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Shorter Works by Edward D Hoch

Page history last edited by Jon 10 years, 8 months ago

Hoch, Edward D -- Shorter Works (1930-2008)

 

"Christmas Crossing" (2007)

by Edward D. Hoch

 

"It was the perfect place for someone who didn't want to be found."

***

"'You still haven't told me what you're doing here. Does it have anything to do with Christmas?'

"Monica took a sip of her beer. 'I'm meeting the three wise men.'"

***

"'What are you -- a spy or something?'

"She laughed. 'Nothing as simple as that.'"

***

"Matos knelt by the body and saw the blood trickling from a head wound. A pillow with powder burns and loose feathers lay nearby. 'It looks as if he was shot. A pillow was used to muffle the sound.' He stared up at Monica. 'What did he have that cost him his life?'"

***

"There is no serious crime on Beaver Island."

***

"Didn't these last two nights mean anything to you?"

"Of course, they did. It was like Berlin and I was young and innocent."

"You're still young."

"But not so innocent."

***

"They'll find him if he groans loud enough, and the murder weapon has his prints on it. With that bullet in him, he's not going anywhere."

 

********** 

ThesisEssayDissertationAssignmentResearch PaperTerm PaperCourseWorkBook Report 

COMMENTS

Matos (first name? last?) owns a little bar attached to a hotel situated on Beaver Island, in the St. Lawrence River; since it's almost Christmas, he's rather surprised when several strangers check in during the off season. Pleasantly surprising, as well, is the appearance of an old flame he had known from before the fall of the Iron Curtain, but clearly she has something to hide. Presently someone is murdered, and Matos finds himself facing the muzzle of a dead man's gun.

 

NOTES

The story's pace is hampered by excess repetition, but there is a nice, subdued twist ending. Most of the mystery involves what everybody wants, the "MacGuffin" (Hitchcock) or "dingus" (Sam Spade).

 

TYPE: Short story.

GENRE: Mystery fiction.

NARRATIVE: Third person.

WHERE: Beaver Island, Canada.

WHEN: Present day (early 2000s).

CHARACTERS: Matos; Philip Conrad; Russ Ruez; Monica Lowell; Bruno Belsen; Tommy Yin.

FOUND IN: Blood on the Holly (2007), pp. 33-45.

 


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"Golden Nugget Poker Game, The" (1987)

by Edward D. Hoch

 

"Glancing around at the other five players, he decided he had never seen a more unsavory group of men in one place, and that included Dodge City at its worst."

***

"Ben Snow hadn't traveled north to prospect for gold. He'd come as something of a paid bodyguard ...."

***

"Even a town at the end of the world has to have laws."

***

"Ben sat there feeling like a fool. He'd traveled to the end of the world as the bodyguard for a man who was a faster draw than he was."

***

"He told me it had only been a flesh wound and he'd just been hiding out till things blew over."

"I never heard of a victim hiding out."

***

"There was the sudden flare and boom of a shotgun. Ben felt the rope railing come loose in his hand as the spray of buckshot parted its strands. He was drawing his gun when the second barrel discharged ...."

 

**********

 

COMMENTS

Free-lance gun-for-hire Ben Snow finds himself in the wild and woolly Yukon during the Gold Rush, where men were men and women made the most of it. In a frontier town like Dawson, occasional violence is fairly normal; but you wouldn't expect to come across a criminal conspiracy like the one Ben runs afoul of, a variation of the old badger game -- but with bullets. When a man dies once too often, Ben's detective instincts are fully engaged; his client, furthermore, is innocent of murder even when several eyewitnesses -- including Ben -- see him fire two bullets into the man. Ben's job is to prove his client didn't commit murder while not getting himself murdered.

 

NOTES

As a professional gunslinger, Ben Snow is remarkably ineffectual in this one; but he makes up for it with his detectival skills.

 

TYPE: Short story.

GENRE: Historical fiction.

SUB-GENRE: Detective fiction.

NARRATIVE: Third person.

WHERE: Dawson in the Yukon; the Golden Nugget saloon; Paradise Alley; jailhouse; ice house.

WHEN: Summer 1898.

CHARACTERS: Ben Snow; Race Johnson; Sam Wellman; Yancy Booth; Tess; Pete Waters; Mary; Grogan; Sergeant Baxter, R. C. M. P.

