Thursday, July 23, 2015

Audio Recordings: 81 Stories from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

EQMM Podcasts, listed by author and linked.

Updated with recent podcasts, January 2016.

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, 74 years and counting, is the premium American venue for short mystery fiction. They maintain a podcast with a Murderer's Row of murder-minded authors, now up to 77 episodes and 81 stories. The episodes are listed below, sorted by author's last name. Although many of the authors are award-winners, I mentioned awards only for those tied to the specific story in question. In my previous post, the podcasts from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine were similarly indexed and linked.

Allyn, Doug. "Famous Last Words." From EQMM, November, 2009. 42 minutes.
Allyn, Doug. "Stone Cold Christmas." From EQMM January 2007. 44 minutes.
Andrews, Donna. "Normal." From EQMM, May, 2011. 34 minutes.
Anthony, Meredith. "Murder at an Ad Agency." From EQMM, March/April, 2013. 39 minutes.
Bailey, Frankie Y. "In Her Fashion." From EQMM, July, 2014. 51 minutes.
Barnard, Robert. "Rogue's Gallery." From EQMM, March, 2003. 27 minutes.
Benedict, Laura. "The Erstwhile Groom." From EQMM, September/October 2007. 35 minutes.

Brett, Simon. "Work Experience." From EQMM, September/October, 2011. 30 minutes.
Cleeves, Ann. "The Harmless Pursuits of Archibald Stamp." From EQMM, February, 1995. 22 minutes.
Cline, Eric. "Two Dwarves and Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs." From EQMM, June, 2011. 31 minutes.
Cody, Liza. See Lovesey, Peter.
Collins, Max Allan. See Spillane, Mickey.
Cooper, Mike. "Whiz Bang." From EQMM, September/October, 2011. 38 minutes.
Crider, Bill. "The Case of the Headless Man."  From EQMM, March, 1998. 35 minutes.
Dana, Cameron. "Disarming." From EQMM, June, 2011. 35 minutes.
Davidson, Hilary. "Hedge Hog." From EQMM, September/October, 2011. With author interview. 69 minutes.
Dean, David. "Ibrahim’s Eyes." From EQMM, June, 2007. 64 minutes.
Dean, David. See also: Harvey, John.
Dean, Zoë Z. "Getaway Girl." From EQMM, November, 2014. Winner of Robert L. Fish award. 29 minutes.

Dhooge, Bavo. "Stinking Plaster" From EQMM September/October 2011. 31 minutes.

DuBois, Brendan. "Breaking the Box." From EQMM, September/October, 2013. 32 minutes.
Edwards, Martin. "No Flowers." From EQMM, May, 2012. 34 minutes.
Faherty, Terence. "No Mystery." From EQMM, March/April, 2011 EQMM. 24 minutes.
Fredrickson, Jack. "The Brick Thing." From EQMM, September/October, 2002. 28 minutes.
Gorman, Ed. "Comeback." From EQMM, March/April 2009. 23 minutes.
Hall, Parnell. "The Petty-Cash Killing." From EQMM, November, 1999. 39 minutes.
Harris, Charlaine. "Dead Giveaway." From EQMM, December 2001. Also an interview with the author. 42 minutes.
Hart, Carolyn. "Spooked." From EQMM, March 1999. Includes panel interview with Maron, Hart and Pickard. 89 minutes.

Three stories together in one podcast: 26 minutes.
Harvey, John. "Ghosts." From EQMM, September/October, 2009.
Dean, David. "Awake." From EQMM, July, 2009.
Raines, Dave. "Suitcase in Slow Time." From EQMM, June, 2009.

Herron, Mick. "Remote Control." From EQMM, September/October, 2007. 24 minutes.

The Edward Hoch series of locked room mysteries are from a 1970s radio dramatizations produced by Dave Amaral.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of Cell 16." Dramatization. 27 minutes. From EQMM, March 1977.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Christmas Steeple." Dramatization. From EQMM, January, 1977. 27 minutes
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Country Inn." Dramatization. From EQMM, September, 1977. 28 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Covered Bridge." Dramatization. From EQMM, December, 1974. 29 minutes.
 Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Haunted Bandstand." Dramatization. From EQMM, January 1976. 28 minutes.

Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Little Red Schoolhouse." Dramatization. From EQMM, September, 1976. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Lobster Shack." Dramatization. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Locked Caboose." Dramatization. From EQMM, May, 1976. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Old Gristmill." Dramatization. From EQMM in the March 1975. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Old Oak Tree." Dramatization. From EQMM, July, 1978. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Time Capsule." Dramatization. Originally published as "The Problem of the County Fair," in EQMM, February, 1978. 28 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Voting Booth." Dramatization. From EQMM, December, 1977. 28 minutes.

Hockensmith, Steve. "Dear Doctor Watson." From EQMM, February 2007. 35 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "Fruitcake." From EQMM, January, 2003. 25 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "Special Delivery." From EQMM, January, 2002. 32 minutes.
Howard, Clark. "Horn Man." From EQMM, June, 1980. 1981 Poe Award for Best Short Story. 38 minutes.
Howe, Melodie Johnson. "The Talking Dead." Originally published, EQMM, June 2003. 37 minutes.
Ingram, David. "A Good Man of Business." From EQMM, January, 2011. 37 minutes.
Kelner, Toni L.P. "The Pirate's Debt." From EQMM, August, 2009. 76 minutes.
Law, Janice. "Star of the Silver Screen." From EQMM, December, 1996. 28 minutes.
Levinson, Robert S. "The Girl in the Golden Gown." From EQMM March/April 2010. 36 minutes.
Lewin, Michael Z. See Lovesey, Peter.

Three stories in one podcast: Three authors compose stories from one newspaper article. 73 minutes.
Lovesey, Peter. "Say That Again."
Cody, Liza. "The Old Story."
Lewin, Michael Z. "Wheeze."

Lutz, John. "Safe and Loft." From EQMM, March/April 2008. 32 minutes.
Maffini, Mary Jane. "So Much in Common." From EQMM September/October 2010. Read by Maffini and James Lincoln Warrne. Winner of the Agatha Award for Best Short Story. 34 minutes.
Maron, Margaret. "Virgo in Sapphires." From EQMM, December, 2001. Includes panel interview with Maron, Hart and Pickard. 66 minutes.
Milchman, Jenny. "The Closet." From EQMM, November, 2012. 35 minutes.
Moran, Terrie Farley. "Fontaine House." From EQMM, August, 2012. 46 minutes.
Muller, Marcia and Pronzini, Bill. "The Chatelaine Bag." From EQMM, June, 2011. 38 minutes.
Oates, Joyce Carol. "The Fruit Cellar." From EQMM, March/April, 2004. 20 minutes.
Pachter, Josh. "The Night of Power." Originally appeared in EQMM September, 1986. 42 minutes.
Pachter, Josh. "Won't You Come Out Tonight?" From EQMM, March, 2004. 26 minutes.
Phelan, Twist. "Floored." From EQMM, June 2008. 25 minutes.
Pickard, Nancy. "Ms. Grimshank Regrets." From EQMM, May, 2008. Panel interview with Maron, Hart and Pickard. 59 minutes.
Pronzini, Bill. See Muller, Marcia.
Pullen, Karen. "Brea’s Tale." From EQMM, January, 2012. 27 minutes.
Queen, Ellery. "The Adventure of 'The Two-Headed Dog.'" From The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1934). 61 minutes.
Queen, Ellery. "A Lump of Sugar." Dramatization. From EQMM, February, 1953. 9 minutes.
Queen, Ellery. "The Myna Birds." A dramatization of the short story, Cut, Cut, Cut. From EQMM, September, 1956. 12 minutes.
Raines, Dave. See Harvey, John.
Rozan, S.J. "Golden Chance." From EQMM, December, 2012. 50 minutes.
Schofield, Neil. "Groundwork." Dramatization. From EQMM, November, 2001. 25 minutes.
Spillane, Mickey and Collins, Max Allan. "There's a Killer Loose!" From EQMM, August, 2008. 39 minutes.
Taylor, Art. "A Drowning at Snow's Cut." From EQMM, May, 2011. Winner of Derringer Award. 42 minutes.
Todd, Marilyn. "Cupid's Arrow." From EQMM, September, 2003. Dramatized reading. 47 minutes.
Todd, Marilyn. "The Wickedest Town in the West." From EQMM, June, 2013. 51 minutes.
Tolnay, Tom. "Fun and Games at the Carousel Mall." From EQMM, September/October, 2002. 29 minutes.
Van Laerhoven, Bob. "Checkmate in Chimbote." From EQMM, June, 2014. 37 minutes.
Warren, James Lincoln. "Heat of the Moment." From EQMM, June, 2007. 48 minutes.
Williams, Tim L. "The Last Wrestling Bear in West Kentucky." From EQMM, September/October 2014. Winner of International Thriller award. 38 minutes.
Williams, Tim L. "Where That Morning Sun Goes Down." From EQMM, August, 2013. 37 minutes.
Zeltserman, Dave. "Some People Deserve to Die." From EQMM,August, 2011. 35 minutes.
Zelvin, Elizabeth. "The Green Cross." From EQMM, August, 2010. 24 minutes.

