Friday, June 28, 2019

"When It Comes to Closing in on the Loot, I Still Need Somebody That Can Move Around and Dig It Up"

By Edward Wellen (1919-2011).
First appearance: Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 1974.

Reprints page (HERE).
Novella (64 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Parental caution: Mild profanity and sex.)
(Note: Pages 24 and 25 are duplicated.)

     "You're progamming me?"

The dying words of a crook that seem more like a chapter from a James Joyce novel are just the start of a search by a university professor and a talking box (that's right, a talking box) to unravel the true meaning of his dying declaration, about what really happened forty years earlier during a massacre that left a fatally wounded survivor. As the search proceeds, though, somebody in the shadows is leaving a trail of corpses, making dead sure that 
no one will discover the truth . . .

~ Paul Felder:

  "He saw himself in their eyes as at best a fool and at worst a war criminal . . ."
~ Albert Rabinow (a.k.a. Kraut Schwartz):
  "Death wish, hell. I got a life wish, or why would I be coming back and taking over?"

~ Max Flesher:
  "All at once I got a feeling I'm going to be sorry."
~ Sgt. Mark Nolan:
  ". . . I believe they pinned the rap on the wrong guy . . ."
~ Molly Moldover:
  "I myself never knew the man, but it's terrible to think the killing never ends."
~ Mort Lesser:
  "He said he had a chest so full of jewels and thousand-dollar bills that he had to have somebody sit on it to close it."
~ Mrs. Florence Rabinow:
  "Millions! You mean people believe to this day that old story of Kraut Schwartz's hidden treasure? Please."

~ Mimsy Bogen:
  "She blew in his ear."

~ Jimmy Rath:
  "Everything here works by computer, kid."
~ Matt Muldoon:

  "Fined me 250 bucks and 30 days for contempt. Wasn't too bad. I got a jail expose series 
out of the vile durance."
~ Letha Root:
  "Look like old Kraut crapped out with snake eyes."
~ Johnson Jones (a.k.a. the Splendiferous Spade):
  "Then came an ear-splitting sound that shimmered the air and set Paul's teeth on edge."
~ Macie Devlin:
  ". . . some of the boys snatched me and tried to make me tell them where to find Albert's mythical buried fortune."

Comment: When it comes to character names, our author is unstinting: Harry the Wack Spector, Zigzag Ludwig, Schmulka Mandel, and Zuzu Gluckentern, in addition to those 

Typos: "Lowers"; "The Road to Xandu"; "action or reaciton"; "ingnition key"; "when a he heard".

- Our editor informs us that Edward Paul Wellen was "very much at home in both the mystery and sf fields"; see Wellen's FictionMags Index listing (HERE; then scroll down) for confirma-tion. After starting out in Galaxy in 1952, Wellen went on to publish dozens of stories in crime fiction magazines: Manhunt, Guilty Detective Story Magazine, AHMM (starting in 1959), Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine (from 1964), EQMM (starting in 1971), plus a small number in other publications like Don Pendleton’s The Executioner Mystery Magazine, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct Mystery Magazine, Two-Gun Western, and Zane Grey Western Magazine. For his 

SFF output consult the ISFDb (HERE).
- John Livingston Lowes (not "Lowers") is mentioned; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- This story was faintly echoed about two decades later in Virtuosity (1995; HERE), a Denzel Washington film; nor should we forget that epitome of paranoia television, Person of Interest (2011-16; HERE). Earlier, Fred Saberhagen had developed the basic premise in his SFF novel, Octagon (1981; HERE), but today's author was there first.

- Recently we featured Wellen's "Hijack" (HERE).

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"They Couldn't Suddenly Have a No-crime Wave"

ALL WE CAN say about the next story is that its basic premise is no worse than a lot of science fiction stories we've read and that it is, all things considered, above the average. 
Just a word of caution: While it has the virtue of being unpredictable until the finish, it is almost a hundred pages long . . .

