Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I'm A Fool by Sherwood Anderson

In my previous post I presented links to the stories collected in The Golden Argosy, a 1955 short story compendium. I'd like to present one of these in a better format.

I'm A Fool by Sherwood Anderson (1922) is public domain. The presentation of public domain material on the internet often comes from scanned material and includes dozens of optical character recognition errors (termed scannos). Other available presentations are in the awkward format of Google Books. So I went through a copy of I'm A Fool, found and fixed a few errors and I am presenting it below in a format that can be copied and reviewed at leisure.

I'm A Fool is an excellent short story, one of the all-time best. Furthermore, I'm a sucker for characters who speak in fractured but lyrical poetry. William Faulkner declared:  I think, next to "Heart of Darkness" by Conrad that the first story [in Anderson's collection], "I'm a Fool," is the best short story I ever read. To think that a man as old as Anderson could have retained so keenly a boy's perception of a world grand and beautiful and passionate and sad in the soft intimacy of young flesh and the despair of unfulfillment! It's grand, I think. Faulkner letter to Ben Wasson, 1924.

I'm A Fool

by Sherwood Anderson

 It was a hard jolt for me, one of the most bitterest I ever had to face. And it all came about through my own foolishness too. Even yet sometimes, when I think of it, I want to cry or swear or kick myself. Perhaps, even now, after all this time, there will be a kind of satisfaction in making myself look cheap by telling of it.

 It began at three o'clock one October afternoon as I sat in the grandstand at the fall trotting and pacing meet at Sandusky, Ohio.

 To tell the truth, I felt a little foolish that I should be sitting in the grandstand at all. During the summer before I had left my home town with Harry Whitehead and, with a n----- named Burt, had taken a job as swipe with one of the two horses Harry was campaigning through the fall race meets that year. Mother cried and my sister Mildred, who wanted to get a job as a school teacher in our town that fall, stormed and scolded about the house all during the week before I left. They both thought it something disgraceful that one of our family should take a place as a swipe with race horses. I've an idea Mildred thought my taking the place would stand in the way of her getting the job she'd been working so long for.

 But after all I had to work, and there was no other work to be got. A big lumbering fellow of nineteen couldn't just hang around the house and I had got too big to mow people's lawns and sell newspapers. Little chaps who could get next to people's sympathies by their sizes were always getting jobs away from me. There was one fellow who kept saying to everyone who wanted a lawn mowed or a cistern cleaned, that he was saving money to work his way through college, and I used to lay awake nights thinking up ways to injure him without being found out. I kept thinking of wagons running over him and bricks falling on his head as he walked along the street. But never mind him.

 I got the place with Harry and I liked Burt fine. We got along splendid together. He was a big n----- with a lazy sprawling body and soft, kind eyes, and when it came to a fight he could hit like Jack Johnson. He had Bucephalus, a big black pacing stallion that could do 2.09 or 2.10, if he had to, and I had a little gelding named Doctor Fritz that never lost a race all fall when Harry wanted him to win.

 We set out from home late in July in a box car with the two horses and after that, until late November, we kept moving along to the race meets and the fairs. It was a peachy time for me, I'll say that. Sometimes now I think that boys who are raised regular in houses, and never have a fine n----- like Burt for best friend, and go to high schools and college, and never steal anything, or get drunk a little, or learn to swear from fellows who know how, or come walking up in front of a grandstand in their shirt sleeves and with dirty horsey pants on when the races are going on and the grandstand is full of people all dressed up—what's the use of talking about it? Such fellows don't know nothing at all. They've never had no opportunity.

 But I did. Burt taught me how to rub down a horse and put the bandages on after a race and steam a horse out and a lot of valuable things for any man to know. He could wrap a bandage on a horse's leg so smooth that if it had been the same color you would think it was his skin, and I guess he'd have been a big driver too and got to the top like Murphy and Walter Cox and the others if he hadn't been black.

 Gee whizz, it was fun. You got to a county seat town, maybe say on a Saturday or Sunday, and the fair began the next Tuesday and lasted until Friday afternoon. Doctor Fritz would be, say in the 2.25 trot on Tuesday afternoon and on Thursday afternoon.

 Bucephalus would knock 'em cold in the "free-for-all" pace. It left you a lot of time to hang around and listen to horse talk, and see Burt knock some yap cold that got too gay, and you'd find out about horses and men and pick up a lot of stuff you could use all the rest of your life, if you had some sense and salted down what you heard and felt and saw.

 And then at the end of the week when the race meet was over, and Harry had run home to tend up to his livery stable business, you and Burt hitched the two horses to carts and drove slow and steady across country to the place for the next meeting, so as to not over-heat the horses, etc., etc., you know.

 Gee whizz, gosh a mighty, the nice hickorynut and beechnut and oaks and other kinds of trees along the roads, all brown and red, and the good smells, and Burt singing a song that was called Deep River, and the country girls at the windows of houses and everything. You can stick your colleges up your nose for all me. I guess I know where I got my education.

 Why, one of those little burgs of towns you come to on the way, say now on a Saturday afternoon, and Burt says, "Let's lay up here." And you did.

 And you took the horses to a livery stable and fed them, and you got your good clothes out of a box and put them on.

 And the town was full of farmers gaping, because they could see you were race horse people, and the kids maybe never see a n----- before and was afraid and run away when the two of us walked down their main street.

 And that was before prohibition and all that foolishness, and so you went into a saloon, the two of you, and all the yaps come and stood around, and there was always someone pretended he was horsey and knew things and spoke up and began asking questions, and all you did was to lie and lie all you could about what horses you had, and I said I owned them, and then some fellow said "Will you have a drink of whiskey" and Burt knocked his eye out the way he could say, offhand like, "Oh well, all right, I'm agreeable to a little nip. I'll split a quart with you." Gee whizz.

But that isn't what I want to tell my story about. We got home late in November and I promised mother I'd quit the race horses for good. There's a lot of things you've got to promise a mother because she don't know any better.