A Predator's Game, available March 30, 2016, Rook's Page Publishing.

Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Henry H. Holmes are all characters in my forthcoming thriller, A Predator's Game, Rook's Page Publishing, March 30, 2016.

Back page blurb of A Predator's Game (advance copy, subject to change).

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, will be available from Rook's Page Publishing, March 30, 2016. It 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

Monday, July 20, 2015

Audio Recordings: 31 Stories from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

Listening to the audio version of a story returns me to an infantile state to back when I was warm and safe and tucked under covers while my father or mother read to me in a melodious voice, filling me with thrills and transporting me to a realm of imagination.

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine has a podcast with well-narrated recent and classic mystery and thriller stories. Below is a list, in alphabetical order by name of author, of the thirty-one stories currently available for listening on the computer or for downloading. My follow-up post includes the same material for 75 stories from the podcast of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. 

Betancourt, John Gregory. "Pit on the Road to Hell." From AHMM, July/August, 2006. 56 minutes.
Bowen, Rhys. "The Wall." From AHMM, July/August, 2005. 36 minutes.
Burns, Rex. "Shadow People." From AHMM, June, 2006. 42 minutes.
Cleland, Jane K. "Killing Time." 57 minutes.
Costa, Shelley. "Strangle Vine." From AHMM, November, 2012. 45 minutes.
Emerson, Kathy Lynn. "The Kenduskeag Killer." From AHMM, April, 2005. 46 minutes.
Fisher, Eve. "Drifts." From AHMM, January/February, 2006. 15 minutes.
Fusilli, Jim. "Digby, Attorney at Law." 27 minutes.
Fusilli, Jim. "The One-Armed Man at the Luncheonette."  From AHMM, June, 2014. 19 minutes.
Gore, Steven. "The God of Right and Wrong." From AHMM, January/February 2010. 37 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "The MacGuffin Theft Case." From AHMM, November, 2005. 37 minutes.
Hurst, Howell. "The First Day of Spring." From AHMM, April, 2009. 25 minutes.
Johnson, Douglas Grant."No Trouble At All." 65 minutes.
Lawton, R.T. "Click, Click, Click." 26 minutes.
Limón, Martin. "A Crust of Rice." 25 minutes.
Lopresti, Robert. "Snake in the Sweetgrass." From AHMM, December, 2003. 21 minutes.
Ludwigsen, Will. "In Search Of." From AHMM, June, 2008. 12 minutes.
Lutz, John. "The Explosives Expert." From AHMM, September, 1967. 17 minutes.
MacRae, Molly. "Fandango by Flashlight," 27 minutes.
Millar, Margaret. "The People Across the Canyon." Reprinted AHMM, November, 2005. 39 minutes.
Parker, I.J. "Akitada's First Case." 54 minutes.
Ross, Stephen. "Boundary Bridge." From AHMM, March, 2010. 29 minutes.
Savage, Tom. "The Method in Her Madness." From AHMM, June, 2013. 43 minutes.
Shepphird, John. "Ghost Negligence." From AHMM, July/August, 2012. 33 minutes.
Stevens, B.K. "Adjuncts Anonymous." From AHMM, June, 2009. 80 minutes.
Strong, Marianne Wilski. "Death at Olympia." With introduction. From AHMM, July/August, 2003. 55 minutes.
Vernon, Gigi. "One for the Road." From AHMM, January/February 2006. 32 minutes.
Viets, Elaine. "After the Fall." With a question and answer session. From AHMM, January/February, 2006. 35 minutes.
Wiecek, Mike. "The End of the Train." From AHMM, June, 2007.42 minutes.
Wilson, Jr., L.A. "Jazreen." From AHMM, November, 1997. 53 minutes.
Wishnia, Kenneth. "Between Minke and Mayrev." 52 minutes.
Wishnia, Kenneth. "Burning Twilight." 18 minutes.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Around the World in Mystery: The Best Crime Locations

Part OnePart Two.

Many of the best mystery writers use geography not just as a backdrop but as a vital character in their stories.Today, I have three lists regarding which mystery books are the best at doing justice to locations.

C.J. Box: Top 10 US Crime Novelists Who 'Own' Their Territory

Box writes thrilling mysteries set in the still-untamed West. He provided this list of crime novelists who infuse their stories with time and place. The notes beneath each entry are my own: I realized I've read selections from eight of ten of these authors.

1. Washington DC through the eyes of George Pelecanos
Pelecanos is one of the best crime writers active and a deserving first entry on this list. He recognizes that DC reflects the dramas, the aspirations and the failings of the nation as a whole. For a broad sampling of DC's flavor, I recommend a short story anthology that he edited, D.C. Noir.

2. Montana through the eyes of James Crumley
Crumley has probably done more than any other author to reinvent noir, looking at crime far from the big city. His classic: The Last Good Kiss.

3. Los Angeles through the eyes of Michael Connelly
Box acknowledges Chandler and Ellroy for defining a bygone Los Angeles then praises Connelly for bringing alive contemporary LA through the tales of his troubled police detective, Harry Bosch.

4. New York and New Jersey through the eyes of Richard Price
If you can make it writing about the Big Apple, you can make writing about anywhere. The author of Clockers among other classics.

5. Louisiana through the eyes of James Lee Burke.
The stories of P.I. Dave Robicheaux brings alive Louisiana and The Big Easy. My recommendation as a first choice: Black Cherry Blues.

6. Baltimore through the eyes of Laura Lippman.
For those of you who, like me, can't get enough of the city of The Wire, Homicide and The Corner, you have more selections to slake your thirst in Lippman's thrilling and vivid mysteries set in Baltimore.

7. New Mexico through the eyes of Tony Hillerman
Hillerman was a pioneer of mysteries, extending the genre to previously unheard voices, in particular contemporary Native Americans. Many good choices among his works. Start with The Thief of Time.

8. Boston through the eyes of Dennis Lehane
Before reading Lehane's books I would never have thought Boston was so sweltering, passionate and gritty. Suggested titles: All of them. (Mystic Island is not really Boston, though)

9. Florida through the eyes of Carl Hiaasen
Hiaasen rose up in prominence with several Miami Herald colleagues during the nineties including Edna Buchanan and Dave Barry. Hiaasen nails the hypocrisy of Florida with a steel bolt, satirizing politics and business in a flat world where the con is always on. Where to start? Striptease. (Please don't see the movie.)

10. Chicago through the eyes of Sara Paretsky
 Paretsky's protagonist VI Warshawski packs a punch in the city of Sandburg.

Maxim Jakubowski: Top 10 Crime Locations in Literature.

Jakubowski is either a polyglot, polygamist or polymath. Or maybe he is all three. He is or has been a book editor, crime reporter, author of best-selling erotica and photography books, and now owns the mystery book store, Murder One. He is a judge for the Crime Writers Association awards and columnist for the Guardian. In his spare time he... no, he doesn't have spare time. Below, he presents the best locations in crime novels. The descriptions beneath each are my own.

1. Los Angeles in Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep (1939)
I can't read Chandler without getting Santa Ana dust stuck in my throat.

2. London in Derek Raymond's I was Dora Suarez (1990)
Great authors know their territory and London is a city with as many dead ends as thoroughfares.

3. New Orleans in James Lee Burke's The Neon Rain (1987)
Burke writes with sweltering, prickling energy that does justice to The Crescent City.

4. Paris in Fred Vargas's Have Mercy On Us All (2001)
Vargas brings alive the neighborhoods that make up the urban life of Paris.

5. Bologna in Barbara Baraldi's The Girl With the Crystal Eyes (2008)
The Gothic is not just in the church design. Here is a dark labyrinth of a town.

6. Brighton in Peter James's Dead Simple (2005)
The city of Brighton, time and again, has been a favorite location of British crime writers, so much so, it gets its own list (below).

7. Miami in Charles Willeford's Miami Blues (1984)
Ah, Miami, a city of combustibles placed under a torch-hot sun.

8. San Francisco in Joe Gores's Spade and Archer (2009)
The Maltese Falcon starts out with Archer's death. Here we get the prequel.

9. Oxford in Colin Dexter's The Dead Of Jericho (1981)
Architectural splendor, tortuous back streets and plenty of murders. For a more nostalgic look at the murderous town of Oxford, try the works of Edmund Crispin.

10. New York in Lawrence Block's Small Town (2003)
New York is an infinite canvas which Block brings to life.

Brighton, Brighton, Brighton.

Back when I did stand-up comedy I told a joke: I once owned a business. You know how they say the three most important things for success are: location, location and location. I had two out of the three. (rim-shot) I didn't say it was a funny joke. 

For crime fiction the three most important words are Brighton, Brighton, Brighton. Here is author Peter James's (mystery author, Brighton-based) list of the top ten books about Brighton, seven of which are mysteries. Again, descriptions beneath the choices are mine.

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
An odd choice. Brighton is only briefly mentioned in the book. "In Lydia’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing-place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention, to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp – its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once."