By Edward Wellen (1919-2011).
Illustrations by Bert Tanner (HERE) and Alicia Austin (born 1942; HERE).

First appearance: Venture Science Fiction, May 1970.
Novel version (1971).
Reprints page (HERE).
Novel (95 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Parental caution: Strong profanity and violence.)

     "They were starting on something new, something bigger than ever before."

There's always been a technological arms race between law enforcement and organized crime, with the law usually coming out on top; but what if the crooks were to gain the 
upper hand in both organization and technology—especially if it becomes a matter of 
the survival of the fittest . . .

Major characters (and since it's a novel there are a lot of them):
~ Nick Tallant:
  "Nick wavered. Nothing excused getting stuck in the middle of nowhere when Don Vincenzo Podesta waited."
~ Jimmy Ferro:
  "Jeez, what was the world coming to?"
~ Don Vince Podesta:
  "Harvard? You shoulda went to Yale. You might of picked up something about locks."
~ Tony Chestnut:
  "A little gunplay made them see they better lay off . . ."
~ Rocco Urbano:
  "I can always say I thought that cigarette case in your pocket was a gun."
~ Rose:
  ". . . it wouldn't be for long. Still, she didn't have to know that yet."

~ The Police Commissioner:
  ". . . they tell me it has to do with national security."
~ Knocko Kelly:
  "He turned his face to the wall."
~ Dr. Norman Buglewicz:
  "The air went out of him, fluttering the fringe of his phony mustache."
~ Clara Dellaripa:

  ". . . he felt comfortable with her."
~ Martha Washington:

  "Not the mother of her country but den mother to The Boys."
~ Tommy:

  "He took out a .45 with a silencer on it. He hesitated . . ."
~ Jimmy:
  "I was just making sure it was you."

~ Boyd Sandsmark:
  "Let's see, there's an astrophysicist—I forget his name, it'll come to me—who might know. Boyd Sandsmark, that's the name."
~ Fred Globus:
  ". . . looked down at the gloved hand."
~ The Commission:
  ". . . each of them was looking at the others as though Christ had just said, 'One of you shall betray me'."
~ Hype Creamer:
  "Go back and tell your capo to cut his losses."
~ Packo Ledyard:
  "We want all, man. The whole loaf."
~ Jay Factor:
  "The guy had lived and learned and got away."

Typos: "the was at Cal Tech"; "planned like a flying squirrel"; "were not"; "double-teakes"; "a doted line".

- When this story first appeared about fifty years ago, the Mob was often front page news, nowadays not so much; see the Wikipedia articles about the Mafia (HERE) and its offshoot, the American Mafia (HERE). Just two years earlier the former Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, was gunned down by an assassin mentioned by name in the story ("Did Sirhan Sirhan look any different before and after?"); see Wikipedia (HERE and HERE) about them.

- A character mentions a "tachyon drive to boost the cylinder through space at nearly light-speed"; Wikipedia explains tachyons (HERE) and how they've been used by SFF authors to spice up their stories (HERE), while Winchell Chung tells us just about everything there is 
to know, pro and con, about them (HERE).
- In case you're wondering what "Mustache Petes" are, look no further than (HERE; Wikipedia).