 And so, there not being any work in our town any more than when I left there to go to the races, I went off to Sandusky and got a pretty good place taking care of horses for a man who owned a teaming and delivery and storage and coal and real estate business there. It was a pretty good place with good eats, and a day off each week, and sleeping on a cot in a big barn, and mostly just shovelling in hay and oats to a lot of big good-enough skates of horses, that couldn't have trotted a race with a toad. I wasn't dissatisfied and I could send money home.

 And then, as I started to tell you, the fall races come to Sandusky and I got the day offend I went. I left the job at noon and had on my good clothes and my new brown derby hat I'd just bought the Saturday before, and a stand-up collar.

 First of all I went downtown and walked about with the dudes. I've always thought to myself, "Put up a good front" and so I did it. I had forty dollars in my pocket and so I went into the West House, a big hotel, and walked up to the cigar stand. "Give me three twenty-five cent cigars,” I said. There was a lot of horsemen and strangers and dressed-up people from other towns standing around in the lobby and in the bar, and I mingled amongst them In the bar there was a fellow with a cane and a Windsor tie on that it made me sick to look at him. I like a man to be a man and dress up, but not to go put on that kind of airs. So I pushed him aside, kind of rough, and had me a drink of whiskey. And then he looked at me, as though he thought maybe he'd get gay, but he changed his mind and didn't say anything. And then I had another whiskey, just to show him something, and went out and had a hack out to the races, all to myself, and when I got there I bought myself the best seat I could get up in the grand stand, but didn't go in for any of these boxes. That's putting on too many airs.

And so there I was sitting up in the grandstand as gay as you please and looking down on the swipes coming out with their horses, and with their dirty horsey pants on and the horse blankets swung over their shoulders, same as I had been doing all the year before. I liked one thing about the same as the other, sitting up there and feeling grand and being down there and looking up at the yaps and feeling grander and more important too. One thing's about as good as another, if you take it just right. I've often said that.

 Well, right in front of me, in the grandstand that day, there was a fellow with a couple of girls and they was about my age. The young fellow was a nice guy all right. He was the kind maybe that goes to college and then comes to be a lawyer or maybe a newspaper editor or something like that, but he wasn't stuck on himself. There are some of that kind are all right and he was one of the ones.

 He had his sister with him and another girl and the sister looked around over his shoulder, accidental at first, not intending to start anything—she wasn't that kind—and her eyes and mine happened to meet.

 You know how it is. Gee, she was a peach! She had on a soft dress, kind of a blue stuff and it looked carelessly made, but was well sewed and made and everything. I knew that much. I blushed when she looked right at me and so did she. She was the nicest girl I've ever seen in my life. She wasn't stuck on herself and she could talk proper grammar without being like a school teacher or something like that. What I mean is, she was O.K. I think maybe her father was well-to-do, but not rich to make her chesty because she was his daughter, as some are. Maybe he owned a drug store or a drygoods store in their home town, or something like that She never told me and I never asked.

 My own people are all O.K. too when you come to that. My grandfather was Welsh and over in the old country, in Wales he was—but never mind that.

 The first heat of the first race come off and the young fellow setting there with the two girls left them and went down to make a bet. I knew what he was up to, but he didn't talk big and noisy and let everyone around know he was a sport as some do. He wasn't that kind. Well, he come back and I heard him tell the two girls what horse he'd bet on, and when the heat was trotted they all half got to their feet and acted in the excited, sweaty way people do when they've got money down on a race, and the horse they bet on is up there pretty close at the end, and they think maybe he'll come on with a rush, but he never does because he hasn't got the old juice in him, come right down to it.

 And then, pretty soon, the horses came out for the 2.18 pace and there was a horse in it I knew. He was a horse Bob French had in his string but Bob didn't own him. He was a horse owned by a Mr. Mathers down at Marietta, Ohio.

 This Mr. Mathers had a lot of money and owned some coal mines or something, and he had a swell place out in the country, and he was stuck on race horses, but was a Presbyterian or something, and I think more than likely his wife was one too, maybe a stiffer one than himself. So he never raced his horses his self, and the story round the Ohio race tracks was that when one of his horses got ready to go to the races he turned him over to Bob French and pretended to his wife he was sold.

 So Bob had the horses and he did pretty much as he pleased and you can't blame Bob, at least I never did. Sometimes he was out to win and sometimes he wasn't. I never cared much about that when I was swiping a horse. What I did want to know was that my horse had the speed and could go out in front if you wanted him to.

 —And, as I'm telling you, there was Bob in this race with one of Mr. Mathers' horses, was named About Ben Ahem or something like that, and was fast as a streak. He was a gelding and had a mark of 2.21, but could step in .08 or .09.

 Because when Burt and I were out, as I've told you, the year before, there was a n----- Burt knew, worked for Mr. Mathers, and we went out there one day when we didn't have no race on at the Marietta Fair and our boss Harry was gone home.

 And so everyone was gone to the fair but just this one n----- and he took us all through Mr. Mathers' swell house and he and Burt tapped a bottle of wine Mr. Mathers had hid in his bedroom, back in a closet, without his wife knowing, and he showed us this Ahem horse. Burt was always stuck on being a driver but didn't have much chance to get to the top, being a n-----, and he and the other n----- gulped that whole bottle of wine and Burt got a little lit up.

 So the n----- let Burt take this About Ben Ahem and step him a mile in a track Mr. Mathers had all to himself, right there on the farm. And Mr. Mathers had one child, a daughter, Linda sick and not very good looking, and she came home and we had to hustle and get About Ben Ahem stuck back in the barn.

 I'm only telling you to get everything straight. At Sandusky, that afternoon I was at the fair, this young fellow with the two girls was fussed, being with the girls and losing his bet. You know how a fellow is that way. One of them was his girl and the other his sister. I had figured that out.

 "Gee whizz," I says to myself, "I'm going to give him the dope."

 He was mighty nice when I touched him on the shoulder. He and the girls were nice to me right from the start and clear to the end. I'm not blaming them.

 And so he leaned back and I give him the dope on About Ben Ahem. "Don't bet a cent on this first heat because he'll go like an oxen hitched to a plow, but when the first heat is over go right down and lay on your pile." That's what I told him.

