They said it would be a routine prisoner transfer. Sure, the prisoner was a notorious cannibal and contortionist who’d escaped confinement on several previous occasions, but with the latest in shackle technology enclosing his wrists and ankles, and a titanium cage encasing his filed-to-a-point teeth, what could go wrong? “He won’t be any more trouble than your average, spoiled first-class passenger,” joked your supervisor at the U.S. Marshal Service.
Those words echo in your panicked brain now that you find yourself wearing the shackles and the face mask, with the cannibal’s crazed crew of accomplices piloting the jumbo jet toward the desert island where they plan to breed you and your fellow passengers like livestock. Every second in the air is sheer torture—not unlike the wait for Booklist‘s Mystery Month. But while you ponder a fate worse than death, we offer a humorous selection, culled from the extensive Mystery Month archive, to lift your spirits.
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I’m planning a family reunion. I anticipate nearly 100 guests spanning 4 generations and have booked a large block of rooms at a small, mountain resort. Given everyone’s unique and special needs, however, this task has become a logistical nightmare. Some people want to pay in advance and some want to pay later. Others demand a vegan option at the breakfast buffet. It has fallen to me to arrange airport transportation and, frankly, it’s impossible to keep track of everyone’s comings and goings. I want to turn it over to a professional event planner but my husband says that, since I volunteered, I’m stuck. I want help! Who is right?
—I Don’t Know in Idaho
Dear I Don’t Know,
The sunlight in the mountains has a way of being bright without showing you anything at all, and navigating the needs of a crowd that large is like playing lion tamer at a Shriner’s Convention. The question is, can some hired hand do a better job than a tailor’s dummy, or are you better off sticking it through to the end even though you may end this little vacation with little more than your coat, your hat, and a clipboard? Any question that can be answered with a question, though, is hardly worth asking. Keeping track of these characters you call family is your biggest challenge—but remember, a flatfoot won’t file a report until your beloved Aunt Mimi has been missing for at least 24 hours. And don’t even ring the station unless you want to know who Aunt Mimi really is and what she’s been doing—which, even if you made her up, can be hard to remember.
—The Big Sleep