2. The Clayhanger family novels by Arnold Bennett
Sentimental, nostalgic and fun.

3. The West Pier by Patrick Hamilton
Greene praised Hamilton's book as the best about Brighton.

4. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
All-time-great crime novel by an all-time-great crime novelist.

5. Murder on the Brighton Express by Edward Marston
Murder circa 1854.

6. The Brighton Trilogy by Peter Guttridge
A mystery writer looks at Brighton's criminal past and present.

7. The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave
Another mystery set in Brighton's seamy side.

8. Dirty Weekend by Helen Zahavi
Sex and murder and revenge, oh my.

9. Sugar Rush by Julie Burchill
A YA novel set in Brighton.

10. Brighton Rock Picture Book: The Making of the Boulting Brothers film 1946-8 by Maire McQueeney
Greene's Brighton Rock not only gets a nod as one the best crime novels, but the making of the novel into a film gets an entry.

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Around the World in Mystery, Part Two. And A Contest.

A Drawing for My New Novel. 

I will mail out a hard-cover copy of my new mystery, Never Kill A Friend, to two persons randomly chosen from chosen from among those who drop me an email. The book will be signed and stamped with my "bloody" thumbprint (red ink) - you can't get a better proof of authenticity than that. To qualify, send your name in an email to Selections will be made on Monday at which time I will ask for the winners addresses. Thanks.

Around the World in Mystery, Part Two.

In Part One, I looked at famous mystery writers' recommendations for mysteries written by authors from (or in some instances, mysteries set in) Sweden, Ireland, Africa and Asia. I also included Spain's Carlos Ruiz Zafón's list of best Gothic of the 20th century. 

Today, I will look at Japan. For those who like a bottom line, only five of the mysteries are available in English. For those who primarily read in English, that is enough to get started.

In 1985 and 2012, the Mystery Writers of Japan together with Tozai Magazine put together lists of the 100 Top Mysteries. These lists were divided into "Western" mysteries (those outside of Japan) and Eastern mysteries, those from Japan. Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie fared best in Western mysteries. The following presents the top 10 Japanese mysteries from each of their lists.


1     Gokumon To by Seishi Yokomizo (1949)
The title can be translated as: Gokumon Island. Three sisters are murdered on a small island off the coast of Hiroshima. Stars his famous detective, Kôsuke Kindaichi. Although not available in English translation, it was made into the film, The Devil's Island.
2     Kyomu e no Kumotsu by Hideo Nakai (1964)
The title can be translated as: Signifying Nothing. Not available in English translation.
3     Ten to Sen by Seicho Matsumoto (1958)
Matsumoto mixed conspiracy theories and solid writing to become one of the bestselling Japanese writers. Ten to Sen is available in English translation as: Points and Lines.
4     Furenzoku Satsujin Jiken by Ango Sakaguchi (1948)
Its title can be translated as: A Disconnected Murder. Not available in English translation.
5     Kokushikan Satsujin Jiken by Mushitaro Oguri (1935)
Its title can be translated as: The Black Death Museum Murder. Not available in English translation.
6     Dogura Magura by Kyusaku Yumeno (1935)
Sci-fi, thriller classic about a man who wakes up in an asylum. Translated into French (but not English) and filmed as Dogra Magra.
7     Honjin Satsujin Jiken by Seishi Yokomizo (1947)
Its title can be translated as: Honjin Murder Case. Filmed in 1977 as Death in an Old Mansion. Featuring Detective Kosuki Kindaichi. Not translated into English.
8     Kuroi Toranku by Tetsuya Ayukawa (1956)
Its title can be translated as: Black Trunk. Not translated into English.
9     Modorigawa Shinju by Mikihiko Renjo (short stories) (1980)
Its title can be translated as: Return to Suicide River. Filmed in 1982 and 1983. Not translated into English.
10     Shisei Satsujin Jiken by Akimitsu Takagi (1948)
It is available in English as: The Tattoo Murder Case, a good translation of its title.

2012 An additional five novels made the 2012 top ten list that were not on the 1985 list.

3    Senseijutsu Satsujin Jiken by Soji Shimada (1981)
Available in English translation as The Tokyo Zodiac Murders. Mystery as a puzzle. You are given the clues and need to arrange them to find them the solution.
5     Kasha by Miyuki Miyabe (1992)
Available in English translation as All She Was Worth. Murder and a commentary on consumerism.
7     Dai Yukai by Shin Tendo (1978)
Title can be translated as: A Grand Kidnapping. Not available in English translation.
8     Jukkakukan no Satsujin by Yukito Ayatsuji (1987)
With a nod to And Then There Were None, ten students of mystery convene at a mansion on an isolated island to solve a murder that took place there. Of course, they become the next victims. Available in English translation as The Decagon House Murders.
9     Moryo no Hako by Natsuhiko Kyogoku (1995)
Kidnappings, mysterious institutions and serial murder. Not available in English translation, although the first in the series, Summer of the Ubume, is. 

Part Three: Around The World in Mystery Locations.

Disarming cover art for Honjin Satsujin Jiken.

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

Monday, July 13, 2015

Around the World in Mystery, Part One.

Although American and British authors dominate the (usually) American and British lists of the best crime writing, mystery has an international history with Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (Russian), Simenon's Maigret (Belgian), Leroux's Phantom of the Opera (French), and Rampo's Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Japanese), and Borges complex mysteries/anti-mysteries (Argentinian) being chief among many examples. More recently, Zafón, Eco and Larsson have crossed over to becoming international bestsellers.

The reader who dares to explore the full world of mystery writers is rewarded with new insights and perspectives and experiences a diversity of cultures and landscapes. To read world literature is to sample the best the world has to offer.

Where to start? Below I've assembled several lists from famous authors who advocate for reading the mystery and crime novels from their countries and regions. Other entries are for the best crime novels set in a particular location and those which describe the location best. In a future post, I will look at the best locations in crime novels and those authors who best describe their bloody towns.

Camilla Läckberg: Top 10 Swedish Crime Novels

Swedish mysteries are hot, probably due to global warming. Läckberg is one of the dominant figures in Swedish literature with each of her novels achieving bestseller status. Her list of the best crime novels from her native land.

1. The Mind's Eye by Håkan Nesser
Soulful works with very real characters including the villains.
2. Blackwater by Kerstin Ekman
A bestseller and classic.
3. Missing by Karin Alvtegen
A psychological thriller.
4. Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson
Following the exploits of an amateur detective/tax attorney.
5. The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell
Inspector Wallander has gone on to fame in Swedish and BBC productions.
6. Unseen by Mari Jungstedt
Included because there are not enough crime-solving couples in this world.
7. Shame by Karin Alvtegen
Follows the story of a pair tormented by memories.
8. Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin
A ghost and a mystery.
9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Mystery, sharply-defined characters and action.
10. Midwinter Blood by Mons Kallentoft
A terrific plot.

Brian McGilloway: Top 20 Modern Irish Crime Novels

McGilloway has written two bestselling series, one featuring Inspector Devlin and one featuring Detective Sergeant Lucy Black. His list:

1. The Wrong Kind of Blood by Declan Hughes
The opening: The last time, they'd pressed the sharpened points of their sheath knives into the flesh of their thumbs, and let their blood mingle, and smeared it on each other's foreheads till it looked like burning embers. They were blood brothers for sure then, bound fast as any natural born siblings. But embers turn to ashes and blood doesn't always take.
2. The Guards by Ken Bruen
One of the pioneers of the modern Irish crime novel.
3. Mystery Man by Bateman
Comic romp in a mystery book store.
4. Darkhouse by Alex Barclay
Mixes American and Irish story lines.
5. The Midnight Choir by Gene Kerrigan
Brings a psychological and journalistic insight into his characters.
6. The Big O by Declan Burke
"... recalls Elmore Leonard at his best."
7. Dead I Well May Be by Adrian McKinty
"... hard-boiled Irish noir at its best."
8. Undertow by Arlene Hunt
A dark look at immigrants' plights in modern Ireland.
9. The Anglo-Irish Murders by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Edwards skewers modern Irish politics.
10. In The Woods by Tana French
Hugely popular, a mystery that remains mysterious.

Catherine Sampson: Top 10 Asian Crime Fiction

Sampson lives in Beijing where she has also set her more recent mystery novels. Her list includes both Asian writers and Western writers who set their works in Asia.

1. Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong
Detective Chen investigates a case that threatens to upset Chinese politicians.
2. Playing For Thrills by Wang Shuo
Featuring Chinese punk, Shuo's works are often banned in China.
3. Crime De Sang by He Jiahong
Jiahong delves into the justice and injustice of China's legal system.
4. Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
Organized crime in Bombay.
5. Jack the Ladykiller by HRF Keating
Keating looks at colonial India circa 1935 in this mystery.
6. Out by Natsuo Kirino
The tale of a young woman who murders her husband.
7. All She Was Worth by Miyake Miyabe
Looks at the dark side of Japan consumerism.
8. Inspector Imanishi Investigates by Seicho Matsumoto
A Japanese classic police procedural from the sixties.
9. Murder At Mount Fuji by Shizuko Natsuki
A visiting American and a Japanese detective work together to solve a murder.
10. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
1950s Saigon, before the American disaster.