 Well, I never saw a fellow treat any one sweller. There was a fat man sitting beside the little girl, that had looked at me twice by this time, and I at her, and both blushing, and what did he do but have the nerve to turn and ask the fat man to get up and change places with me so I could set with his crowd.

 Gee whizz, craps almighty. There I was. What a chump I was to go and get gay up there in the West House bar, and just because that dude was standing there with a cane and that kind of a necktie on, to go and get all balled up, and drink that whiskey, just to show off.

 Of course she would know, me setting right beside her and letting her smell of my breath. I could have kicked myself right down out of that grandstand and all around that race track and made a faster record than most of the skates of horses they had there that year.

 Because the girl wasn't any mutt of a girl. What wouldn't I have give right then for a stick of chewing gum to chew, or a lozenger, or some liquorice, or most anything. I was glad I had those twenty-five cent cigars in my pocket and right away I give that fellow one and lit one myself. Then that fat man got up and we changed places and there I was, plunked right down beside her.

 They introduced themselves and the fellow's best girl he had with him was named Miss Elinor Woodbury, and her father was a manufacturer of barrels from a place called Tiffin, Ohio. And the fellow himself was named Wilbur Wessen and his sister was Miss Lucy Wessen.

 I suppose it was their having such swell names got me off my trolley. A fellow, just because he has been a swipe with a race horse and works taking care of horses for a man in the teaming, delivery, and storage business, isn't any better or worse than anyone else. I've often thought that, and said it too.

 But you know how a fellow is. There's something in that kind of nice clothes, and the kind of nice eyes she had, and the way she had looked at me, awhile before, over her brother's shoulder, and me looking back at her, and both of us blushing.

 I couldn't show her up for a book, could I?

 I made a fool of myself, that's what I did. I said my name was Walter Mathers from Marietta, Ohio, and then I told all three of them the smashingest lie you ever heard. What I said was that my father owned the horse About Ben Ahem and that he had let him out to this Bob French for racing purposes, because our family was proud and had never gone into racing that way, in our own name, I mean. Then I had got started and they were all leaning over and listening, and Miss Lucy Wessen's eyes were shining, and I went the whole hog.

 I told about our place down at Marietta, and about the big stables and the grand brick house we had on a hill, up above the Ohio River, but I knew enough not to do it in no bragging way. What I did was to start things and then let them drag the rest out of me. I acted just as reluctant to tell as I could. Our family hasn't got any barrel factory, and, since I've known us, we've always been pretty poor, but not asking anything of anyone at that, and my grandfather, over in Wales—but never mind that.

 We set there talking like we had known each other for years and years, and I went and told them that my father had been expecting maybe this Bob French wasn't on the square, and had sent me up to Sandusky on the sly to find out what I could.

 And I bluffed it through I had found out all about the 2.18 pace, in which About Ben Ahem was to start.

 I said he would lose the first heat by pacing like a lame cow and then he would come back and skin 'em alive after that. And to back up what I said I took thirty dollars out of my pocket and handed it to Mr. Wilbur Wessen and asked him, would he mind, after the first heat, to go down and place it on About Ben Ahem for whatever odds he could get. What I said was that I didn't want Bob French to see me and none of the swipes.

 Sure enough the first heat come off and About Ben Ahem went off his stride up the back stretch and looked like a wooden horse or a sick one and come in to be last. Then this Wilbur Wessen went down to the betting place under the grandstand and there I was with the two girls, and when that Miss Woodbury was looking the other way once, Lucy Wessen kinda, with her shoulder you know, kinda touched me. Not just tucking down, I don't mean. You know how a woman can do. They get close, but not getting gay either. You know what they do. Gee whizz.

 And then they give me a jolt. What they had done, when I didn't know, was to get together, and they had decided Wilbur Wessen would bet fifty dollars, and the two girls had gone and put in ten dollars each, of their own money too. I was sick then, but I was sicker later.

 About the gelding, About Ben Ahem, and their winning their money, I wasn't worried a lot about that. It come out O.K. Ahem stepped the next three heats like a bushel of spoiled eggs going to market before they could be found out, and Wilbur Wessen had got nine to two for the money. There was something else eating at me.

 Because Wilbur come back after he had bet the money, and after that he spent most of his time talking to that Miss Woodbury, and Lucy Wessen and I was left alone together like on a desert island. Gee, if I'd only been on the square or if there had been any way of getting myself on the square. There ain't any Walter Mathers, like I said to her and them, and there hasn't ever been one, but if there was, I bet I'd go to Marietta, Ohio, and shoot him tomorrow.

 There I was, big book that I am. Pretty soon the race was over, and Wilbur had gone down and collected our money, and we had a hack downtown, and he stood us a swell supper at the West House, and a bottle of champagne beside.

 And I was with that girl and she wasn't saying much, and I wasn't saying much either. One thing I know. She wasn't stuck on me because of the lie about my father being rich and all that. There's a way you know . . . Craps almighty. There's a kind of girl you see just once in your life, and if you don't get busy and make hay, then you're gone for good and all, and might as well go jump off a bridge. They give you a look from inside of them somewhere, and it ain't no vamping, and what it means is—you want that girl to be your wife, and you want nice things around her like flowers and swell clothes, and you want her to have the kids you're going to have, and you want good music played and no rag time. Gee whizz.

 There's a place over near Sandusky, across a kind of bay, and it's called Cedar Point. And after we had supper we went over to it in a launch, all by ourselves. Wilbur and Miss Lucy and that Miss Woodbury had to catch a ten o'clock train back to Tiffin, Ohio, because, when you're out with girls like that, you can't get careless and miss any trains and stay out all night, like you can with some kinds of Janes.

 And Wilbur blowed himself to the launch and it cost him fifteen cold plunks, but I wouldn't never have knew if I hadn't listened. He wasn't no tin horn kind of a sport.

 Over at the Cedar Point place, we didn't stay around where there was a gang of common kind of cattle at all.

 There was big dance halls and dining places for yaps, and there was a beach you could walk along and get where it was dark, and we went there.

