Sunday, July 14, 2013
Departmental Issue, by John H. Dirckx
For many years John H. Dirckx has been publishing stories about Cyrus Auburn, a police detective in what I had thought was an unnamed city. In this one it appears to be Cleveland. Who knew?
The stories tend to be pretty straight police procedurals, without a lot of personal side trips, but in this case Auburn, newly promoted to lieutenant is feeling a certain amount of paranoia. His old boss asks him to take on a case too ticklish to share with anyone else in the department: a custodian fell to his death from the roof of skyscraper, leaving behind a former- police department laptop that was sold to someone at an auction. Is a cop the killer?
This story lacks one of my favorite things about Dirckx's stories: the interaction between all the regulars. Since Auburn is on his own we get much less of his co-workers than usual. But the other wonderful characteristic is Dirckx's imaginative writing style. Consider: how can you describe a pile of dirt on the floor and make it interesting?
A pile of refuse had been swept into a corner, where it skulked in the lee of a wide broomleaning against the wall.
"Skulked in the lee." Lovely.
Some more examples:
Rober's wallet was as devoid of interest as a wet paper towel, and his cell phone had come out of the fall with an incurable case of amnesia.
Amid an atmosphere thick with the scent of scorched grease and freshly chopped onions, white-capped and white-aproned servers of both genders took orders, delivered food and drink, and bussed tables with unflagging lethargy.