Skip to main content


Blue Rock

As the dinghy merged with the horizon, Devers raised his terrible high voice.

“Bricks, sir?”

I reminded myself that Devers was a novice and should be forgiven for assuming that I had time for leisure. Unlike Bertram, the first assistant keeper, I did not have to check the fog signal, clean the beehive lens, trim the lantern wicks, and scrub the walls, floors, windows, balconies, and railings, inside and outside. Unlike the second assistant, Carter, I did not have to polish the brasswork—a ceaseless operation, since nearly every fixture in Blue Rock Lighthouse was made of brass, which tarnished rapidly in the sea mist. And unlike Devers himself, the third assistant keeper, I did not have to assist the first two assistants. All that was left to me was the single remaining job, which encompassed all the others and was the very reason for the lighthouse’s existence: I had to save the lives of any mariners unfortunate enough to pass within a league of Blue Rock.

Illustration by Chloe Scheffe

An Invocation of the Big-Eared Runt

The first time he appeared to Pablo was on the bus during the nine-thirty tour. It happened during a pause in the narration while they rode from the restaurant that had belonged to Emilia Basil (the dismemberer) to the building where Yiya Murano (the poisoner) had lived. 

Photograph by Adam Watkins

Amateur Hour: Social Justice

On August 5, 2016, Tricia Griffith joined Jack Hitt onstage at the Institute Library in New Haven, Connecticut, as part of the ongoing series “Amateur Hour,” in which various tinkerers, zealots, and collectors discuss their obsessions. Griffith operates the online forum Websleuths, which is dedicated to crowdsourcing solutions to baffling crimes, including in-depth examinations of cold cases and the uncovering of key evidence in ongoing investigations. The conversation that follows has been edited for brevity and meaning.

By Juan Carlos

Prince of Peace

San Salvador’s upstart mayor, Nayib Bukele, has promised a new way forward for a city besieged by decades of violence. His biggest obstacle, however, may not be the city’s gangs, but the city’s idea of itself.

Ed Harris (as Dr. Bill Perch) and Amy Madigan (as Susan Perch) in The Jacksonian, which premiered in February 2012, at the Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, directed by Robert Falls. (All photographs by Michael Lamont)

The Jacksonian [private]

CHARACTERS (In order of appearance) BILL PERCH, a dentist and motel resident  ROSY PERCH, daughter of Bill and Susan Perch  EVA WHITE, a waitress and motel maid FRED WEBER, a motel bartender SUSAN PERCH, wife of Bill Perch, mother o [...]

Police tape, marked DANGEROUS, cordons off a murder scene in Juárez, Mexico.

Call of the Narcocorrido

In the PM newsroom, two men listen to the strains of a narcocorrido drifting from a police scanner. The vague shrill discord of accordions and a brass band echoes in the glass office until a burst of distortion shatters the ill-begotten melody and imposes a staticky silence. They know in the expanding quiet that someone will die tonight.

Every five days the staff of a makeshift asylum at the edge of Juárez wash the inmates’ bedding and spread it to dry on bushes. Many of the residents of “the crazy place” have been driven mad by drug use and the anguish of loved ones lost to the drug war (Julián Cardona).

The Crazy Place

In Juárez, people vanish. They leave a bar with the authorities and are never seen again. They leave their homes on an errand and never return. They go to a meeting and never come back. They are waiting at a bus stop and never arrive at their assumed destination. No one really knows how many people vanish. It is not safe to ask, and it is not wise to place a call to the authorities.

<i>The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective</i>, by Kate Summerscale. Walker, April 2008. $24.95

A Murder Most Mysterious

In 1827, Thomas de Quincey suggested that murder was becoming a new medium for the artist: “People begin to see,” he wrote, “that something more goes into the composition of a fine murder than two blockheads to kill and be killed, a knife, a purse, and a dark lane. Design, gentlemen, grouping, light and shade, poetry, sentiment, are now deemed indispensable in attempts of this nature.” In spite of its irony, de Quincey’s essay, “Murder Considered as a Fine Art,” offers a certain truth about the age of Victoria: crime—both as an art in itself and as the subject of the art of fiction—was achieving a new complexity.