 She didn't talk hardly at all and neither did I, and I was thinking how glad I was my mother was all right, and always made us kids learn to eat with a fork at table, and not swill soup, and not be noisy and rough like a gang you see around a race track that way.

 Then Wilbur and his girl went away up the beach and Lucy and I sat down in a dark place, where there was some roots of old trees the water had washed up, and after that the time, till we had to go back in the launch and they had to catch their trains, worst nothing at all. It went like winking your eye.

 Here's how it was. The place we were setting in was dark, like I said, and there was the roots from that old stump sticking up like arms, and there was a watery smell, and the night was like—as if you could put your hand out and feel it—so warm and soft and dark and sweet like an orange.

 I most cried and I most swore and I most jumped up and danced, I was so mad and happy and sad.

 When Wilbur come back from being alone with his girl, and she saw him coming, Lucy she says, "We got to go to the train now," and she was most crying too, but she never knew nothing I knew, and she couldn't be so all busted up. And then, before Wilbur and Miss Woodbury got up to where we was, she put her face up and kissed me quick and put her head up against me and she was all quivering and—gee whizz.

 Sometimes I hope I have cancer and die. I guess you know what I mean. We went in the launch across the bay to the train like that, and it was dark too. She whispered and said it was like she and I could get out of the boat and walk on the water, and it sounded foolish, but I knew what she meant.

 And then quick we were right at the depot, and there was a big gang of yaps, the kind that goes to the fairs, and crowded and milling around like cattle, and how could I tell her? "It won't be long because you'll write and I'll write to you." That's all she said.

 I got a chance like a hay barn afire. A swell chance I got.

 And maybe she would write me, down at Marietta that way, and the letter would come back, and stamped on the front of it by the U.S.A. "there aint any such guy," or something like that, whatever they stamp on a letter that way.

 And me trying to pass myself off for a big hug and a swell—to her, as decent a little body as God ever made. Craps amighty—a swell chance I got!

 And then the train come in, and she got on it, and Wilbur Wessen he come and shook hands with me, and that Miss Woodbury was nice too and bowed to me, and I at her, and the train went and I busted out and cried like a kid.

 Gee, I could have run after that train and made Dan Patch look like a freight train after a wreck but, socks a mighty, what was the use? Did you ever see such a fool?

 I'll bet you what—if I had an arm broke right now or a train had run over my foot—I wouldn't go to no doctor at all. I'd go set down and let her hurt and hurt—that's what I'd do.

 I'll bet you what—if I hadn't a drunk that booze I'd a never been such a boob as to go tell such a lie--that couldn't never be made straight to a lady like her.

 I wish I had that fellow right here that had on a Windsor tie and carried a cane. I'd smash him for fair. Gosh darn his eyes. He's a big fool—that's what he is.

 And if I'm not another you just go find me one and I'll quit working and be a bum and give him my job. I don't care nothing for working, and earning money, and saving it for no such boob as myself.

 Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name, Martin Hill, is the author of A Predatory Mind. His latest mystery, Never Kill A Friend, is available from Ransom Note Press. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at mdhillortiz@gmail.com.

Stephen King's Favorite Book: Available for Reading

I have been posting lists of mystery author's favorite books. Stephen King, famous for his horror and fantasy writing, won 2015's Edgar for best mystery novel for his work, Mr. Mercedes.

When asked about his favorite books, the first on King's list was a collection of short stories he came across when he was young: The Golden Argosy by Van H. Cartmell & Charles Grayson, editors. (1955, Dial Press, NY)

I have run down the Table of Contents from worldcat and from there searched for copyright information. The great majority of the stories are public domain. Among the remaining, several are provided for free online by their publishers, e.g., The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Back for Christmas by The New Yorker. Only one of the forty stories could not be found available from a legitimate source online (interestingly, the final one in the collection).

The Table of Contents is presented below along with links to the individual stories. So, read up, get inspired and write books that will thrill a generation.

The Golden Argosy (1955), Table of Contents.

    I'm a Fool by Sherwood Anderson (1922)
    The Happy Hypocrite by Max Beerbohm (1897)
    The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benét (1937)
    The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce (1893)
    The Chink and the Child by Thomas Burke (1917)
    Paul's Case by Willa Cather (1905)
    Back for Christmas by John Collier (1939)
    Youth by Joseph Conrad (1898)
    The Bar Sinister by Richard Harding Davis (1903)
    The Red-Headed League by A. Conan Doyle (1891)
    A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner (1930)
    Old Man Minick by Edna Ferber (1922)
    The Rich Boy by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1926)
    The Celestial Omnibus by E.M. Forster (1911)
    The Three Strangers by Thomas Hardy (1883)
    The Outcasts of Poker Flat by Bret Harte (1892)
    The Killers by Ernest Hemingway (1927)
    The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (1904)

    The Gioconda Smile by Aldous Huxley (1921)
    The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs (1902)
    The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling (1888)
    The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney by Rudyard Kipling (1899)
    Champion by Ring Lardner (1916)

    To Build a Fire by Jack London (1902, 1908)
    The Fly by Katherine Mansfield (1922)
    Rain by W. Somerset Maugham (1921)
    Big Blonde by Dorothy Parker (1929)
    The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe (1841)
    The Gold-Bug by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)
    Flowering Judas by Katherine Anne Porter (1930)
    Tobermory by Saki (1911)
    The Leader of the People by John Steinbeck (1937)
    Markheim by Robert L. Stevenson (1885)
    A Lodging for the Night by Robert L. Stevenson (1887)
    The Lady or the Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton (1882)
    Monsieur Beaucaire by Booth Tarkington (1900)
    The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber (1939)
    The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain (1867)
    The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke. (1895)
    Chickamauga by Thomas Wolfe. (1937)
Not available due to copyright. Extended excerpts can be found through Google Books.

The remaining books on Stephen King's top ten list.

2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884).
3. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988).
4. McTeague by Frank Norris (1899).
5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1955).
6. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853).
7. 1984 by George Orwell (1948). 

8. The Raj Quartet  by Paul Scott (1966–75).
9. Light in August by William Faulkner (1932).
10. Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy (1985).