Michael Stanley: Top 10 African Crime Novels

Michael Stanley, like Ellery Queen, is a pseudonym for a mystery-writing pair, native Africans Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Link.

1. Murder at Government House by Elspeth Huxley
Although remembered mostly for The Flame Trees of Thika, Huxley also wrote mysteries including Murder at Government House which looks at the death of the ruling governor and a web of colonial intrigue.
2. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Although Christie tried her hand at classical Egyptology in other books, this one is a straightforward Poirot mystery.
3. Song Dog by James McClure
McClure examined apartheid South African through mystery tales featuring a black and a white detective.
4. Instruments of Darkness by Robert Wilson
A British ex-pat and a local policeman work together to solve a murder in Benin.
5. The Screaming of the Innocent by Unity Dow
Dow was the first female High Court judge in Botswana and she has written several novels examining justice from an African point of view.
6. The Mission Song by John le Carré
le Carré follows a native African as he uncovers a plot to overthrow the government in Congo.
7. Devils Peak by Deon Meyer
Set in contemporary South Africa, the story follows a man seeking revenge and the detective whose job is to stop him.
8. Blood Rose by Margie Orford
Orford worked as a crime reporter and provides a realism to a grisly tale in modern South Africa.
9. Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
Quartey writes about his native Ghana and the complex tensions that border on violence.
10. Zulu by Caryl Férey
Férey also turned his talents to writing about South Africa and how the apartheid history continues to destroy the present day.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón: Best Gothic of the 20th Century.

Zafón writes Southern Gothic: i.e, set in southern Spain. His novel Shadow of the Wind is the best-selling Spanish novel since Don Quixote (a fact which I did not know) and a great read (which I do know). Beneath each entry is a quote from his descriptions each of which was direct and vivid. This is an international list in only a limited sense: one selection is from Sweden, three from England and the rest from the United States; however, you can also add
Zafón to your reading list.
1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
"Jackson's writings are a must for aficionados of the gothic and of good literature."
2. Mysteries of Winterthurn by Joyce Carol Oates
"Life is short, so kill your TV now and start exploring her universe."
3. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
". . .it has always been regarded suspiciously and considered a minor work. It is not."
4.  Double Indemnity by James M Cain
"Lean, mean and dazzling."
5. Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg
"If you ask me, this novel is the best mystery thriller ever written."
6. The Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake
"Dark, dense, baroque and hauntingly beautiful."
7. Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
". . . one of the most interesting and promising writers to appear in the last few years in any genre."
8. Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories by Angela Carter
"A treasure chest of wonderfully wicked stories..."
9. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
"A modern-day Dickens with a popular voice. . ."
10. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
"... a fresh, powerful and brutally honest reinvention of the vampire novel."

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

Friday, July 10, 2015

True Crime and Historical Crime Fiction. Top 10 Lists from McCreet, Graeber and Peace.

Today, some forays into historical and true crime writing courtesy The Guardian. By following the links you can read extended descriptions of their books advocating for its place on the list. For copyright reasons, I shortened these to thumbnails.

James McCreet: Victorian Crime 

McCreet writes well-researched historical mystery fiction set in the Victorian era. How can you ask for anything better? Here are his Top 10 Victorian Detective Stories (and resources).

1. On Murder by Thomas de Quincey
Detective fiction that predates Poe.
2. The Mystery of Marie Roget by Edgar Allan Poe
Billed as the sequel to the Murders in Rue Morgue, Poe tackles a real-life crime.
3. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
In one of his several nods to the genre of mystery, Dickens introduces Inspector Bucket.
4. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale
Another Victorian author tackles a true crime. 
5. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Helped establish the mystery novel genre.
6. Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner by Henry Goddard
True Victorian crime by a real Victorian detective.
7. London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew
Interviews with Victorian criminals.
8. Fingerprints by Douglas G Browne
An early forensic text.
9. A Dictionary of Victorian London by Lee Jackson
and 10. Victorian London by Liza Picard
Two guides to understanding Victorian London.

Charles Graeber: True Crime.

The New York Times Book Review compared Graeber's The Good Nurse (favorably) to In Cold Blood. Here is a list of his top ten true crime books.

1. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, by Jon Krakauer
2. All the President's Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
3. Columbine, by Dave Cullen
4. Blood and Money, by Thomas Thompson
5. The Executioner's Song, by Norman Mailer
6. The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy, the Shocking Inside Story, by Anne Rule
7. Homicide: a year on the Killing Streets, by David Simon
8. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry
9. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
10. People Who Eat Darkness: the Fate of Lucie Blackman, by Richard Lloyd Parry

David Peace: British True Crime.

David Peace is described in the Guardian article as a writer of "ultra-noir." An apt description, his works pack the punch of a sledgehammer. His top 10 true crime books.

1. Beyond Belief by Emlyn Williams
An account of the Moors Murders case.
2. Somebody's Husband, Somebody's Son by Gordon Burn
"Gordon Burn is the best British writer there is."
3. Killing for Company by Brian Masters
The Dennis Nilsen case.
4. The Streetcleaner by Nicole Ward Jouve
The Yorkshire Ripper.
5. Error of Judgement by Chris Mullin
Exposing the true story of the Birmingham Bombings.
6. State of Siege by Jim Coulter, Susan Miller and Martin Walker.
The miners' strike of 1984-85.
7. Who Framed Colin Wallace? by Paul Foot
The author tackles a wrongful conviction.
8. Smear! by Stephen Dorril and Robin Ramsay
The behind the scenes story of the secret destruction of Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
9. The Terrorism Trilogy by Martin Dillon
The Shankill Butchers, God and the Gun, and The Dirty War.
10. Bloody Valentine by John Williams
The death of a Cardiff prostitute.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

And Now For Some Fun: Mystery Games on the Web

Below are links to some mystery games, many quizzes, some of them trivia. The quality of these can vary. Sometimes the answers require an unfair exactness or mind-reading, e.g., Sherlock Holmes sidekick: Dr. John H. Watson. (Not John Watson or Doctor Watson. Other times the trivia quiz creator was more generous in allowing alternate answers. I've tried to present the best up front and for those desperate for more, they can follow the links to further games. (Note: the term mystery gets used for a number of purposes in these quizzes, such as Who is this mystery actor? when his identity is a mystery, not that he had a career in mysteries.)

At Sporcle, they have a variety of mystery quizzes. (They have some wonderful quizzes in other fields, if you enjoy challenges). Some of their most popular mystery quizzes are:

Fill in the blank, name of famous mystery, author given.
For example:  Study in _____ Conan Doyle

Another fill in the blank of famous mysteries.

Here you are asked to unscramble the title of Agatha Christie works.

Sherlock Holmes Trivia Game - with a current BBC show emphasis

The quiz "101 Crime Novels" gives you ten minutes to fill in the names of the 101 best crime novels as determined by the Mystery Writers of America. Just typing their names in ten minutes is a challenge.

You can match up murderers to works of literature. 

Here you name the mystery/thriller author given the first letter and a clue.

For fans of Sue Grafton and the alphabet in general, A is for ____?

On a more serious note, you are asked to fill in the ten most common murder weapons (US) or murders/assassinations to the cities where they took place. 

Sporcle has many more mystery quizzes, including some submitted by readers which are of a lesser quality. 

Games and quizzes from other sites include:

I found "Know Your Noir" to be diverting. The goal is to identify 20 noir films using single iconic shots.

How Well Do You Know These Famous Women Authors?
In my case, not well enough.

Hitchcock, Christie and Conan Doyle are the subject of this ten question trivia quiz.

There are other mystery games, such as the "Solve This Mystery" variety, sometimes contrived, always an acquired taste. A good example is:

Can You Solve This Mystery?

If you want to sort among a variety of games that call themselves mystery or have a mystery theme (which noir character are you?) here is the general link to the playbuzz site. 

 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

Monday, July 6, 2015

John Dufresne, Tana French, S. J. Rozan and Sandra Brown Choose Their Favorites.

John Dufresne

Dufresne, author of the neo-noir, No Regrets, Coyote, and whose all-time favorite books made up a previous list, has provided me with an exclusive list of his favorite mysteries.

Miami Blues by Charles Williford
Smilla’s Sense of Snow by
Peter Høeg
True Confessions by John Gregory Dunne
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
A Study in Scarlet by A. Conan Doyle

Tana French

French hit the ground running with her Edgar-Award winning In the Woods, one of the best recent mysteries. Books which have influenced her, from an interview at BookBrowse.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

S.J. Rozan

Rozan writes traditional and lambent-prosed mysteries featuring the gumshoes, Lydia Chin and Bill Smith.

"S. J. Rozan Recommends" from an interview at Indiebound:

The Constant Gardener by John le Carré
Rose and Havana Bay by Martin Cruz Smith
"Anything" by P.D. James
King Suckerman by George Pelecanos
The Night Men by Keith Snyder
A Free Man of Color, Fever Season and Die Upon a Kiss by Barbara Hambly.

Sandra Brown

Brown has been a reporter, a TV weather forecaster, a model and, luckily for us, an author of mystery and romance novels. Her five favorite books from a GoodReads interview.