Monday, June 24, 2019

Miscellaneous Monday—Number Thirty-five

"DETECTIVE STORIES," writes one of our authors, "are morality plays dealing with the conflicts between good and evil, cruelty and compassion, justice and injustice." The nearer the law is to administering true justice, of course, the better; but we all know of instances when the law has failed to achieve it in reality. Fiction writers like Raymond Chandler and Clarence E. Mulford ("Clarence who?", you may be wondering) made the most of the altogether too frequent disjunction between law and justice by creating knights-errant who basically would close the gap on their own, despite their own misgivings and often without the approval of the authorities. "Vigilantes!" some would say, and admittedly it's frequently hard to tell the difference between these self-appointed executors of justice and lawless vigilantes.
   Before we get to Chandler and Mulford, however, we deal with Dorothy L. Sayers who, Stephen Hahn tells us, had an "apparent desire to create convincingly probable represen-tations of the social and physical world, by describing these environments in great detail, [which desire] did not obscure for Sayers the importance of the fact that these worlds are fictive." As for plotting, Sayers wrote: "You don't 'get' the Plot—you make that." Above all, says Hahn, Dorothy Sayers, a rationalist in most things including religion, possessed "the imaginative range of a writer who . . . has the power to convince us that we see and feel what we have only read."
   "It was a time of disillusionment, and the public wanted heroes," writes Mary Wertheim. "For readers of detective fiction, Philip Marlowe helped fill the void." As for Raymond Chandler's commitment to the mystery genre, Wertheim asserts that "Chandler's work is 
too complex to fit neatly into the genre of hard-boiled detective fiction. He gave his readers something extra because he believed that the detective story was not intrinsically inferior to other literary forms." Marlowe appeals to the crime fiction public nearly eighty years after his debut because he "still pursues what the reader recognizes as the best quality of justice the client can expect in a universe of murky distinctions."
  John le Carré's characters also seem to inhabit "a universe of murky distinctions," one that gets progressively murkier from one book to the next. There is, writes William Walling, a "disturbing pervasiveness of deception in the typical le Carré plot," and "a bleak sophistica-tion about betrayal." Moreover, starting with his first book and threading its way throughout le Carré's mystery and spy fiction is the depiction of a deplorable division "in the English social system between genuine 'quality' (including, to be sure, moral distinction) and the unearned assumptions of class superiority," one "which animates most of the subsequent novels, with varying degrees of subtlety." [Note: Beware of plot SPOILERS.]
   It's a classic (but purely imaginary) image formulated in fiction over a century ago and echoed by movies and TV: the cowboy who is forced by circumstance—either because there is no local law enforcement, or what purports to be the law is corrupt, or both—to take things into his own hands to see that justice is done. According to Francis M. Nevins, it took the imaginings of "a low-ranking municipal paper-pusher with bifocals" to fix in the reading public's mind the picture of "the open range, among the great cattle herds, in the flimsy shantytowns, roaming across a vast imagined West whose geographic center was a Texas ranch called the Bar-20 and whose human center was a red-thatched, gimp-legged, liquor-swilling, tobacco-spitting young puncher called Hopalong Cassidy," a far cry from the Hoppy you might know from TV and films. The paper-pusher here was Clarence Edward Mulford, civil service clerk, "a competent if undistinguished writer" whose plots "sprawl every which way over the terrain," whose "skills at drawing character and relationship were weak," whose nerve-grating "notions of cowboy and ethnic dialect" quickly wear thin, but whose "grasp of detail and breadth of vision" made him "one of the most remarkable Western writers ever." [Note: Plot SPOILERS for Hopalong Cassidy.]

"'Where Do Plots Come From?': Dorothy L. Sayers on Literary Invention."
By Stephen Hahn.
First appearance: Columbia Library Columns, February 1988.
Essay (11 pages).

Online at (HERE).
   Related: Wikipedia (HERE and HERE).

~ ~ ~

"Philip Marlowe, Knight in Blue Serge."
By Mary Wertheim.
First appearance: Columbia Library Columns, February 1988.
Essay (10 pages).

Online at (HERE).
   Related: Wikipedia (HERE and HERE).

~ ~ ~

"John le Carré: The Doubleness of Class."
By William Walling.
First appearance: Columbia Library Columns, February 1988.
Essay (10 pages).

Online at (HERE).
   Related: Wikipedia (HERE).

~ ~ ~

"Hopalong Cassidy: Knight of the Frontier."
By Francis M. Nevins, Jr. (born 1943; RambleHouse mini-bio 
HERE and Goodreads entry HERE).
First appearance: Columbia Library Columns, February 1987.
Essay (12 pages).

