Showing posts with label Dirckx. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dirckx. Show all posts

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Solo for Shoehorn, by John H. Dirckx

"Solo for Shoehorn," by John H. Dirckx, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, October 2015.

For many years Dirckx has been creating a dependable series of private eye stories for AHMM about Detective (recently Lieutenant) Cyrus Auburn, set in a midwestern city. 

The tale begins when Auburn meets Walter Bottrace, a seventy-five year old man with a mobile van full of vintage LPs and 45s for sale.  When Bottrace is found killed in the woods with a passel of fake IDs, Auburn uncovers a complicated scheme of robberies that have more to do with drugs and, yes, shoehorns, than music.

What makes the stories work are mostly the characters and how they are described.  There is a regular cast, each of whom gets their scene on stage.  For example, evidence tech Kestrel dislikes Stamaty, the coroner's clerk who slows down his work, and in this episode he calls him "the Last Responder."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Departmental Issue, by John H. Dirckx

Departmental Issue," by John H. Dirckx, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, September 2013.

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.