"Invitation to a Murder"

After 30+ years without ever selling a story to a textbook, suddenly (and simultaneously, and serendipitously) two different publishers approached me in 2000 and bought reprint rights to two of my stories.

Mysterious Circumstances from Perfection Learning is for middle-school students. The 144-page book is divided into four sections, called "clusters." My story — which you can read here — is one of four in the final cluster, "Thinking on Your Own," which emphasizes the "Thinking Skill: Synthesizing." (The other three stories in the cluster are Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the Slaughter," Lesley Grant-Adamson's "This Way Nobody Gets the Blame," and William Brittain's "The Man Who Read John Dickson Carr.")

The first three clusters, in case you're wondering, are "What Makes a Mystery?" (emphasizing Defining), "Whodunit?" (emphasizing Investigating), and "How Do You Solve a Mystery?" (emphasizing Logical Thinking).

Most times this story's been reprinted, the publishers have turned the titular invitation into an illustration. This was the only time (so far!) that the envelope mentioned in the very first line of the story was also illustrated. You can see it below left. (In an odd coincidence, the stamp depicts General Douglas A. MacArthur — and, at the time I wrote the story in 1968, I was a junior at General Douglas A. MacArthur High School in Levittown, NY!)

My other Y2K textbook sale was to AMSCO School Publications' Detectives, for older readers.

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