Online at (HERE).
   Related: Wikipedia (HERE and HERE).


Friday, June 21, 2019

"The Cops Are Looking for Me All Through Time"

"A Thief in Time."
By Robert Sheckley (1928-2005).
Illustrations by [Charles] Beck (HERE).

First appearance: Galaxy, July 1954.
Reprints page (HERE).
Novelette (26 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     "Imagine a famous guy like this being a crook."

As far back as he can remember, a mild-mannered college professor has never done anything bad enough to warrant being arrested, never mind being executed, so why is it that no matter where—or when—he goes, people are trying to kill him?

~ Thomas Eldridge:

  "You know, all I ever really wanted was a warm drowsy country, books, congenial neighbors, and the love of a good—"
~ Viglin:
  "It worked out perfectly for me—until now."
~ Captain of Police:
  "We're pretty rough on time theft. Temporal offense."
~ The patriarch:
  "You are guilty of sabotage and murder."
~ The jailor:
  "We have no lawyers here. Here we have justice."
~ Morgel:
  "Hanging is too good for him. He should be drawn, quartered, burned and scattered to the wind."
~ Becker:
  "I know how you feel, Morgel, but he will pay for his crimes on the gallows."

- It's while Eldridge is reading a book that we're told: "The author began with the classic paradox of Achilles and the tortoise"; see (HERE; Wikipedia) and, at greater length, (HERE; Platonic Realms) for Zeno's Paradox.
- Our list of crime-related time travel stories seems to get longer every time we turn around, the latest being Anthony Boucher's "Elsewhen" (HERE) .

- It amazes us that the last time we encountered Robert Sheckley was almost three years ago, with his "Killer's Masquerade" (HERE) and the classic "Seventh Victim" (HERE); we first fea-tured his technoproleptic "Watchbird" (HERE).

The bottom line:

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

"It Had Details of a Considerable and Baffling Interest"

EDITOR ELLERY QUEEN asserts in his introduction to the following story that it deals with "the one and only 'tec topic that is, with a capital letter, Unmentionable—especially in the sanctum sanctorum of EQMM . . ."

"The Episode of the Sinister Inventor."
(Note: Also sometimes referred to as "The Episode 
of the Sinister Invention.")
By C. Daly King (1895-1963).
First appearance: Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, 
December 1946.
Reprinted in EQMM (Australia), August 1948.
Collected in The Complete Curious Mr. Tarrant (2003).
Short story (14 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     "The matter has been merely the impersonal one of drawing the required deductions and following them to their only logical conclusion."

A Sherlock Holmes rival in more ways than one . . .

~ Jerry:

  "I am thus in no mood to deal with Tarrant punctiliously and I propose to inform the public of his somewhat toplofty attitude in the matter of the inventor's sinister story."
~ Josephine Studd:
  "She was shot through the stomach and left to die alone in an empty house."
~ James Templeton Rowrer:
  "It was in his house that the woman was killed . . ."
~ Inspector Peake:
  ". . . it appears that we are entirely unable to break down his alibi . . ."

~ Trevis Tarrant:
  "I suppose there is a large excavation to one side of the Rowrer house?"

- We have dealt with Charles Daly King, Ph.D., several times before (HERE, HERE, and HERE); also consult Mystery*File (HERE), Vintage Pop Fictions (HERE), and Michael Grost's Guide (HERE), the last of which we quote in relation to today's story:

   ". . . the main interest here is some of Tarrant's use of deductive reasoning 
. . . [which shows him] functioning as an armchair detective . . . The hall 
where the murder takes place . . . [is] made the center of logical deduction."

The bottom line:
   "Good afternoon. I'm Sherlock Holmes, this is my friend and colleague, Dr. Watson. You may speak freely in front of him, as he rarely understands a word."

   — Holmes

Monday, June 17, 2019

"You Have a Wild Talent, and That's Your Specialty"

"Wild Talents, Inc."
By Milton Lesser (1928-2008).
First appearance: Science Fiction Quarterly, August 1952.

Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (10 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Text is faded.)
(Parental caution: Mild profanity.)

     "If something moves—if anything moves that shouldn't—you'll be dead."

Even with a ten-million-dollar lining a trap is still a trap . . .

Comment: When our author uses the word teleportation he seems to mean a more special-ized process called telekinesis (a.k.a. psychokinesis), a so-called psychic power that, like Amos's talent, doesn't necessarily use a machine.

Major characters:
~ Amos Terwilliger:
  "I teleport. Teleport. T-e-l-e-p-o-r-t."
~ Jane:
  "You'd be surprised how many phoney wild talents there are."
~ Christopher Cuff:
  ". . . was a legend in the twenty-first century solar system; Terwilliger never heard of anyone who had seen him."

Typos: "lending library calliber"; "existance"; "you're a specialists"; "applies to teleport-aiton"; "specialziation"; "reventing".

- For more about teleportation (the kind requiring a machine) see Wikipedia (HERE), Discover Magazine Online (HERE), the "Teleportation Tropes" links page at TV Tropes (HERE), and Winchell Chung's Atomic Rockets page on matter transmitters (HERE); compare all of that 
with TV Tropes's "Mind Over Matter" page (HERE).
- One of our characters says the Corporation "trained me on Jupiter, with Jupiter's gravity," which is highly unlikely; go to Wikipedia (HERE) and (HERE) to find out about the giant planet in fact and fiction. Other places in the Solar System that are mentioned in the story: Ceres (Wikipedia: HERE and HERE); Mars (Wikipedia: HERE and HERE); Venus (Wikipedia: HERE and HERE); Ganymede (Wikipedia: HERE and HERE); and Iapetus (Wikipedia: HERE and HERE).
- This story is not to be confused with one by Robert Sheckley with the same title (HERE).
- Well over a year ago we featured a Milton Lesser story, "I'm Holding a Gun on You" (HERE), published under his Darius John Granger alias; when you go there, pay attention to the Resources links.

The bottom line:

Friday, June 14, 2019

"We Gotta Look for a Southpaw"

"The Adventure of the Mouse's Blood: An Original Radio Detective Drama."
By Ellery Queen (1905-71; 1905-82).
First appearance on radio: The Adventures of Ellery Queen, May 26, 1940 on CBS; rebroadcast August 5, 1943 on NBC.
First appearance in print: Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, September 1942.

Radio play (15 pages).
Online at (HERE).

The Characters
Ellery Queen . . . the detective
Nikki Porter . . . his secretary
Inspector Queen . . . his father
Sergeant Velie . . . of Inspector Queen's staff
Sam Buckley . . . a sports commentator
Johnnie Kilgore . . . heavyweight contender
Louie . . . his manager
Memphis Slats Mayo . . . baseball pitcher
Peewee Robbin . . . famous jockey
Dotty Dale . . . famous woman-swimmer
and Fight Fans — Baseball Crowd — Racing Fans — Detectives, etc.


The Garden — The Stadium — The Park — and A Private House in Flatbush

     "I wish somebody'd leave prints some time . . ."

A two-bit crook (he "sees all, hears all, says nuttin'—fer a price!") has the goods on a number of sports figures and is running a lucrative blackmailing operation—until, no surprise here, somebody decides to cancel all of his future appointments with a very sharp letter-opener ...

Comment: Trained radio actors might be able to handle dialect dialogue effectively on the air but it tends to fall flat on the printed page.

- Nikki refers to Ellery as "the original Argus"; see Wikipedia (HERE) for the original original Argus.
- Other references in Wikipedia to actual sports figures mentioned in the play: Helen Wills (HERE); Sonja Henie (HERE), who made it big in the movies; and Jack Dempsey (HERE).
- Another Ellery Queen play involving the fight game, this one written for TV, is "The Adventure of the Sunday Punch" from the 1975-76 series (HERE; IMDb), with the video 
(HERE)—for the moment, anyway; as for a no-hitter in baseball, see Wikipedia (HERE), especially the part about "Superstitions."

