Authors: Dell Magazines
Tuesday, Mar 1, 2011
by Doug Allyn
Art by Mark Evans Multiple EQMM Readers Award winner Doug Allyn has displayed an amazing array of talents in his work for us in recent months. When we asked him to read a story by Clark Howard for our...
by Judith Cutler
Fans of this historical series featuring early 1800s Reverend Tobias Campion won’t want to miss Judith Cutler’s two novels starring the sleuth: 2008’s The Keeper of Secrets and 2009’s Shadow of the Past. The British author also has two recent novel-length installments in her Lina Townend...
by Peter Turnbull
George Hennessey of the York P.D. is back in another involving short case. If you’d like to see him in a longer work, the latest Hennessey and Yellich novel, Deliver Us From Evil, becomes available in paperback this month; it was first published in hardcover in June 2010 by Severn House. “Throughout...
by Margaret Maron
Margaret Maron is the winner of several major American mystery awards: the Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity. She is the author of twenty-five novels and the New York Times has said: “Every Margaret Maron is a celebration of something remarkable.” The sixteenth entry in her Judge Deborah Knott...
by C. J. Harper
C. J. Harper is the pseudonym of Plymouth, Minnesota, lawyer Charlie Rethwisch. His three previous stories for us all featured 1950s P.I. Darrow Nash. In 2009, the author was highly commended by the...
by Simon Brett
Simon Brett’s latest mystery set in the fictional village of Fethering, Bones Under the Beach Hut, has just been published by Five Star Press. The previous book in the series, The Shooting in the Shop, earned this remark in Booklist’s starred review: “. . . with the talented Brett, the character...
by James Powell
Art by Allen Davis In 2010, Canadian-born James Powell received a nomination for the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story for his February 2009 EQMM tale “Clown-town...
by John Morgan Wilson
Edgar Allan Poe Award winner John Morgan Wilson has been called, by Booklist, “[Graham] Greene’s heir apparent and the savior of the mystery as morality play.” His latest novel in the award-winning Benjamin Justice series, Spider Season, was published in late 2008 and acclaimed by Mystery Scene...
by David Dean
2010 was a good year for 2007 EQMM Readers Award winner David Dean, who received nominations for two awards for his EQMM stories: “Awake” (7/09) was nominated for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s...
by Christine Poulson
Yorkshire-born Christine Poulson is an art historian who wrote several books on 19th century art and literature before creating her academic mysteries starring Cambridge University English lecturer Cassandra James. The most recent novel in that series is 2006’s Footfall. She currently lives with her...
by Eric Wright
Born in England, Eric Wright emigrated to Canada in 1951. His distinguished career as a novelist and short story writer has earned him Canada’s most prestigious crime award, the Arthur Ellis, four times. His new novel, published in late 2010, is A Likely Story; it’s the third in his Joe Barley...
by Robert Barnard
In September of 2010, a large-print edition of Robert Barnard’s much-praised novel A Stranger in the Family (Scribner, June 2010) was released by the Wheeler Large Print Book Series. Also new from the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award winner is his podcast for EQMM of his story “Rogues’ Gallery” (March...
by Terence Faherty
Terence Faherty has three series currently running in EQMM: that to which this new story belongs, following a Star Republic reporter; the tales featuring post-WWII Hollywood P.I. Scott Elliott; and the series that launched his career, starring former seminary student and sometime sleuth Owen Keane....
by Trina Corey
Trina Corey debuted in EQMM ’s Department of First Stories in March/April of 2009. (See “Vacation.”) The teacher of twenty years lives with her family in northern California and is currently at work on both a new short story and a novel. The following tale arose from her own family history: a...
by Edward D. Hoch
“One of Ed’s finest stories,” says Douglas Greene of Crippen and Landru, the publisher of several Hoch collections, “is ‘A Long Way Down,’ an impossible crime tale—man jumps out of skyscraper window but disappears on the way down.” The story first appeared in AHMM in February 1965, three years after...
by Dave Zeltserman
The last two short stories Dave Zeltserman contributed to EQMM featured the inimitable anthropomor-phic computer who plays Archie to his detective, Julius Katz. The first of those stories, entitled “Julius Katz,” recently won both the PWA’s Shamus Award for Best Short Story and the SMFS’s Derringer...