Previous posts of mystery writers choosing their favorite mysteries.

  The first post: P.D. James, Andrew Klavan, Thomas H. Cook, John Dickson Carr and Arthur Conan Doyle.
  The second post: Isaac Asimov, Robert Barnard, George Baxt, James Ellroy, Michael Gilbert, Sue Grafton, Reginald Hill, Tony Hillerman, HRF Keating, Peter Lovesey, Charlotte MacLeod, Sara Paretsky, Julian Symons, and Martin Hill Ortiz.
  The third post: Robert B. Parker, Elizabeth Peters, Peter Straub, Donald E. Westlake, and Phyllis A. Whitney.
  The fourth post: Aaron Elkins, John Gardner,  Michael Malone and Marcia Muller
  The fifth post: Robert Barnard (best recent), Jacques Barzun, Rex Stout and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 1950.

 The sixth post: Jeannette de Beauvoir, Mary Reed, and John Dufresne.
 The seventh post:  Angela Zeman, Carolyn Wheat, Ann Rule, John Lutz, Dick Lochte, Laurie R. King, Tony Hillerman, Jeremiah Healy, Linda Fairstein and Jan Burke.
 The eighth post: Agatha Christie (favorites among her own works), Julia Buckley, and 38 renowned authors choose their favorite forgotten books, including John Le Carré and Elmore Leonard.
 The ninth post: Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Don Winslow, Polly Whitney and E.E. Kennedy.
 The tenth post: George Pelecanos, Mary Higgins Clark and Charlaine Harris.

A Predator's Game is available in soft-cover and ebook editions 

through Amazon and other online retailers.

Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Henry H. Holmes are characters in my  thriller, A Predator's Game, Rook's Page Publishing.

Back page blurb.

Manhattan, 1896.

When the author Arthur Conan Doyle meets Nikola Tesla he finds a tall, thin genius with a photographic memory and a keen eye, and recognizes in the eccentric inventor the embodiment of his creation, Sherlock. Together, they team up to take on an "evil Holmes." Multi-murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes has escaped execution and is unleashing a reign of terror upon the metropolis. Set in the late nineteenth century in a world of modern marvels, danger and invention, Conan Doyle and Tesla engage the madman in a deadly game of wits.

Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name, Martin Hill, is the author of A Predatory Mind. Its sequel, set in 1890s Manhattan and titled A Predator's Game,  features Nikola Tesla as detective.

His recent mystery, Never Kill A Friend, is available from Ransom Note Press. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at mdhillortiz@gmail.com.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Pelecanos, Higgins Clark, Charlaine Harris: A Tenth Installment of Mystery Writers Choosing Their Favorite Mysteries

Today the ebook version of my latest novel, Never Kill A Friend, becomes available. More about that here

Below is a continuation of the favorite books of mystery writers. While today's lists are from various sites, I  have started compiling the Barnes and Noble interviews which include twenty-three contemporary mystery-thriller authors and their selections will keep me busy for several more posts. (Note: access to the B & N interviews seem to have disappeared: the links, non-functional.)

Up to bat: George Pelecanos, Mary Higgins Clark and Charlaine Harris.

George Pelecanos

George Pelecanos writes with an incisive disciplined prose. His favorite setting is the underside of the nation's capitol. Along with almost twenty novels, he has written for the television shows, Treme and The Wire. From his Barnes and Noble interview.

Unknown Man #89 by Elmore Leonard
...this is as notable for its crime fiction elements as it is for its love story and realistic depiction of alcoholism. 

Swag by Elmore Leonard
The first chapter alone is worth the price of the ticket.

Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Series #3) by James Lee Burke
James Lee Burke is the best pure writer among us. ... Violent and poetic.

Gone, Baby, Gone (Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro Series #4) by Dennis Lehane
This one has it all: jaw-dropping action sequences, a realistic and surprising mystery solution, scope, character, and narrative drive.

The Last Coyote (Harry Bosch Series #4) by Michael Connelly
Once started, the Harry Bosch books cannot be put down or out of mind.

Clockers by Richard Price

[It's] my generation's The Grapes of Wrath.

The Deep Blue Good-By (Travis McGee Series #1) by John D. MacDonald, Lee Child
The first crime novel I ever read is also the first Travis McGee novel ... A remarkable series.

The Galton Case (Lew Archer Series #8) by Ross Macdonald
... what a book. 

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Hands down, Raymond Chandler's masterpiece.

The Last Good Kiss (C.W. Sughrue Series #1) by James Crumley
If I had to name one book that most made me want to become a crime fiction novelist, this is it. 

Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter. Introduction by George P. Pelecanos.

A great American novel written with fierce conviction and ambition.

Mary Higgins Clark’s Favorite Chilling Thrillers

From her first mystery, Where Are the Children? in 1977 to this day, Mary Higgins Clark has enthralled her readers delivering the most pleasurable of chills. From a 2013 interview with The Daily Beast.

Payment Deferred by C.S. Forester
One of the best suspense stories ever written. 

Fallen by Karin Slaughter
Karin Slaughter always grabs you on the first line and never lets go.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Engrossing from page one. Layer upon layer of suspense. 

Green Darkness by Anya Seton
I've always loved the idea of people living out the unfinished tragedy of other people in another lifetime. 

As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs
One of the top suspense writers of our time...

Charlaine Harris

Harris is the bestselling and prolific author of several mystery series, her most popular being the Southern Vampire Mysteries, the basis for the HBO Series, True Blood. This list remarkably comes from the Ann Arbor, Michigan District Library's Police Department History's webpage. (God bless Google)

1  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.
2  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. 
3  Passage by Connie Willis.
4  Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
5  Lullaby Town by Robert Crais.
6  The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.
7  One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. 
8  The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. 
9  We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. 
10  The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey.
 Previous posts of mystery writers choosing their favorite mysteries.

