“The Affair of the Forty-Sixth Birthday” — Amy Myers

Amy Myers is the author of several crime novels, such as Tom Wasp and the Murdered Stunner and Murder in the Mist, and the story collection Murder, ’Orrible Murder! In addition to her crime fiction, she has also published several historical novels under the name Harriet Hudson. Myers’s short fiction has recently appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and The Mammoth Book of Dickensian Whodunnits. This story first appeared in the same venue as many of the original Holmes stories—The Strand Magazine—which is still publishing, albeit in substantially different form and after a fifty-year hiatus.

Our next story is called “The Affair of the 46th Birthday,” so you’re probably imagining that this is going to be a tale of celebration and joy. After all, who doesn’t like birthdays? You get together with loved ones and sing songs, receive gifts, and eat cake. Well, okay, maybe it’s not true that everyone loves birthdays. Little children do, for sure, at that age when each successive birthday means you get a little bit taller and a little bit stronger, and get taken a little more seriously. Teenagers and college students are also known to be fond of birthdays, when you can look forward to more rights and freedoms. But after that birthdays quickly lose their luster, and by the time you’re forty-five, most people would probably prefer for their next birthday to remain forever on the horizon. If you’re someone who’s not looking forward to your next birthday, this story may help put things in perspective. They say that getting old is better than the alternative. This is a story about some highly motivated people who would very much like to see our birthday boy experience the alternative. You may be dreading your next birthday, but probably not like this.