Mila 18 by Leon Uris
Testimony of Two Men by Taylor Caldwell
Jane Eyre by  Charlotte Brontë
The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

 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.
 The eleventh post: Stephen King. (With links to his favorite short stories.)
 The twelfth post: James Lee Burke, Carl Hiaasen, and Scott Turow.

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

Thursday, July 2, 2015

James Lee Burke, Carl Hiaasen and Scott Turow: More mystery writers choose their favorite books.

Today's lists are from J. Peder Zane's The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books.

James Lee Burke

Burke's 1989 Black Cherry Blues won him an Edgar for best mystery novel and appears on a number of all-time best mystery lists. He has also won an Edgar for Cimmaron Rose (1997) and an MWA Grand Master Award recognizing his career.

1. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929).
2. Dubliners by James Joyce (1916).
3. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940).
4. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946). I
5. The stories of Flannery O’Connor (1925–64).
6. The stories of Andre Dubus (1936–99).
7. Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (1941).
8. The Big Sky by A. B. Guthrie, Jr. (1947).
9. The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham (1919).
10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925).

Carl Hiaasen

The comedian Ed Wynn, on his deathbed, was asked whether dying was hard. He answered, "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." With a great humorous-mystery writer like Hiaasen, you get a whole lot of death and comedy. What could be better?

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1962).
2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884).
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (1951).
4. The Comedians by Graham Greene (1966).
5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969).
6. Stories of Franz Kafka (1883–1924).
7. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939).
8. Ninety-Two in the Shade by Thomas McGuane (1973).
9. Stories of Flannery O'Connor (1925–64).
10. Money by Martin Amis (1984).

Scott Turow

Turow burst on to the scene in 1987 with Presumed Innocence a novel that nearly single-handedly transformed/invigorated the legal mystery subgenre. Cumulatively, his novels have sold over 30 million copies.

1. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (1916).
2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).
3. Rabbit Angstrom - Rabbit, Run (1960), Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit Is Rich (1981), Rabbit at Rest (1990) by John Updike.
4. Herzog by Saul Bellow (1964).
5. Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen (1961).
6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844).
7. The Works of William Shakespeare (1564-1616).
8. The Bear by William Faulkner (1942).
9. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1934).
10. The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (1932).

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.
 The eleventh post: Stephen King. (With links to his favorite short stories.)

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

Champion by Ring Lardner

In order to fill out the available short stories collected in The Golden Argosy, I present Champion by Ring Lardner. Published in October, 1916, Metropolitan magazine, this is a cynical tale of a sports hero who has virtually no redeeming values. It is told in Lardner's slangy and streetwise voice.


Midge Kelly scored his first knockout when he was seventeen. The knockee was his brother Connie, three years his junior and a cripple. The purse was a half dollar given to the younger Kelly by a lady whose electric had just missed bumping his soul from his frail little body.

Connie did not know Midge was in the house, else he never would have risked laying the prize on the arm of the least comfortable chair in the room, the better to observe its shining beauty. As Midge entered from the kitchen, the crippled boy covered the coin with his hand, but the movement lacked the speed requisite to escape his brother's quick eye.

"Watcha got there?" demanded Midge.

"Nothin'," said Connie.

"You're a one legged liar!" said Midge.

He strode over to his brother's chair and grasped the hand that concealed the coin.

"Let loose!" he ordered.

Connie began to cry.

"Let loose and shut up your noise," said the elder, and jerked his brother's hand from the chair arm.

The coin fell onto the bare floor. Midge pounced on it. His weak mouth widened in a triumphant smile.

"Nothin', huh?" he said. "All right, if it's nothin' you don't want it."

"Give that back," sobbed the younger.

"I'll give you a red nose, you little sneak! Where'd you steal it?"

"I didn't steal it. It's mine. A lady give it to me after she pretty near hit me with a car."

"It's a crime she missed you," said Midge.

Midge started for the front door. The cripple picked up his crutch, rose from his chair with difficulty, and, still sobbing, came toward Midge. The latter heard him and stopped.

"You better stay where you're at," he said.

"I want my money," cried the boy.

"I know what you want," said Midge.

Doubling up the fist that held the half dollar, he landed with all his strength on his brother's mouth. Connie fell to the floor with a thud, the crutch tumbling on top of him. Midge stood beside the prostrate form.

"Is that enough?" he said. "Or do you want this, too?"

And he kicked him in the crippled leg.

"I guess that'll hold you," he said.

There was no response from the boy on the floor. Midge looked at him a moment, then at the coin in his hand, and then went out into the street, whistling.

An hour later, when Mrs. Kelly came home from her day's work at Faulkner's Steam Laundry, she found Connie on the floor, moaning. Dropping on her knees beside him, she called him by name a score of times. Then she got up and, pale as a ghost, dashed from the house. Dr. Ryan left the Kelly abode about dusk and walked toward Halsted Street. Mrs. Dorgan spied him as he passed her gate.

"Who's sick, Doctor?" she called.

"Poor little Connie," he replied. "He had a bad fall."

"How did it happen?"

"I can't say for sure, Margaret, but I'd almost bet he was knocked down."

"Knocked down!" exclaimed Mrs. Dorgan.

"Why, who -- -- ?"

"Have you seen the other one lately?"

"Michael? No, not since mornin'. You can't be thinkin' -- -- "

"I wouldn't put it past him, Margaret," said the doctor gravely. "The lad's mouth is swollen and cut, and his poor, skinny little leg is bruised. He surely didn't do it to himself and I think Helen suspects the other one."

"Lord save us!" said Mrs. Dorgan. "I'll run over and see if I can help."

"That's a good woman," said Doctor Ryan, and went on down the street.

Near midnight, when Midge came home, his mother was sitting at Connie's bedside. She did not look up.

"Well," said Midge, "what's the matter?"

She remained silent. Midge repeated his question.

"Michael, you know what's the matter," she said at length.

"I don't know nothin," said Midge.

"Don't lie to me, Michael. What did you do to your brother?"


"You hit him."

"Well, then, I hit him. What of it? It ain't the first time."

Her lips pressed tightly together, her face like chalk, Ellen Kelly rose from her chair and made straight for him. Midge backed against the door.

"Lay off'n me, Ma. I don't want to fight no woman."

Still she came on breathing heavily.

"Stop where you're at, Ma," he warned.

There was a brief struggle and Midge's mother lay on the floor before him.

"You ain't hurt, Ma. You're lucky I didn't land good. And I told you to lay off'n me."

"God forgive you, Michael!"

Midge found Hap Collins in the showdown game at the Royal.

"Come on out a minute," he said.

Hap followed him out on the walk.

"I'm leavin' town for a w'ile," said Midge.

"What for?"

"Well, we had a little run-in up to the house. The kid stole a half buck off'n me, and when I went after it he cracked me with his crutch. So I nailed him. And the old lady came at me with a chair and I took it off'n her and she fell down."

"How is Connie hurt?"

"Not bad."

"What are you runnin' away for?"

"Who the hell said I was runnin' away? I'm sick and tired o' gettin' picked on; that's all. So I'm leavin' for a w'ile and I want a piece o' money."

"I ain't only got six bits," said Happy.

"You're in bad shape, ain't you? Well, come through with it."

Happy came through.

"You oughtn't to hit the kid," he said.

"I ain't astin' you who can I hit," snarled Midge. "You try to put somethin' over on me and you'll get the same dose. I'm goin' now."

"Go as far as you like," said Happy, but not until he was sure that Kelly was out of hearing.

Early the following morning, Midge boarded a train for Milwaukee. He had no ticket, but no one knew the difference. The conductor remained in the caboose.

On a night six months later, Midge hurried out of the "stage door" of the Star Boxing Club and made for Duane's saloon, two blocks away. In his pocket were twelve dollars, his reward for having battered up one Demon Dempsey through the six rounds of the first preliminary.

It was Midge's first professional engagement in the manly art. Also it was the first time in weeks that he had earned twelve dollars.

On the way to Duane's he had to pass Niemann's. He pulled his cap over his eyes and increased his pace until he had gone by. Inside Niemann's stood a trusting bartender, who for ten days had staked Midge to drinks and allowed him to ravage the lunch on a promise to come in and settle the moment he was paid for the "prelim."

Midge strode into Duane's and aroused the napping bartender by slapping a silver dollar on the festive board.

"Gimme a shot," said Midge.

The shooting continued until the wind-up at the Star was over and part of the fight crowd joined Midge in front of Duane's bar. A youth in the early twenties, standing next to young Kelly, finally summoned sufficient courage to address him.

"Wasn't you in the first bout?" he ventured.

"Yeh," Midge replied.

"My name's Hersch," said the other.

Midge received the startling information in silence.

"I don't want to butt in," continued Mr. Hersch, "but I'd like to buy you a drink."

"All right," said Midge, "but don't overstrain yourself."

Mr. Hersch laughed uproariously and beckoned to the bartender.

"You certainly gave that wop a trimmin' to-night," said the buyer of the drink, when they had been served. "I thought you'd kill him."

"I would if I hadn't let up," Midge replied. "I'll kill 'em all."

"You got the wallop all right," the other said admiringly.

