"The Psychic Investigator," by Janice Law, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, December
I believe in full disclosure, which in the case of this blog means that you deserve to know if I might have some reason to favor a story other than its quality.
In this case it is a triple threat. Not only is Janice Law a friend of mine, and a fellow blogger at SleuthSayers, but I can also claim a tiny bit of credit for this story existing at all. I was the one who suggested to Janice that she do something she had never done before: write more than one story about a character. I think this is the fourth in this series, although I might be off.
And what a wonderful character she is. Madame Selina is a spiritualist in New York City in the years after the Civil War, when quite a number of people long to speak to their dead loved ones. Madame is assisted by Aurelius, the former emperor of Rome who allegedly speaks to her in trances, and by Nip Tompkins, formerly of the orphan's home, who assists with clouds of smoke and other special effects when the emperor proves unreliable.
In this adventure, a psychic investigator has arrive din the Big Apple and is making good money by revealing the tricks used by so-called mediums. Madame Selina, no shrinking violet, applies the challenge direct, publishing an open letter thanking the professor on behalf of the true psychics for revealing their fraudulent competition. She knows this will bring the man to her parlor. Now she needs young Nip to find a weakness she can use...
"The mind needs little helps," explains Madame Selina. And by hook or by crook she will provide them, and catch the bad guy in the process.