ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS “Home for the Holidays.” Short story. PI Andy Hayes. First published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January-February 2020.

   Andy Hayes’ base of operations as a PI is Columbus OH, which may be a first. He’s best known, however, as a former quarterback for the Ohio State football team, and in particular for messing up on a crucial play in a game for the national championship. He’s already appeared in six novels, but this seems to be his first case that’s been told in the form of a short story.

   The story takes place just before Christmas, hence the title, but besides an office party he goes to at the end with a comely companion he meets along the way, that’s the extent of the holiday trappings. He’s hired by the wife of a man who’s gone missing to find out why. The man turns out to be an auditor for a huge firm that manages the state’s retirement fund. Somebody’s been messing with the books? You the reader wonder.

   And you the reader would be correct. There’s little more to the story than that. It’s capably told, but it’s as plain (but not bland) as vanilla pudding. So’s Columbus for that matter, unless you live there, in which case it’s a fine town in which nothing worse ever happens than someone making off with the state employee’s retirement fund. (Notice, though, that I didn’t say who.)

   There’s potential here, but maybe the short form doesn’t show Andy Hayes off to best advantage. Here below is a list of his longer adventures. I may check out the first one sometime soon.


      The Andy Hayes series –

Fourth Down and Out. Swallow Press, 2014.
Slow Burn. Swallow Press, 2015.
Capitol Punishment. Swallow Press, 2016.
The Hunt. Swallow Press, 2017.
The Third Brother. Swallow Press, 2018.
Fatal Judgment. Swallow Press, 2019.
An Empty Grave. Forthcoming, Spring 2021.