A PENNY FOR THE BOATMAN
by Doug Allyn
Art by Mark Evans
Readers Award winner Doug Allyn has displayed an amazing array of talents in his work for us in recent months. When we asked him to read a story by Clark Howard for our podcast series, we never expected the tale to be rendered with a theatricality worthy of a professional actor, nor did we realize that he would not only perform the music for the podcast but create his own arrangement. Now he’s completed an original musical composition for a podcast of one of his own stories. Don’t miss it; it’s coming up soon!
Raising her grizzled head, the black Labrador growled a warning, low in her throat. Luke Falk paused a moment, listening, then went back to his work, sanding the rounded keel of the pontoon in the open double doorway of his boat shop. His grandfather, fishing from his lawn chair on the lakeside deck of Falk Boatworks, paid no mind to the dog, either. Echoes roll for miles along the lakeshore and the Lab could hear visitors long before she saw them. On the isolated cove north of Point Amalie, the only sounds the men could hear were the waves gently lapping and the lonely cries of the gulls.
Annoyed, the Lab rose stiffly to her feet, stalked to the edge of the deck, and barked, a single
. This time her warning was answered by the roar of two vehicles speeding along the Point’s narrow access road.
Luke kept on working, shaving a twenty-foot pontoon down a final sixteenth of an inch. He barely glanced up as the two vehicles pulled out of the forest into his yard. Twin black Lincoln Navigators. Identical. The four men who piled out of the first car were also nearly identical. Hard black men in matching dark suits and sunglasses, they quickly established a defensive perimeter around the second Navigator, scanning every inch of the boatyard.
Their leader was nearly seven feet tall, with a shaved head, black suit, snow-white shirt with a red bow tie. His thin, hawkish face was highlighted by tribal tattoos on both cheeks. The oval lenses of his custom-framed sunglasses gave him an alien, praying-mantis look. He took a moment to look over the clearing, then stalked to the open shop door.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for the owner, Mr. Lucas Falk?” the African said politely. His accent was crisp and British.
“That would be me,” Luke said, straightening. He was dressed for work, sleeveless T-shirt, jeans, and cork boots, dark, shaggy hair hanging in his eyes.
“My name’s Deacon, Mr. Falk. I’m chief of security for Miss Aliana Markovic. Do you mind if my people take a quick look around the grounds?”
“Help yourself.” The question was academic anyway. The four dark-suited security types were already prowling through the yard. The search didn’t take long. The only buildings in the clearing were two open drying sheds with their tall stacks of curing lumber, a cabin, and the boat works itself, which extended out over the water on pilings. The buildings were rustic, but carefully crafted, hand built, using timbers taken from the surrounding forest.
As his men scouted the grounds, Deacon walked around the deck that circled the workshop. At the rear of the boathouse, at lakeside, an elderly man was sitting in a lawn chair, fishing off the dock. He was dressed in faded denims, with a seamed face the color of golden oak, his thick, silvered mane hanging loosely to his shoulders. The grizzled Labrador Retriever resting beside his chair growled a warning, her dark eyes locked on Deacon.
“Easy, Razz. Howdy. I’m Gus, Luke’s grandfather,” the old-timer said cheerfully, as though seven-foot Africans stepping onto his deck were an everyday occurrence. “I got cold Coors in the cooler if you’d care for one, Mr. . . . ?”
“Deacon,” the African said. “Thank you, but no. I’m working.”
“Relax, son, you’re safe as houses out here. Nobody lives on the Point but us, and this old dog can hear folks coming five miles away. She heard you twenty minutes ago.”
“We weren’t trying to be quiet, Mr. Gus.”
“She hears the quiet ones even quicker,” Gus said. “Are you sure you don’t want—?” But the tall man had already moved on.
Two bodyguards took posts outside as Deacon ducked through the boat-shed doorway. Luke kept working as the tall African moved warily through the building, occasionally picking up a hand tool for a closer look, a chisel here, a hatchet there.
