Crime fiction has a certain magnetism that draws writers of varied experiences and interests, who introduce readers to unexpected and perhaps unexplored corners of the world. Three writers new to the genre have done just that in Wolfsbane: Best New England Crime Stories 2023.
Two of the three writers are social workers, so they bring to their work an overabundance of experience with human beings at their most intense, perhaps not at their worst but possibly at their most extreme.
In Michael Ditchfield's "Undercover in Alcatraz," a young man soon after his marriage is approached by two federal agents who persuade him to undertake a short stint as a criminal in Alcatraz. The job is simple enough—just gather certain information—and the pay is good. But like all things in life, there's a lot more to the proposal than going undercover in a prison.
In "The Snitch" by Sean Harding, we remain on the outside but life isn't much better. An ever-patient informant waits for his handler to pay him, and to show up on time. He has little status in his life, no prospects for anything better, and a meager network through which to earn his pay. But he makes friends easily with a young girl, and we learn what kind of character is hidden within a man who is held in contempt by most people on both sides of the line.
Christine H. Chen brings a different perspective from her multicultural background. After numerous short stories in diverse publications, Chen turned her skills to mysteries, and managed to serve up a gem. In her story "Lost and Found" the generations cross history and cultures before they can meet. Only then can an act against the victim be understood.
These are only three of the twenty-one stories in the forthcoming Wolfsbane, the third anthology from Crime Spell Books in the ongoing series to highlight New England writers. We are proud to publish the first short stories by Michael Ditchfield and Sean Harding, and the first crime story by Christine H. Chen.