"The Groucho Marx Murders"

"AUTHOR'S NOTE: Max Allan Collins' 'Public Servant,' written when Collins was eighteen years old and published in HARDBOILED #1, inspired me to go back and re-examine the stuff I was writing when I was that age. A nostalgic couple of hours' searching through my files turned up a lot of junk and a couple of gems.

"'The Groucho Marx Murders' is, I think, one of the gems. Unfortunately, it was bounced by Fred Dannay and Ernie Hutter, and in those days I didn't realize there was anyplace to sell crime stories other than EQMM and AHMM. Worse, I firmly believed that anything Fred and Ernie wouldn't publish must be, by definition, a lousy story. So I not only filed my rejects, I forgot them.

"Rediscovering 'The Groucho Marx Murders' provided some interesting insight into the writer I was at eighteen. The reader, too. I was sucking down lots of Ellery Queen and S.S. Van Dine novels around that time, and it shows, it shows.

"I'd tell this story differently if I wrote it today — but, then again, I probably wouldn't write it today at all. The plot's too contrived by my current standards.

"It's a crisp little piece, though, and I'm delighted to see it in print after all these years. Maybe I could have sold it to a slicker publication for more money, somewhere along the line. But I like what Wayne and Todd are doing with HARDBOILED and I think perhaps this particular magazine is the perfect home for this particular story.

"I hope you enjoy it.

"And if you don't — he said, with eyebrows arched and cigar awaggle — I'll sentence you to 10 years in Leavenworth. Or 11 years in Twelveworth. Or 5 & 10 years in Woolworth...."

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