  The first post: P.D. James, Andrew Klavan, Thomas H. Cook, John Dickson Carr, Arthur Conan Doyle
  The second post: Isaac Asimov, Robert Barnard, George Baxt, James Ellroy, Michael Gilbert, Sue Grafton, Reginald Hill, Tony Hillerman, HRF Keating, Peter Lovesey, Charlotte MacLeod, Sara Paretsky, Julian Symons, Martin Hill Ortiz
  The third post: Robert B. Parker, Elizabeth Peters, Peter Straub, Donald E. Westlake, Phyllis A. Whitney
  The fourth post: Aaron Elkins, John Gardner,  Michael Malone, Marcia Muller
  The fifth post: Robert Barnard (best recent), Jacques Barzun, Rex Stout,  Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 1950.
The sixth post: Jeannette de Beauvoir, Mary Reed, John Dufresne
 The seventh post:  Angela Zeman, Carolyn Wheat, Ann Rule, John Lutz, Dick Lochte, Laurie R. King, Tony Hillerman, Jeremiah Healy, Linda Fairstein, Jan Burke
 The eighth post: Agatha Christie (favorites among her own works), Julia Buckley, and 38 renowned authors choose their favorite forgotten books, including John Le Carré and Elmore Leonard.
 The ninth post: Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Don Winslow,Polly Whitney, E.E. Kennedy.

Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name, Martin Hill, is the author of A Predatory Mind. His latest mystery, Never Kill A Friend, is available from Ransom Note Press. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at mdhillortiz@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

More Mystery Writers Name Their Favorite Books

Today is the launch of my latest novel, Never Kill A Friend. More about that here

As you ponder your purchase, I will continue to provide lists of the favorite books by mystery writers. I had thought I had run low on sources for these lists, but recently came up with a means to find more.

Today: Dennis Lehane, Don Winslow, Michael Connelly, Polly Whitney and E.E. Kennedy.

Dennis Lehane

Lehane is the author of numerous bestsellers, three of which have been adapted to film: Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River; and Shutter Island, attracting the directors Eastwood, Affleck and Scorsese. He also wrote for the acclaimed television series, The Wire. The following list of favorite novels (not only mysteries) is from a Barnes and Noble interview, 2008.

1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez -- Part fever-dream, part reinterpretation of The Bible, politically and socially furious, bawdy, heartbreaking, extravagantly entertaining on every page. It's the most perfect novel I know.

2. The Wanderers by Richard Price -- For the reasons stated above.

3. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy -- Introduced me to Southern Literature and the philosophical novel in one fell swoop. Exceedingly gentle and humane, beautifully written on every page.

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- I never met a writer who wasn't deeply influenced by this novel. Structurally flawless, full of incandescent prose and observations, pretty much an immortal achievement in under 200 pages.

5. Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth all by Shakespeare --I developed an addiction to Shakespeare's tragedies as an undergrad. There's nothing I could say about them that hasn't been said much better by others.

6. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy -- Seems utterly impenetrable when you first attempt to tackle it but gradually reveals itself as the Moby Dick of our time. Completely unlike anything I've ever read and yields new treasures every time I read it.

7. The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley -- The benchmark novel in American noir. Literature masquerading as a "genre" novel. The gold standard in crime fiction, as far as I'm concerned, probably never to be equaled.

8. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton -- War can be played out on a very quiet stage. Violence can be a misplaced whisper, a barely-heard rumor. At stake is love versus society, and society wins.

(Blogger's note: I am very impressed by his descriptions and book analysis.)

Don Winslow

Winslow is one of the great modern mystery masters. His 17 novels have been nominated for, or won, a total of 19 Edgar, Shamus, Maltese Falcon, Barry, Dagger and Dilys awards. The following is from Publishers Weekly.

1. The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George Higgins
The Friends of Eddie Coyle is the most realistic crime novel ever written, perfectly catching the world of small-time New England criminals without ever lapsing into either romanticism or bathos.

2. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
I was on a panel with Michael Connolly when someone in the audience asked ‘What’s the best private eye novel ever written?’ Michael and I answered simultaneously, ‘The Long Goodbye’ then looked down the table at each other and smiled.

3. The Guards by Ken Bruen
It’s a terrific story, but it’s the writing that gets you. No one does dialogue better, but that prose – oh my god, that prose. It sings.

4. L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
...Ellroy owns L.A. of the 1950's ... The characters – Exley, White and Vincennes – are so real, so finely drawn, such bundles of internal conflict. ... I vividly remember reading this book when I was trying to become a crime writer and thinking, “This is how it’s done, this is what I want to be.”

5. Laguna Heat by T. Jefferson Parker
"A perfect morning in a city of perfect mornings; an artist would have worked, a god would have rested.”
I mean, come on - if [there's] any better than the opening sentence of Laguna Heat, I haven’t seen it.

Michael Connelly's Favorite Legal Thrillers

Just being able to spell Hieronymus Bosch should be an accomplishment enough for most writers, but Connelly has given us 28 superb crime novels featuring, among others, Detective Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller. Connelly has won virtually every mystery award and has served two terms as president of the Mystery Writers of America. From: Entertainment Weekly;10/17/2008, Issue 1016, p103.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
"This great American novel also hits every requirement of a thriller."

2. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
"The high-water mark for the literary legal thriller."

3. A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
"Nonfiction, but as riveting as a novel."

4. The Firm by John Grisham
"Turned the genre on its ear. Momentum, action, and surprise in a story on the law."

5. El Niño by Douglas Anne Munson
"Obscure but beautiful — when the law is a hurtful thing."

Polly Whitney

Whitney has had a double career: writing fiction and teaching. Among her mystery novels, Until Death was nominated for an Edgar Award for best first novels. Among her other works, one book stands out, a literary coming-of-age novel and not a mystery: This is Graceanne's Book. Her website and her blog.

1.  In The Best Families by Rex Stout
I could almost have chosen randomly from the Wolfe canon—the routines in these novels are part of the appeal, after all. But this one does break Stout's own pattern, is a terrific puzzle, and (best of all) gives Archie room to roam—and it is, I think, Archie's distinctive voice that accounts for the lasting charm of the Nero Wolfe series.