The air in the workshop was rich with the sweet scent of wood shavings and spar varnish. A half-dozen cigar-shaped wooden hulls were laid out on trestles in various states of completion, their seams invisibly joined with pegs and wood glue. But for the bare light bulbs dangling from the ceiling beams, the workshop could have time-traveled from the last century. Or even the one before that.
Deacon made no comment until he opened a cabinet, revealing a couple of Winchester ’94 lever-action carbines plus an ’03 military Springfield bolt-action with a telescopic sight.
“What are these?”
“Hunting guns,” Luke replied without looking up.
“The Springfield was a sophisticated weapon for its time. What do you hunt with such a rifle, Mr. Falk?”
“I don’t hunt, my grandfather does. Me, I build boats. Would you like to see a boat, Mr. Deacon? If not, collect your little army, get back in your cars, and hit the road.”
For a moment, Luke thought the African might do just that.
Instead, he took out a cell phone, flipped it open, and pressed a tab. “All clear here,” he said.
The sparrow of a woman who stepped out of the second Navigator seemed much too small to merit all the drama. She was dressed in a simple black skirt and blouse. Her dark hair was covered with a black silk scarf, her eyes hidden by sunglasses.
If she was dismayed by the rough conditions in the shop, she gave no sign of it. Instead, she eyed the pontoon Falk was working on curiously, running her fingers over the wood. She gave Deacon a curt nod, and he stepped outside onto the deck.
“Are you famous, miss?” Luke asked, continuing to plane the long plank, filling the air with the sharp tang of raw pine.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You travel with quite an entourage. Are you a celebrity?”
“No, just a potential customer. I read about your boats in the Hammacher-Schlemmer catalog. They looked unique and quite lovely. Though at the prices they listed, I was expecting your establishment to be . . .”
“A bit less rustic?” Luke offered. “It’s a wood shop, miss. I build handcrafted boats. A shiny new factory would be a contradiction in terms.”
“Perhaps,” she said, sizing him up. Luke was slender as a railroad tie and looked just as hard, with a strong jaw, thick, dark hair, and a Semper Fidelis tattoo on his bicep.
“Do you know anything about boats, miss?”
“I grew up in Dubrovnik, Mr. Falk. I was sailing solo on the Adriatic at ten. Later, we lived in Venice, where even the taxis are watercraft.”
“Excellent,” Luke said, laying the hand plane aside. “Then suppose we skip the sales pitch. I’m lousy at it anyway. C’mon out back, let me show you a boat.”
From the back deck, a pier extended forty feet out into the bay. The sailboat moored at the end was unlike anything Aliana had ever seen. The wooden vessel was poised so lightly atop the water she scarcely seemed to be floating at all. Arched wings connected the central hull to the twin outriggers, giving her the look of a prehistoric bird. She looked more like a mobile sculpture than a sailboat.
“She’s a very . . . striking craft,” Aliana said quietly.
“She’s a trimaran,” Luke explained. “Two foam-filled outriggers mounted on either side of the central hull, hand carved from Sitka spruce, round bottomed for minimum drag. Her main mast is anodized aluminum, eighteen foot, forward mounted. She’s thirty-two feet long and nearly as wide, with a shipping weight of just under six hundred pounds. The cockpit seats four, but she’s much faster with only one or two. Multihulls slow down in a hurry if you overload ’em.”
“Her deck isn’t spruce,” Aliana observed.
“You’re right, it’s not,” Luke acknowledged, surprised. “Because of the arch, most boatwrights use marine plywood but the Anishnabeg prefer—”
“I’m sorry, the what?”
“Native Americans, my grandfather’s people. Around here, folks call them Ojibwa or Chippewa, but Anishnabeg is their term for themselves. We were too busy grabbing their land to bother getting their names right. The lake tribes often framed their war canoes with red or white cedar. It’s resilient, its natural oils make it water resistant, and it’s soft enough to allow for intricate carving. For them, every boat was a work of art.”