"Have I got the wallop?" said Midge. "Say, I can kick like a mule. Did you notice them muscles in my shoulders?"

"Notice 'em? I couldn't help from notion' 'em," said Hersch. "I says to the fella settin' alongside o' me, I says: 'Look at them shoulders! No wonder he can hit,' I says to him."

"Just let me land and it's good-by, baby," said Midge. "I'll kill 'em all."

The oral manslaughter continued until Duane's closed for the night. At parting, Midge and his new friend shook hands and arranged for a meeting the following evening.

For nearly a week the two were together almost constantly. It was Hersch's pleasant role to listen to Midge's modest revelations concerning himself, and to buy every time Midge's glass was empty. But there came an evening when Hersch regretfully announced that he must go home to supper.

"I got a date for eight bells," he confided. "I could stick till then, only I must clean up and put on the Sunday clo'es, 'cause she's the prettiest little thing in Milwaukee."

"Can't you fix it for two?" asked Midge.

"I don't know who to get," Hersch replied. "Wait, though. I got a sister and if she ain't busy, it'll be O.K. She's no bum for looks herself."

So it came about that Midge and Emma Hersch and Emma's brother and the prettiest little thing in Milwaukee foregathered at Wall's and danced half the night away. And Midge and Emma danced every dance together, for though every little onestep seemed to induce a new thirst of its own, Lou Hersch stayed too sober to dance with his own sister.

The next day, penniless at last in spite of his phenomenal ability to make someone else settle, Midge Kelly sought out Doc Hammond, matchmaker for the Star, and asked to be booked for the next show.

"I could put you on with Tracy for the next bout," said Doc.

"What's they in it?" asked Midge.

"Twenty if you cop," Doc told him.

"Have a heart," protested Midge. "Didn't I look good the other night?"

"You looked all right. But you aren't Freddie Welsh yet by a consid'able margin."

"I ain't scared of Freddie Welsh or none of 'em," said Midge.

"Well, we don't pay our boxers by the size of their chests," Doc said. "I'm offerin' you this Tracy bout. Take it or leave it."

"All right; I'm on," said Midge, and he passed a pleasant afternoon at Duane's on the strength of his booking.

Young Tracy's manager came to Midge the night before the show.

"How do you feel about this go?" he asked.

"Me?" said Midge. "I feel all right. What do you mean, how do I feel?"

"I mean," said Tracy's manager, "that we're mighty anxious to win, 'cause the boy's got a chanct in Philly if he cops this one."

"What's your proposition?" asked Midge.

"Fifty bucks," said Tracy's manager.

"What do you think I am, a crook? Me lay down for fifty bucks. Not me!"

"Seventy-five, then," said Tracy's manager.

The market closed on eighty and the details were agreed on in short order. And the next night Midge was stopped in the second round by a terrific slap on the forearm.

This time Midge passed up both Niemann's and Duane's, having a sizable account at each place, and sought his refreshment at Stein's farther down the street.

When the profits of his deal with Tracy were gone, he learned, by first-hand information from Doc Hammond and the matchmakers at the other "clubs," that he was no longer desired for even the cheapest of preliminaries. There was no danger of his starving or dying of thirst while Emma and Lou Hersch lived. But he made up his mind, four months after his defeat by Young Tracy, that Milwaukee was not the ideal place for him to live.

"I can lick the best of 'em," he reasoned, "but there ain't no more chanct for me here. I can maybe go east and get on somewheres. And besides ----"

But just after Midge had purchased a ticket to Chicago with the money he had "borrowed" from Emma Hersch "to buy shoes," a heavy hand was laid on his shoulders and he turned to face two strangers.

"Where are you goin' Kelly?" inquired the owner of the heavy hand.

"Nowheres," said Midge. "What the hell do you care?"

The other stranger spoke:

"Kelly, I'm employed by Emma Hersch's mother to see that you do right by her. And we want you to stay here till you've done it."

"You won't get nothin' but the worst of it, monkeying with me," said Midge.

Nevertheless, he did not depart for Chicago that night. Two days later, Emma Hersch became Mrs. Kelly, and the gift of the groom, when once they were alone, was a crushing blow on the bride's pale cheek.

Next morning, Midge left Milwaukee as he had entered it -- by fast freight.

"They's no use kiddin' ourself any more," said Tommy Haley. "He might get down to thirty-seven in a pinch, but if he done below that a mouse could stop him. He's a welter; that's what he is and he knows it as well as I do. He's growed like a weed in the last six mont's. I told him, I says, If you don't quit growin' they won't be nobody for you to box, only Willard and them.' He says, 'Well, I wouldn't run away from Willard if I weighed twenty pounds more."

"He must hate himself," said Tommy's brother.

"I never seen a good one that didn't," said Tommy. "And Midge is a good one; don't make no mistake about that. I wisht we could of got Welsh before the kid growed so big. But it's too late now. I won't make no holler, though, if we can match him up with the Dutchman."

"Who do you mean?"

"Young Goetz, the welter champ. We mightn't not get so much dough for the bout itself, but it'd roll in afterward. What a drawin' card we'd be, 'cause the people pays their money to see the fella with the wallop, and that's Midge. And we'd keep the title just as long as Midge could make the weight."

"Can't you land no match with Goetz?"

"Sure, 'cause he needs the money. But I've went careful with the kid so far and look at the results I got! So what's the use of takin' a chanct? The kid's comin' every minute and Goetz is goin' back faster'n big Johnson did. I think we could lick him now; I'd bet my life on it. But six mont's from now they won't be no risk. He'll of licked hisself before that time. Then all as we'll have to do is sign up with him and wait for the referee to stop it. But Midge is so crazy to get at him now that I can't hardly hold him back."

The brothers Haley were lunching in a Boston hotel. Dan had come down from Holyoke to visit with Tommy and to watch the latter's protege go twelve rounds, or less, with Bud Cross. The bout promised little in the way of a contest, for Midge had twice stopped the Baltimore youth and Bud's reputation for gameness was all that had earned him the date. The fans were willing to pay the price to see Midge's hay-making left, but they wanted to see it used on an opponent who would not jump out of the ring the first time he felt its crushing force. Bud Cross was such an opponent, and his willingness to stop boxing-gloves with his eyes, ears, nose and throat had long enabled him to escape the horrors of honest labor. A game boy was Bud, and he showed it in his battered, swollen, discolored face.

"I should think," said Dan Haley, "that the kid'd do whatever you tell him after all you done for him."

"Well," said Tommy, "he's took my dope pretty straight so far, but he's so sure of hisself that he can't see no reason for waitin'. He'll do what I say, though; he'd be a sucker not to."

"You got a contrac' with him?"

"No, I don't need no contrac'. He knows it was me that drug him out o' the gutter and he ain't goin' to turn me down now, when he's got the dough and bound to get more. Where'd he of been at if I hadn't listened to him when he first come to me? That's pretty near two years ago now, but it seems like last week. I was settin' in the s'loon acrost from the Pleasant Club in Philly, waitin' for McCann to count the dough and come over, when this little bum blowed in and tried to stand the house off for a drink. They told him nothin' doin' and to beat it out o' there, and then he seen me and come over to where I was settin' and ast me wasn't I a boxin' man and I told him who I was. Then he ast me for money to buy a shot and I told him to set down and I'd buy it for him.

"Then we got talkin' things over and he told me his name and told me about fightin' a couple o' prelims out to Milwaukee. So I says, 'Well, boy, I don't know how good or how rotten you are, but you won't never get nowheres trainin' on that stuff.' So he says he'd cut it out if he could get on in a bout and I says I would give him a chanct if he played square with me and didn't touch no more to drink. So we shook hands and I took him up to the hotel with me and give him a bath and the next day I bought him some clo'es. And I staked him to eats and sleeps for over six weeks. He had a hard time breakin' away from the polish, but finally I thought he was fit and I give him his chanct. He went on with Smiley Sayer and stopped him so quick that Smiley thought sure he was poisoned.

"Well, you know what he's did since. The only beatin' in his record was by Tracy in Milwaukee before I got hold of him, and he's licked Tracy three times in the last year.

"I've gave him all the best of it in a money way and he's got seven thousand bucks in cold storage. How's that for a kid that was in the gutter two years ago? And he'd have still more yet if he wasn't so nuts over clo'es and got to stop at the good hotels and so forth."

"Where's his home at?"

"Well, he ain't really got no home. He came from Chicago and his mother canned him out o' the house for bein' no good. She give him a raw deal, I guess, and he says he won't have nothin' to do with her unlest she comes to him first. She's got a pile o' money, he says, so he ain't worryin' about her."

The gentleman under discussion entered the cafe and swaggered to Tommy's table, while the whole room turned to look.

Midge was the picture of health despite a slightly colored eye and an ear that seemed to have no opening. But perhaps it was not his healthiness that drew all eyes. His diamond horse-shoe tie pin, his purple cross-striped shirt, his orange shoes and his light blue suit fairly screamed for attention.

"Where you been?" he asked Tommy. "I been lookin' all over for you."

"Set down," said his manager.

"No time," said Midge. "I'm goin' down to the w'arf and see 'em unload the fish."