2.  Dracula by Bram Stoker

3.  L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy

4.  Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

5.  Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

E.E. Kennedy

Kennedy is the author of the Miss Prentice Cozy mystery series published by Sheaf House. The main character is a high school English teacher. Titles include: Irregardless of Murder, Death Dangles a Participle, Murder in the Past Tense and the upcoming Incomplete Sentence (spring, '16). Sample chapters are available at www.missprenticecozymystery.com and her blog can be found at http://twjmag.com/columns/behind-the-mystery/.

E.E. Kennedy's Memorable Mysteries:

1. Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie. Christie plays it completely straight with the reader; all the clues are in plain sight.

2. Murder on a Girls' Night Out by Anne George. Wacky, hilarious cozy full of improbable (but true) local Alabama color.

3. Maigret and the Madwoman by Georges Simenon. Cynical Inspector Maigret is jaded, but uncannily perceptive and Simenon never wastes a single word.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. The original Victorian Gothic mystery/romance, dark, overwrought, maudlin and fun.

5. Madame, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart. Fast-paced and completely politically incorrect; woman flees from, but is also attracted to, seductive potential villain. Yum.

Previous posts of mystery writers choosing their favorite mysteries.
  The first post: P.D. James, Andrew Klavan, Thomas H. Cook, John Dickson Carr, Arthur Conan Doyle
  The second post: Isaac Asimov, Robert Barnard, George Baxt, James Ellroy, Michael Gilbert, Sue Grafton, Reginald Hill, Tony Hillerman, HRF Keating, Peter Lovesey, Charlotte MacLeod, Sara Paretsky, Julian Symons, Martin Hill Ortiz
  The third post: Robert B. Parker, Elizabeth Peters, Peter Straub, Donald E. Westlake, Phyllis A. Whitney
  The fourth post: Aaron Elkins, John Gardner,  Michael Malone, Marcia Muller
  The fifth post: Robert Barnard (best recent), Jacques Barzun, Rex Stout,  Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 1950.
The sixth post: Jeannette de Beauvoir, Mary Reed, John Dufresne
 The seventh post:  Angela Zeman, Carolyn Wheat, Ann Rule, John Lutz, Dick Lochte, Laurie R. King, Tony Hillerman, Jeremiah Healy, Linda Fairstein, Jan Burke
 The eighth post: Agatha Christie (favorites among her own works), Julia Buckley, and 38 renowned authors choose their favorite forgotten books, including John Le Carré and Elmore Leonard.

Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name, Martin Hill, is the author of A Predatory Mind. His latest mystery, Never Kill A Friend, is available from Ransom Note Press. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at mdhillortiz@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My latest novel, Never Kill A Friend, is available for purchase.

Never Kill A Friend, my second novel, is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble  

The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison. 

The genesis of the idea came from a variation on the locked-room mystery. Instead of not being able to explain a murder in a locked room, there is one seemingly irrefutable explanation: the person who was locked in the room with the victim must have been the perpetrator.

This is enough to put the suspect in jail. However, the same crime happens again, this time with the detective being the only possible culprit.

The work has the urban grittiness of George Pelecanos and The Wire. 

The first chapter is presented below. 

Chapter 1

            The rookie cop swept his damp palm over his holster, signaling to the dozen onlookers to stand back: Don't you dare cross the crime-scene tape stretched across the entrance to the two-story tenement. His pale skin was pimpled with fear, his eyes danced about, his jaw tensed.
            The onlookers regarded him with curiosity or pained impatience. Some sent double-barreled stares.
            "I live here," an old black man announced. "My mother needs her meds. I got to take her her meds."
            "I don't care," the rookie said, widening his stance. The Third Police District of Washington Metro extended from embassies and gentrified townhouses to stretches of urban decay. Upon entering this gritty neighborhood, the officer had stepped out of his comfort zone. Even the ordinary seemed to jitter with menacing intent. The three-o'clock bands of school kids passed by, some stopping to see what they could see. Across the street a pair of teenagers exited a hardware store, one tweezing a paper sack between two fingers. Some children entered a hole-in-the-wall grocery. A gray Malibu, DC plates, pulled up and double-parked in front of the building.
            "You can't park there," the rookie said.
            "Yes, I can," a giantess responded as she climbed out of the car, a hefty satchel dangling from her hand. Six-foot four, broad-shouldered, African-American, she had a linebacker's tilt; she leaned forward as she barreled toward him.
            "Stop scratching your holster," she ordered. "Your twitching hand tells the crowd you'd take five minutes to dig out your pistol." She butted his shoulder as she passed.
            "Hey!" the officer protested.
            "See? You couldn't even draw your gun on someone bowling you down." She raised her badge so he had to look up. "Detective Shelley Krieg. The damage is on the second floor?"
            "Um … yeah. Second floor."
            She stiff-armed the building's front door, shoving it open.
            "How come she gets to go through?" someone shouted.
            Krieg halted, then pivoted. "Because I've got this shiny ticket." She flashed her shield.
            The old man called out to her, "My mother needs her meds!"
            "Which floor?"
            "Let him pass," Shelley told the rookie. "Why'd you cordon off the whole building?"
            "There's blood in the hallway," the cop answered.
            "Second floor?"
            "Yeah. Yes, ma'am."
            "Then move the tape to the front of the stairwell. Is the back entrance secured?"
            "Yes, ma'am."
            "Good work."
            She bounded up the steps two at a time.

