April, 2009. 25 minutes.
Johnson, Douglas Grant."No Trouble At All." 65 minutes.
*Law, Janice. "Madame Selina." From AHMM, 2010. 29 minutes.
*Lawton, R.T. "Across the Salween." From AHMM, November 2013. 34 minutes.

Lawton, R.T. "Click, Click, Click." 26 minutes.
*Lehan, Con. "Stella by Starlight." From AHMM, October 2016. 29 minutes.
Limón, Martin. "A Crust of Rice." 25 minutes.
Lopresti, Robert. "Snake in the Sweetgrass." From AHMM, December, 2003. 21 minutes.
Ludwigsen, Will. "In Search Of." From AHMM, June, 2008. 12 minutes.
*Lufkin, Martha. "A Lacking for Salt." From AHMM, September 1997. 34 minutes.

Lutz, John. "The Explosives Expert." From AHMM, September, 1967. 17 minutes.
MacRae, Molly. "Fandango by Flashlight," 27 minutes.
Millar, Margaret. "The People Across the Canyon." Reprinted AHMM, November, 2005. 39 minutes.
*Muessig, Chris. "The Hoard." From AHMM, July/August 2014. 45 minutes.
Parker, I.J. "Akitada's First Case." 54 minutes.
Ross, Stephen. "Boundary Bridge." From AHMM, March, 2010. 29 minutes.
Savage, Tom. "The Method in Her Madness." From AHMM, June, 2013. 43 minutes.
Shepphird, John. "Ghost Negligence." From AHMM, July/August, 2012. 33 minutes.
Stevens, B.K. "Adjuncts Anonymous." From AHMM, June, 2009. 80 minutes.
Strong, Marianne Wilski. "Death at Olympia." With introduction. From AHMM, July/August, 2003. 55 minutes.
Vernon, Gigi. "One for the Road." From AHMM, January/February 2006. 32 minutes.
Viets, Elaine. "After the Fall." With a question and answer session. From AHMM, January/February, 2006. 35 minutes.
Wiecek, Mike. "The End of the Train." From AHMM, June, 2007.42 minutes.
Wilson, Jr., L.A. "Jazreen." From AHMM, November, 1997. 53 minutes.
Wishnia, Kenneth. "Between Minke and Mayrev." 52 minutes.
Wishnia, Kenneth. "Burning Twilight." 18 minutes.

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.

Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Martin Hill Ortiz is also the author of A Predator's Game. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at