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

"This Was to Be an Impossible Crime, One That Could Never Conceivably Be Proved on Him or on Any Innocent"

TODAY'S STORY definitely isn't a whodunit (we spend quite a lot of time overhearing the killer's thoughts), although it would be a dilly of a locked room problem for any supersleuth to try to solve; it is, rather, a fine example of "how in the world do we catch 'em?" when they have the advantages our killer enjoys . . .

By Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White, 1911-68).
Illustrations by [Frank] Kramer (1905-93; HERE).
First appearance: Astounding, January 1943.

Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (16 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     "He felt warm blood trickling down his back. Involuntarily he released his grip . . ."

Some folks have entirely too much time on their hands . . .

~ Harrison Partridge:
  "My dear Agatha, I have invented the world's first successful time machine."
~ Agatha Partridge:
  "I suppose this will run the electric bill up even higher."
~ Faith Preston:
  "Simon and I are going to be married next month."
~ Stanley Harrison:
  "Bracket tells me you've something for me."
~ Simon Ash:

  "Bracket stared at him—stared at his sleep-red eyes, his blood-red hands, and beyond 
him at what sat at the desk."
~ Bracket:
  "Mr. Ash, sir. What have you done?"
~ Lieutenant Jackson:
  "You want a freer investigator, who won't be hampered by such considerations as the official viewpoint, or even the facts of the case. Well, it's your privilege."
~ Fergus O'Breen:
  "It's the perfect and only possible solution to a case."
~ Maureen O'Breen:
  "But you can't try to sell the police on that."

Typos: "carassed it"; "nothing more to it that that"; "show me how to unlocked this one".
- Anthony Boucher was equally at home with SFF (ISFDb HERE) and crime fiction ("The Girl Who Married a Monster" HERE), which explains a story like "Elsewhen."
- We're told that one character "felt like Harun-al-Rashid, and liked the glow of the feeling"; see "One Thousand and One Nights" (Wikipedia HERE), in which al-Rashid plays a part, and (Wikipedia HERE and HERE) for his history and influence on popular culture.
- The murderer fantasizes about having "a Javert, a Porfir, a Maigret on his trail": Javert (HERE) from Les Misérables, Porfir (HERE and scroll down) from Crime and Punishment, 
and Maigret (HERE), all of them very determined policemen.
- The Thrilling Detective Website (HERE) tells us that Boucher was "one of the first to write sci-fi/mystery cross-overs," and that "many of Fergus [O'Breen's] cases actually involve fantastic or science-fictional problems"; see the ISFDb (HERE) for the all-too-brief list of O'Breen's short stories and novelettes.

The bottom line:

Monday, June 10, 2019

Miscellaneous Monday—Number Thirty-four

HERE WE HAVE compact accounts of three writers (four, really) who, while all of them labored in the field of mystery-crime fiction, superficially bear little resemblance to each 
other . . .

Columbia Library Columns.
First appearance: February 1986.
Full issue online at (HERE).

* * *

   "He had the most wretched life of any American writer since Poe, and his funeral was attended by exactly five people."

"First You Dream, Then You Die."
By Francis M. Nevins (born 1943; RambleHouse 

mini-bio HERE and Goodreads entry HERE).
Essay (10 pages).

Online at (HERE).

Related: A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection (HERE) - Los Angeles Times book review (1988; HERE).

* * *

   "Surely the degree of success achieved by Holmes and his support team in tales such as these is not sufficient to validate Sherlock's reputation as a great detective; it is not what Holmes and Watson actually do that accounts for their enduring popularity. There are other factors . . ."

"Sherlock Holmes: The Detective As Hero."
By Mary Wertheim.
Essay (13 pages).

Online at (HERE).

Related: A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection (HERE) - Wikipedia (HERE).