            At the top of the stairs, a spindly teenaged kid sat folded up, his face buried in his knobby knees. He wore Plasticuffs cinched tightly around his wrists and ankles. His eyes cried out, his nose emptied of snot, he rocked himself gently back and forth. Shelley sniffed. The carpet smelled of fresh urine. His.
            A splash of blood painted the tips of his sneakers. His bloody tracks led to a middle apartment where the door hung open, spilling out the only light along the length of the dim corridor. The condition of the overhead fixtures—cracked ceramic and a Medusa's mop of wires—seemed so decrepit that screwing in a light bulb would likely burn the place down.
            A patrolman stood guard over the kid. "Brace yourself. It's all kinds of nasty," he warned as Shelley headed toward the light.
            More crime-scene tape adorned the apartment entrance, streamers for a macabre party.
            Shelley stopped at the doorway. Setting down her satchel, she took out and snapped on vinyl gloves. Before entering, she paused to survey the crime scene. The apartment was cramped, one main room. A fold-out sofa bed, a dining table with two chairs tucked beneath, a dresser, and a kitchen all crowded one another for floor space. A radiator pinged as it heated as though being tapped by a tack hammer.
            "Hey, Shel," Lt. Kris Atchison said. At thirty-five, he was four years her senior but acted a lifetime more weary.
            "Hey, Atch."
            "Better use the booties. The blood is sprinkly. Kind of all over."
            With the way Atch blundered about, he seemed to think the purpose of the disposable covers was to keep his expensive shoes clean, not to preserve evidence. He looked the way Atch always looked: every hair in place, a trim crease to his dress pants. He was the only detective Shelley knew who paid for professional pedicures. She slipped disposable covers over her work shoes.
            A toilet flushed. Detective Sal "Click" Morretti popped open the bathroom door, wedging his shirt flap under the waistband of his pants, below his low-slung belly, and zipping his fly. "Lordy, it's Shelley," he said. "This crime scene just got supersized."
            Shelley ground her teeth and swallowed some well-chosen curse words. She scanned the room. A half-turned key was inserted in the doorknob lock. Others dangled below it at the end of a beaded key chain. Above the knob were three sturdy slide bolts. On the dining table sat a wide-ruled yellow legal pad. It had been moved: Streaks of blood on the table surface joined in right angles to mark the pad's former position. Rows of blotchy green dots filled three lines on the paper—ink bleed-through, a felt-tip pen. No blood spots marked the page. The pad's top sheet had been torn off.
            Thin dotted lines of blood criss-crossed the wooden floor. Some had been mushed by skidding footprints. The sofa bed lay open, the top sheet pulled back into a wad. No blood spray over the foundation sheet. A pair of pruning shears rested blade down in the kitchen sink.
            A phone lay alongside its charging cradle. Its red light was on as though a call was in progress. She lifted it up to listen but heard only the buzz of disconnection. She returned the phone to its position.
            "When does Crime Scene get here?" Shelley asked.
            "When they get here," Click said.
            A broad puddle of blood bloomed from the space behind the sleeper sofa. Shelley stepped to the side and craned her neck to get a better view.
            The victim lay on his back. A light-skinned black male, maybe twenty-five, thin but muscular. The fingers of his left hand had been pruned off at the knuckle; the thumb remained intact. Three of the fingertips lay nearby. As for where the pinkie was hiding, only God knew. A deep-cut impression of an elastic band ran from the corners of his lips along both cheeks: something to hold down a gag and seal in the screams. But what made the scene nasty—as the patrolman put it—the victim's chest had been split, his ribs chopped through and the right half of his rib cage pried open like a swing gate.
            The gash through the muscles was dirty red, the color of day-old meat. The open chest cavity exposed an ugly jumble of pink and grey. The bits of cartilage were the yellow of nicotine-stained teeth while the clipped ends of bones displayed a pearly gleam, jutting out like a ready-to-spring bear trap.
            "It looks like it would take a good deal of strength to do that," Shelley said.
            "I don't know," Atch said. "With the pruning shears I'm guessing you just need to be motivated—or a sick motherfucker."
            "PCP," Click concluded. "A dust freak."
            "You think everything is PCP," Shelley said.
            "Explains the world we live in." Click pointed to the kitchen nook. "I came across a bag of powder on top the fridge. Left it there for CS."
            Shelley knelt to examine the stubs of the victim's fingers. Some were raw red stumps, some had the blood coagulated. The perp had lopped off a finger, then waited to let the bleeding stop. Did another, and then another. That would take time. Minutes? Hours?
            Dried blood crusted the palm of the victim's other hand. The fingerprints of his thumb and index fingers appeared painted with violet.
            Click planted himself in the center of the room and began glancing about and snuffling. Finally, he said, "Krieg? Why are you here?"
            "Tate sent me."
            "Tate?" Click echoed, bridling at the name. Atch froze. "Why three detectives?"
            "The captain must have decided this case was special."
            "Special as in 'super-ugly?' Or special as in 'moron Olympics’? ’Cause three detectives make for a three-way fuck-up. And where's Kent?" Her partner.
            "Personal time."
            Click rolled his eyes. "We don't need him and we don't need you. This one's a slam-dunk. We got the brain-dead perp sitting in the hall."
            "Why are you so convinced he did it, Sherlock?" Krieg asked. “No-shit Sherlock” was Morretti's other pet name, awarded for the way he looked constipated whenever forced to think. Morretti's instincts were off as often as they were on.
            "Because he confessed," Morretti said.
            "He called 911," Atch explained. "He blabbed it all. We got the murder weapon sitting in the sink." The shears. "He cleaned them off afterwards. Shows he considered the consequences. He'll have a tough time claiming he was out-of-his-head high."
            "Kid's name is Rafael Hooks," Click read from a wallet. "Nineteen. Old enough for a life jolt." Click flipped the driver's license to show Krieg how its photo matched the suspect in the hall. As he did so, the contents of the wallet spilled to the floor. Click dropped down to scoop up photos, business cards, and a half dozen singles. In the process he smeared the blood splatters with his knees.
            "You know what? You're right," Krieg said. "Three's a crowd. You two need to hike down the hall and skin some knuckles on a few doors."
            "Umm … Shel, we were up in rotation," Atch said. "We're the primaries. We caught the call."
            "And since then Tate made me the lead."
            "Tate gave you the lead? Fuck me," Click said. He mouthed a few choice slurs and gave her the evil eye as he and Atch slouched their way to the door. They ducked under the tape and hit the hallway. As he parted, Click added, "You ought to plant that kid in the box. He'll talk to you. People trust you. You're just like Oprah."
            Shelley looked around, shaking her head. Crime Scene was going to throw a fit. The two lumbering detectives had managed to smudge the blood on the floorboards. If other shoeprints existed, they would never be sorted out of the mix. If the perp had tried to dispose of drugs and had left any residue in the toilet bowl, Click had flushed it away.
            She decided it was time to listen to the 911 tape and question the kid.