"Shake hands with my brother Dan," said Tommy.

Midge shook with the Holyoke Haley.

"If you're Tommy's brother, you're O. K. with me," said Midge, and the brothers beamed with pleasure.

Dan moistened his lips and murmured an embarrassed reply, but it was lost on the young gladiator.

"Leave me take twenty," Midge was saying. "I prob'ly won't need it, but I don't like to be caught short."

Tommy parted with a twenty dollar bill and recorded the transaction in a small black book the insurance company had given him for Christmas.

"But," he said, "it won't cost you no twenty to look at them fish. Want me to go along?"

"No," said Midge hastily. "You and your brother here prob'ly got a lot to say to each other."

"Well," said Tommy, "don't take no bad money and don't get lost. And you better be back at four o'clock and lay down a w'ile."

"I don't need no rest to beat this guy," said Midge. "He'll do enough layin' down for the both of us."

And laughing even more than the jest called for, he strode out through the fire of admiring and startled glances.

The corner of Boylston and Tremont was the nearest Midge got to the wharf, but the lady awaiting him was doubtless a more dazzling sight than the catch of the luckiest Massachusetts fisherman. She could talk, too—probably better than the fish.

"O you Kid!" she said, flashing a few silver teeth among the gold. "O you fighting man!"

Midge smiled up at her.

"We'll go somewheres and get a drink," he said. "One won't hurt."

In New Orleans, five months after he had rearranged the map of Bud Cross for the third time, Midge finished training for his championship bout with the Dutchman.

Back in his hotel after the final workout, Midge stopped to chat with some of the boys from up north, who had made the long trip to see a champion dethroned, for the result of this bout was so nearly a foregone conclusion that even the experts had guessed it.

Tommy Haley secured the key and the mail and ascended to the Kelly suite. He was bathing when Midge came in, half hour later.

"Any mail?" asked Midge.

"There on the bed," replied Tommy from the tub.

Midge picked up the stack of letters and post-cards and glanced them over. From the pile he sorted out three letters and laid them on the table. The rest he tossed into the waste-basket. Then he picked up the three and sat for a few moments holding them, while his eyes gazed off into space. At length he looked again at the three unopened letters in his hand; then he put one in his pocket and tossed the other two at the basket. They missed their target and fell on the floor.

"Hell!" said Midge, and stooping over picked them up.

He opened one postmarked Milwaukee and read:


    I have wrote to you so manny times and got no anser and I dont know if you ever got them, so I am writeing again in the hopes you will get this letter and anser. I dont like to bother you with my trubles and I would not only for the baby and I am not asking you should write to me but only send a little money and I am not asking for myself but the baby has not been well a day sence last Aug. and the dr. told me she cant live much longer unless I give her better food and thats impossible the way things are. Lou has not been working for a year and what I make dont hardley pay for the rent. I am not asking for you to give me any money, but only you should send what I loaned when convenient and I think it amts. to about $36.00. Please try and send that amt. and it will help me, but if you cant send the whole amt. try and send me something.

    Your wife,

Midge tore the letter into a hundred pieces and scattered them over the floor.

"Money, money, money!" he said. "They must think I'm made o' money. I s'pose the old woman's after it too."

He opened his mother's letter:

    dear Michael Connie wonted me to rite and say you must beet the dutchman and he is sur you will and wonted me to say we wont you to rite and tell us about it, but I gess you havent no time to rite or we herd from you long beffore this but I wish you would rite jest a line or 2 boy becaus it wuld be better for Connie than a barl of medisin. It wuld help me to keep things going if you send me money now and then when you can spair it but if you cant send no money try and fine time to rite a letter onley a few lines and it will please Connie, jest think boy he hasent got out of bed in over 3 yrs. Connie says good luck.

    Your Mother,

"I thought so," said Midge. "They're all alike." The third letter was from New York. It read:

    Hon: -- This is the last letter you will get from me before your champ, but I will send you a telegram Saturday, but I can't say as much in a telegram as in a letter and I am writeing this to Jet you know I am thinking of you and praying for good luck.

    Lick him good hon and don't wait no longer than you have to and don't forget to wire me as soon as its over. Give him that little old left of yours on the nose hon and don't be afraid of spoiling his good looks because he couldn't be no homlier than he is. But don't let him spoil my baby's pretty face. You won't will you hon.

    Well hon I would give anything to be there and see it, but I guess you love Haley better than me or you wouldn't let him keep me away. But when your champ hon we can do as we please and tell Haley to go to the devil.

    Well hon I will send you a telegram Saturday and I almost forgot to tell you I will need some more money, a couple hundred say and you will have to wire it to me as soon as you get this. You will won't you hon.

    I will send you a telegram Saturday and remember hon I am pulling for you.

    Well good-by sweetheart and good luck.


"They're all alike," said Midge. "Money, money, money."

Tommy Haley, shining from his ablutions, came in from the adjoining room.

"Thought you'd be layin' down," he said.

"I'm goin' to," said Midge, unbuttoning his orange shoes.

"I'll call you at six and you can eat up here without no bugs to pester you. I got to go down and give them birds their tickets.''

"Did you hear from Goldberg?" asked Midge.

"Didn't I tell you? Sure; fifteen weeks at five hundred, if we win. And we can get a guarantee o' twelve thousand, with privileges either in New York or Milwaukee."

"Who with?"

"Anybody that'll stand up in front of you. You don't care who it is, do you?"

"Not me. I'll make 'em all look like a monkey."

"Well you better lay down a w'ile."

"Oh, say, wire two hundred to Grace for me, will you? Right away; the New York address."

"Two hundred! You just sent her three hundred last Sunday."

"Well, what the hell do you care?"

"All right, all right. Don't get sore about it. Anything else?"

"That's all," said Midge, and dropped onto the bed.

"And I want the deed done before I come back," said Grace as she rose from the table. "You won't fall down on me, will you, hon?"

"Leave it to me," said Midge. "And don't spend no more than you have to."

Grace smiled a farewell and left the cafe. Midge continued to sip his coffee and read his paper.

They were in Chicago and they were in the middle of Midge's first week in vaudeville. He had come straight north to reap the rewards of his glorious victory over the broken down Dutchman. A fortnight had been spent in learning his act, which consisted of a gymnastic exhibition and a ten minutes' monologue on the various excellences of Midge Kelly. And now he was twice daily turning 'em away from the Madison Theater.

His breakfast over and his paper read, Midge sauntered into the lobby and asked for his key. He then beckoned to a bell-boy, who had been hoping for that very honor.

"Find Haley, Tommy Haley," said Midge. "Tell him to come up to my room."

"Yes, sir, Mr. Kelly," said the boy, and proceeded to break all his former records for diligence.

Midge was looking out of his seventh-story window when Tommy answered the summons.

"What'll it be?" inquired his manager.

There was a pause before Midge replied.

"Haley," he said, "twenty-five per cent's a whole lot o' money."

"I guess I got it comin', ain't I?" said Tommy.

"I don't see how you figger it. I don't see where you're worth it to me."

"Well," said Tommy, "I didn't expect nothin' like this. I thought you was satisfied with the bargain. I don't want to beat nobody out o' nothin', but I don't see where you could have got anybody else that would of did all I done for you."

"Sure, that's all right," said the champion. "You done a lot for me in Philly. And you got good money for it, didn't you?"

"I ain't makin' no holler. Still and all, the big money's still ahead of us yet. And if it hadn't of been for me, you wouldn't of never got within grabbin' distance."

"Oh, I guess I could of went along all right," said Midge. "Who was it that hung that left on the Dutchman's jaw, me or you?"

"Yes, but you wouldn't been in the ring with the Dutchman if it wasn't for how I handled you."

"Well, this won't get us nowheres. The idear is that you ain't worth no twenty-five per cent now and it don't make no diff'rence what come off a year or two ago."

"Don't it?" said Tommy. "I'd say it made a whole lot of difference."

"Well, I say it don't and I guess that settles it."

"Look here, Midge," Tommy said, "I thought I was fair with you, but if you don't think so, I'm willin' to hear what you think is fair. I don't want nobody callin' me a Sherlock. Let's go down to business and sign up a contrac'. What's your figger?"

"I ain't namin' no figger," Midge replied. "I'm sayin' that twenty-five's too much. Now what are you willin' to take?"

"How about twenty?"

"Twenty's too much," said Kelly.

"What ain't too much?" asked Tommy.

"Well, Haley, I might as well give it to you straight. They ain't nothin' that ain't too much."

"You mean you don't want me at no figger?"

"That's the idear."

There was a minute's silence. Then Tommy Haley walked toward the door.

"Midge," he said, in a choking voice, "you're makin' a big mistake, boy. You can't throw down your best friends and get away with it. That damn woman will ruin you."

Midge sprang from his seat.

"You shut your mouth!" he stormed. "Get out o' here before they have to carry you out. You been spongin' off o' me long enough. Say one more word about the girl or about anything else and you'll get what the Dutchman got. Now get out!"

And Tommy Haley, having a very vivid memory of the Dutchman's face as he fell, got out.