“No more than this one,” Aliana said quietly. “The pictures in the catalog don’t do her justice, Mr. Falk. She’s magnificent. Is your hull design based on the Shearwater series?”
“You really do know boats,” Luke nodded in approval. “Actually, this design predates the Prouts Shearwaters by a thousand years. Ancient Polynesians built multihulled proas with rounded bottoms.”
“They never built anything like this,” Aliana said. “Can we take her out?”
“Sure, if you don’t mind shucking your high heels. I have extra deck shoes if you—”
“I’ve never worn shoes on a boat in my life,” she said, slipping off her pumps, leaving them on the pier as she stepped gracefully into the craft. “I’m not a civilian, Mr. Falk.”
And she wasn’t. After cranking up just enough sail to maintain headway, Aliana took the helm and guided the trimaran skillfully through the breakers near the shore and out into the bay. Seated in the stern, Luke coached her briefly on the boat’s behavior, but mostly he just watched. She was clearly at home at the tiller, absorbing his instructions and every quirk of the craft like a skilled rider learning the gait of a new horse. And she was a very quick study.
Before long, she relaxed, enjoying the ride. As they neared the open water of the bay, she took off her scarf, letting the lake wind riffle her dark hair, cropped short as a boy’s.
But as Luke started to winch up the mainsail, she shook her head. “No. Keep her short-sailed, please. Within sight of the shore.”
Luke glanced shoreward. The tall African was standing beside Gus’s chair, arms folded, watching them intently.
“You can’t demonstrate her properly this close to land, miss.”
“Deacon worries if I’m out of his sight. I’d prefer not to upset him.”
“You’re perfectly safe out here.”
“You create beautiful boats, Mr. Falk. Deacon’s vocation is keeping me safe. He takes his work very seriously.”
“So I gathered. Why all the bodyguards? Northern Michigan isn’t the Wild West.”
“America has the highest murder rate in the industrialized world. Michigan is its most violent state.”
“That’s in the big cities down below, miss, Flint and Detroit. Up here, you’re on the tip of the mitten. The nearest town is Valhalla and a Saturday night bar brawl is as rough as it gets.”
“Perhaps we live in different countries called America, Mr. Falk. Thank you for the demonstration, we should go back now. You’d better take the helm.”
“Whatever you say.” Luke shrugged, trying to hide his annoyance as they traded seats. But as he brought the craft about and headed back to the landing, he couldn’t help staring at the woman. She wasn’t conventionally pretty, but she was a striking figure. Drab as a sparrow and as alone as anyone he’d ever met. He wondered what her eyes looked like behind the shades. . . . She caught his glance, and he quickly looked away.
At the dock, she stepped briskly ashore, slipped on her shoes, and retied the black scarf. Murmuring something to Deacon, she followed Luke into the boathouse, eyeing him curiously as he picked up the wood rasp and returned to his work.
“You weren’t joking when you said you weren’t much of a salesman, Mr. Falk. Fortunately, your handiwork speaks for itself. She’s a lovely craft. I’ll take her.”
“What?” Luke was so startled, he ran the rasp across his knuckles. “Damn!”
“Are you all right?”
“I’ll live,” Luke said, grimacing. “Did you say you want to buy the boat?”
“You didn’t give her much of a test run, miss. And you haven’t even asked the price.”
“Very well, how much?”
“Sixty thousand dollars.”
“That seems little enough for such a beauty—you’re bleeding, Mr. Falk. Do you have a first-aid kit?”
“At the end of the counter, miss, but you needn’t—”
“Let me see to it. You’re bleeding all over that hull.”
Popping open the metal box, she quickly found disinfectant and gauze. “Give me your hand, please.” Reluctantly, Luke offered his wounded paw. She frowned, eyeing the new gash and a dozen more scars surrounding it.
“Sorry,” he said, “it’s been awhile since my last manicure.”
“You’ve never had a manicure in your life,” she said briskly, swabbing down the cut with disinfectant. “You needn’t apologize for using your hands to create beauty. I do business with manicured men every day. The planet would be a better place if most of them were stood against the nearest wall and shot. Hold still, please.”