Typos: Picture caption: "Sydney", "Moriarity", "Reichbach"; "occuring"; "Professor Moriarity".

* * *

   " . . . the combination of scruples and style, of playing too fair and saying too much . . ."

"Whatever Happened to Ellery Queen?"
By Anthony J. Mazzella.
Essay (10 pages).

Online at (HERE).

Related: A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection (HERE) - Wikipedia (HERE).

Typo: "sadily".

Friday, June 7, 2019

"So You're Suggesting That the Murder Was Really a 'Crime of Passion'?"

"Murder in Triplicate."
By Charles Sheffield (1935-2002).
Illustration by Richard Olsen (HERE).
First appearance: Amazing Stories, August 1978.

Novelette (3 separate stories, 26 total pages).
Online at (HERE).

     "They [these three stories] are an attempt to break a tradition in writing mystery stories, by combining certain elements of science fiction with the usual who-dun-it. In each story, the resolution depends on simple scientific facts or theories, readily available to the reader. Although suggesting the  who-dun-it form, they are more concerned with how than who or why."

Definitely not whodunits, but the solutions are satisfyingly clever.

   "She was poisoned, with some kind of gas from a bouquet that she was holding."

Lola Carmez, a world-renowned opera soprano, has died on stage during a performance and Don Shackley, a friend and client of the narrator, becomes the prime suspect; but there are others who wouldn't mind seeing her out of the way . . .

Typos: "her final area"; "the last part of the area"; "and octave lover"; "do you thing".

- The trill of the title is discussed in detail on Wikipedia (HERE), most particularly (HERE).

   "Like droplets of acid, envy had eaten slowly into the soul of John Laker. On the day that the shell of his soul was completely eroded he killed Alan Gifford; and on that day the time of true suffering began."

That Chinese philosopher nailed it when he said, "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves" . . .

- Our author gets support for his ideas about tulips from Wikipedia (HERE).
- It certainly can be said of John Laker that "He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made."

   "We're in an unusual position—we know who did it, but we have no motive and no real evidence. If you can turn something up you'll save us an enormous hassle."

When Luther Carter's affluent cranium has been crushed ("In the library. With a blunt instrument"), the case falls into John Wilson's ambit; however, Wilson's not overjoyed 
at dealing with Carter's murder:

   "I thought about the information we had received from Police Chief Winters and felt a touch of irritation. I was raised on detective stories and the one sort that I couldn't stand was the English stately home murder mystery. Assort-ment of guests, bedroom hopping, and a story full of plans of the house and timetables of who was where when. I could neither read nor solve them. I had the horrible suspicion that Luther Carter's murder would fit that pattern."

Despite his reluctance, though, it would be the contents of the victim's library, a misun-
derstood conversation, and a broken string that will put a weary Wilson on the trail of 
the killer . . .

Typos: "when you arrives"; "insist om the best".

- By the time you've finished the story, you'll see how Humpty Dumpty (Wikipedia HERE) figures into the plot.
- The intractable "four-color problem" (technically the "four-color theorem"; Wikipedia HERE) seemed uprovable until computers came along.
- The painstaking police search for "a piece of paper" puts us in mind of a famous EAP story discussed (with SPOILERS) on Wikipedia (HERE) and featured (HERE).
- Murder in the Calais Coach (1934) gets a mention; see Wikipedia (HERE; SPOILERS—unless you skip the plot summary).
- The Senator says, "You saw what happened to Wilbur Mills"; see Wikipedia (HERE) about that Arkansas traveler.
- And Obey Russell says, "I know now I'll never be a Rampal," a reference to this gentleman (Wikipedia HERE).
- Another story with a musical background is Lawrence Treat's "Cop with an Ear," featured (HERE).

More resources:
- If you go to these websites then you'll know just about all the Web has to offer about the late Charles A. Sheffield: Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), the ISFDb (HERE), and a recent list of his available stories on the Free Speculative Fiction Online page (HERE).