The Tango Queen

February 24th, 2012 18:09 by Albert Tucher

Every year since 2006 I have attended the Crimebake conference in Dedham, Massachusetts. The Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America always join forces to produce an enjoyable conference that is of great value to writers.

I always try to enter the short story contest held in memory of the author Al Blanchard, but that requires some scrambling on my part. Writers who are not New England residents are required to use a New England setting in their story entries. The problem is, my knowledge of most of New England is at the "Well, I drove through it" level. One of the few places I know a bit better is the Harvard campus. Over the years I have visited a friend there several times. I decided that a story set in the past would camouflage the gaps in my expertise. Maybe a post-WWII time frame?

I googled "Harvard 1947" and found an article from the Harvard Crimson about Harvardevens. In 1946 the Army was eager to downsize, while Harvard urgently needed housing for the returning veterans who were enrolling in large numbers. The Army leased Fort Devens in nearby Shirley to the University. According to the article,the manager of the new facility refused to grant law enforcement authority to the local police, but he couldn't get the FBI interested in what was still Federal property. Much went intriguingly unstated about the manager's reasoning, but he did say that he hoped residents of Harvardevens would behave themselves.

And there was my story. Obviously, for my purposes, residents would not behave themselves.

In 1948, with the Cold War rapidly intensifying, the Army took Fort Devens back. As we know, the downsized military didn't last long.

BTW, the story won an honorable mention. It now appears in the excellent online magazine Mysterical-e.

The Tango Queen