FOUND IN: Historical Whodunnits (1993), pp. 455-468.

FIRST APPEARED IN: EQMM (March 1987).

 


 

"I'd Know You Anywhere" (1963)

by Edward D. Hoch

 

"Go on, laugh. There's worse things a guy could do to earn a living."

"Sure. He could rob banks."

***

"Are you nuts or something, Grove?"

"I'm alive, that's the important thing."

***

"Men like Grove never changed -- at least not for the better."

***

"I know my military law and I know my moral law. It's like the overcrowded lifeboat."

"I think you just like to kill."

"What soldier doesn't?"

"Me."

***

"A hundred years ago you'd have been a Western gunman probably. Or forty years ago, a Chicago bootlegger with a Tommy gun. Now there's just the army left to you."

 

**********

 

COMMENTS

Contrell (no first name) and Willy Grove survive a desperate situation fighting the Germans in the Tunisian desert, but Willy betrays a ruthlessness in liking to kill. Eight years later, Contrell encounters Grove again during the Korean War and sees that Willy is just the same. In Berlin in the early '60s their paths cross once more; Contrell can't help noticing how dangerous it is to have a volatile individual like Grove involved in such a tense international situation. Finally, Contrell and Willy meet for the last time in Washington -- the very last time.

 

NOTES

Not really a mystery, but the buildup to the final explosion is well-laid. And while the ten-page story takes us across three decades, Hoch doesn't make the mistake of trying to round out his characters too much.

 

TYPE: Short story.

GENRE: Crime fiction.

NARRATIVE: Third person.

WHERE: North Africa; Korea; Berlin; Washington, D. C.

WHEN: 16 November 1942; 30 November 1950; 24 August 1961; 5 April 1969.

CHARACTERS: Contrell; Willy Grove; Army tank captain; slightly drunk captain.

FOUND IN: Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories to Be Read with the Lights On (Vol. 1) (1973, 1976), pp. 145-155.

FIRST APPEARED IN: EQMM (October 1963).

 


 

"Leopold Locked Room, The" (1971)

by Edward D. Hoch

 

"It was a blessing, really, that we didn't have children. I heard she got a few minor jobs out there -- as an extra, and some technical stuff behind the scenes. Then apparently she had a nervous breakdown."

***

"She told a friend once a few years ago she wished I were dead."

***

"I don't tangle much with criminals."

***

"Only the eyes startled him, and frightened him just a bit. They had an intense wild look he'd seen before on the faces of deranged criminals."

***

"She shot herself with your gun, while it was in your holster, and while you were standing twenty feet away?"

***

"Detective Captain Held in Slaying of Ex-Wife"

***

"If you were smart you'd have killed her fifteen years ago when she walked out on you. That's what I'd have done."

***

"She said you were smart. She said you were a smart cop."

 

**********

 

COMMENTS

Captain Leopold has a past, as Lieutenant Fletcher discovers to his surprise: an ex-wife who is unwilling to forgive and forget. Leopold's past violently catches up to him at a wedding when he apparently shoots his ex dead in a completely empty room with absolutely no possibility of anyone else's pulling the trigger -- and did I mention she dies of a bullet through the heart fired from no more than two inches away, while Leopold is standing almost seven yards from her? Even Leopold's confidence in himself is shaken, but thanks to Fletcher's perseverance the "impossible crime" is shown to be altogether possible.

 

NOTES

This story was adapted for an episode of the TV series McMillan and Wife with Rock Hudson and Susan St. James ("Cop of the Year," November 1972), but Commissioner McMillan's capable assistant Sergeant Enright is the one blamed for the murder.

 

TYPE: Short story.

GENRE: Detective fiction.

SUB-GENRE: Impossible crime fiction.

NARRATIVE: Third person.

WHERE: Police station; Sunset Farms; the Commissioner's office; Leopold's apartment; Immy Fontaine's house; the police lab; a hotel in Boston.

WHEN: Present day (1970s).

CHARACTERS: Captain Leopold; Lieutenant Fletcher; Monica Leopold; Vicki Nelson; Ted Moore; Immy Fontaine; Dr. Felix Thursby; the Commissioner; an assistant for the D. A.; 150 wedding guests.