Grace came in later, dropped her numerous bundles on the lounge and perched herself on the arm of Midge's chair.

"Well?" she said.

"Well," said Midge, "I got rid of him."

"Good boy!" said Grace. "And now I think you might give me that twenty-five per cent."

"Besides the seventy-five you're already gettin'?" said Midge.

"Don't be no grouch, hon. You don't look pretty when you're grouchy."

"It ain't my business to look pretty," Midge replied.

"Wait till you see how I look with the stuff I bought this mornin'!"

Midge glanced at the bundles on the lounge.

"There's Haley's twenty-five per cent," he said, "and then some."

The champion did not remain long without a manager. Haley's successor was none other than Jerome Harris, who saw in Midge a better meal ticket than his popular-priced musical show had been.

The contract, giving Mr. Harris twenty-five per cent of Midge's earnings, was signed in Detroit the week after Tommy Haley had heard his dismissal read. It had taken Midge just six days to learn that a popular actor cannot get on without the ministrations of a man who thinks, talks and means business. At first Grace objected to the new member of the firm, but when Mr. Harris had demanded and secured from the vaudeville people a one-hundred dollar increase in Midge's weekly stipend, she was convinced that the champion had acted for the best.

"You and my missus will have some great old times," Harris told Grace. "I'd of wired her to join us here, only I seen the Kid's bookin' takes us to Milwaukee next week, and that's where she is."

But when they were introduced in the Milwaukee hotel, Grace admitted to herself that her feeling for Mrs. Harris could hardly be called love at first sight. Midge, on the contrary, gave his new manager's wife the many times over and seemed loath to end the feast of his eyes.

"Some doll," he said to Grace when they were alone.

"Doll is right," the lady replied, "and sawdust where her brains ought to be."

"I'm li'ble to steal that baby," said Midge, and he smiled as he noted the effect of his words on his audience's face.

On Tuesday of the Milwaukee week the champion successfully defended his title in a bout that the newspapers never reported. Midge was alone in his room that morning when a visitor entered without knocking. The visitor was Lou Hersch.

Midge turned white at sight of him.

"What do you want?" he demanded.

"I guess you know," said Lou Hersch. "Your wife's starvin' to death and your baby's starvin' to death and I'm starvin' to death. And you're dirty with money."

"Listen," said Midge, "if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't never saw your sister. And, if you ain't man enough to hold a job, what's that to me? The best thing you can do is keep away from me."

"You give me a piece o' money and I'll go."

Midge's reply to the ultimatum was a straight right to his brother-in-law's narrow chest.

"Take that home to your sister."

And after Lou Hersch had picked himself up and slunk away, Midge thought: "It's lucky I didn't give him my left or I'd of croaked him. And if I'd hit him in the stomach, I'd of broke his spine."

There was a party after each evening performance during the Milwaukee engagement. The wine flowed freely and Midge had more of it than Tommy Haley ever would have permitted him. Mr. Harris offered no objection, which was possibly just as well for his own physical comfort.

In the dancing between drinks, Midge had his new manager's wife for a partner as often as Grace. The latter's face, as she floundered round in the arms of the portly Harris, belied her frequent protestations that she was having the time of her life.

Several times that week, Midge thought Grace was on the point of starting the quarrel he hoped to have. But it was not until Friday night that she accommodated. He and Mrs. Harris had disappeared after the matinee and when Grace saw him again at the close of the night show, she came to the point at once.

"What are you tryin' to pull off?" she demanded.

"It's none o' your business, is it?" said Midge.

"You bet it's my business; mine and Harris's. You cut it short or you'll find out."

"Listen," said Midge, "have you got a mortgage on me or somethin'? You talk like we was married."

"We're goin' to be, too. And to-morrow's as good a time as any."*

"Just about," Midge said. "You got as much chanct o' marryin' me to-morrow as the next day or next year and that ain't no chanct at all."

"We'll find out," said Grace.

"You're the one that's got somethin' to find out."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean I'm married already."

"You lie!"

"You think so, do you? Well, s'pose you go to this here address and get acquainted with my missus."

Midge scrawled a number on a piece of paper and handed it to her. She stared at it unseeingly.

"Well," said Midge. "I ain't kiddin' you. You go there and ask for Mrs. Michael Kelly, and if you don't find her, I'll marry you to-morrow before breakfast."

Still Grace stared at the scrap of paper. To Midge it seemed an age before she spoke again.

"You lied to me all this w'ile."

"You never ast me was I married. What's more, what the hell difference did it make to you? You got a split, didn't you? Better'n fifty-fifty."

He started away.

"Where you goin'?"

"I'm goin' to meet Harris and his wife."

"I'm goin' with you. You're not goin' to shake me now."

"Yes, I am, too," said Midge quietly. "When I leave town tomorrow night, you're going to stay here. And if I see where you're goin' to make a fuss, I'll put you in a hospital where they'll keep you quiet. You can get your stuff to-morrow mornin' and I'll slip you a hundred bucks. And then I don't want to see no more o' you. And don't try and tag along now or I'll have to add another K. O. to the old record."

When Grace returned to the hotel that night, she discovered that Midge and the Harrises had moved to another. And when Midge left town the following night, he was again without a manager, and Mr. Harris was without a wife.

Three days prior to Midge Kelly's ten-round bout with Young Milton in New York City, the sporting editor of The News assigned Joe Morgan to write two or three thousand words about the champion to run with a picture lay-out for Sunday.

Joe Morgan dropped in at Midge's training quarters Friday afternoon. Midge, he learned, was doing road work, but Midge's manager, Wallie Adams, stood ready and willing to supply reams of dope about the greatest fighter of the age.

"Let's hear what you've got," said Joe, "and then I'll try to fix up something."

So Wallie stepped on the accelerator of his imagination and shot away.

"Just a kid; that's all he is; a regular boy. Get what I mean? Don't know the meanin' o' bad habits. Never tasted liquor in his life and would prob'bly get sick if he smelled it. Clean livin' put him up where he's at. Get what I mean? And modest and unassumin' as a school girl. He's so quiet you wouldn't never know he was round. And he'd go to jail before he'd talk about himself.

"No job at all to get him in shape, 'cause he's always that way. The only trouble we have with him is gettin' him to light into these poor bums they match him up with. He's scared he'll hurt somebody. Get what I mean? He's tickled to death over this match with Milton, 'cause everybody says Milton can stand the gaff. Midge'll maybe be able to cut loose a little this time. But the last two bouts he had, the guys hadn't no business in the ring with him, and he was holdin' back all the w'ile for the fear he'd kill somebody. Get what I mean?"

"Is he married?" inquired Joe.

"Say, you'd think he was married to hear him rave about them kiddies he's got. His fam'ly's up in Canada to their summer home and Midge is wild to get up there with 'em. He thinks more o' that wife and them kiddies than all the money in the world. Get what I mean?"

"How many children has he?"

"I don't know, four or five, I guess. All boys and every one of 'em a dead ringer for their dad."

"Is his father living?"

"No, the old man died when he was a kid. But he's got a grand old mother and a kid brother out in Chi. They're the first ones he thinks about after a match, them and his wife and kiddies. And he don't forget to send the old woman a thousand bucks after every bout. He's goin to buy her a new home as soon as they pay him off for this match."

"How about his brother? Is he going to tackle the game?"

"Sure, and Midge says he'll be a champion before he's twenty years old. They're a fightin' fam'ly and all of 'em honest and straight as a die. Get what I mean? A fella that I can't tell you his name come to Midge in Milwaukee onct and wanted him to throw a fight and Midge give him such a trimmin' in the street that he couldn't go on that night. That's the kind he is. Get what I mean?"

Joe Morgan hung around the camp until Midge and his trainers returned.

"One o' the boys from The News," said Wallie by way of introduction. "I been givin' him your fam'ly hist'ry."

"Did he give you good dope?" he inquired.

"He's some historian," said Joe.

"Don't call me no names," said Wallie smiling. "Call us up if they's anything more you want. And keep your eyes on us Monday night. Get what I mean?"

The story in Sunday's News was read by thousands of lovers of the manly art. It was well written and full of human interest. Its slight inaccuracies went unchallenged, though three readers, besides Wallie Adams and Midge Kelly, saw and recognized them. The three were Grace, Tommy Haley and Jerome Harris and the comments they made were not for publication.

Neither the Mrs. Kelly in Chicago nor the Mrs. Kelly in Milwaukee knew that there was such a paper as the New York News. And even if they had known of it and that it contained two columns of reading matter about Midge, neither mother nor wife could have bought it. For The News on Sunday is a nickel a copy.

Joe Morgan could have written more accurately, no doubt, if instead of Wallie Adams, he had interviewed Ellen Kelly and Connie Kelly and Emma Kelly and Lou Hersch and Grace and Jerome Harris and Tommy Haley and Hap Collins and two or three Milwaukee bartenders.

But a story built on their evidence would never have passed the sporting editor.

"Suppose you can prove it," that gentleman would have said, "It wouldn't get us anything but abuse to print it. The people don't want to see him knocked. He's champion."

A Predator's Game, available March 30, 2016, Rook's Page Publishing.

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 of A Predator's Game .

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