FOUND IN: Tricks and Treats (1976), pp. 74-88.

FIRST APPEARED IN: EQMM (October 1971).

 


 

"Money on the Red" (2004)

by Edward D. Hoch

 

"So you're a performance artist?"

***

"When I'm performing in a museum it's art, when I'm in an Off-Broadway theater it's show business."

***

"One writer viewed me as a personification of Lady Luck."

***

"Get someone else."

"Someone else? There is no one else. It's your act!"

***

"She gave him a jab to wake him up and that was when she felt the knife in his side, buried up to the hilt."

***

"You don't understand. If you're not with me on this you're against me. I can't have you talking to the police."

 

**********

 

COMMENTS

They say that to make it big in show biz you need an effective gimmick. Wanda Cirrus's gimmick is highly unusual: She is a living roulette wheel ball; you know, the wheel spins round and a white ball skitters to a stop on a certain red or black numbered slot -- only in Wanda's case, she's the ball. At least the pay is good, but when a shady gentleman approaches her with a scheme to beat the system she yields to temptation; soon, however, someone is stabbed to death and Wanda realizes she's in too deep. They also say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas; Wanda knows that, unless she's very clever, she'll stay in Vegas -- permanently.

 

NOTES

This one has a nice little twist ending; Hoch rarely disappoints the reader.

 

TYPE: Short story.

GENRE: Crime fiction.

NARRATIVE: Third person.

WHERE: Las Vegas; Wanda's apartment; a casino; a parking garage; a bar in Enterprise.

WHEN: Present day (early 2000s).

CHARACTERS: Rick Dodson; Wanda Cirrus; Judd Franklyn; Sam Dole; Minnie Brewer; bartender; two detectives.

FOUND IN: Show Business is Murder (2005), pp. 30-44.

 


 

"Toil and Trouble" (1997)

by Edward D. Hoch

 

"Artemis, who loved moonlight on the heath, shrank back in terror when she saw the serpent coiled around Hecate's neck."

***

"No moonlight, you foolish girl! You need fillet of snake, eye of newt, toe of frog! Wool of bat and tongue of dog! Lizard's leg and owl's wing!"

***

"I know of Lady MacBeth. She is a kind-hearted person."

"Not where ambition is concerned."

***

"The bodies of the two grooms were bloodied everywhere from MacBeth's dagger, yet the wounds of the King himself barely bled at all."

"How is this possible? .... Is it enchantment? A sign from heaven?"

***

"All this is because you dared trade and traffic with MacBeth in riddles and affairs of death."

***

"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes! Open locks, whoever knocks!"

***

"Killing, killing, it never stops."

***

"I made a bloody promise then that someday this babe would rule over all the land."

 

**********

 

COMMENTS

In the days of political turmoil that gripped medieval Scotland, someone vows to end the struggle once and for all; if that means murdering one's way to the top, so be it. When the King dies, the innocent grooms are blamed; but the would-be killer is unaware that he has murdered a dead man, and the killer's wife, despite all appearances, is not a suicide but the victim of a carefully contrived murder scheme.

 

NOTES

This was Hoch's contribution to a Shakespearean-themed anthology in which various authors converted the Bard's works into whodunnits. Hoch manages to mimic Shakespeare's cadences fairly well and makes "the Scottish play" into a good little murder mystery.

 

TYPE: Short story.

GENRE: Mystery fiction.

NARRATIVE: Third person.

WHERE: Scotland; a cave; MacBeth's castle; Birnam Wood.

WHEN: Centuries ago.

CHARACTERS: Hecate; Selene; Artemis; Persephone; MacBeth; Banquo; Duncan; Lady MacBeth; Roseanne; Theeca; Malcolm; Lennox; messenger; MacDuff.

FOUND IN: Shakespearean Whodunnits (1997), pp. 185-195.

 


 

For more discussion of Hoch's short mysteries, see:

 

http://members.aol.com/MG4273/hoch.htm

 

as well as:

Bamboo Sheets

 http://gadetection.pbwiki.com/Hoch,+Edward+D

http://gadetection.pbwiki.com/Diagnosis:+Impossible:+The+Problems+of+Dr+Sam+Hawthorne

 

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