"DDS 10752 Libra"

written with John Lutz

"John Lutz is presently serving his second term as president of PWA. He is also continuing to produce first-rate novels in two P.I. series . . . Here he joins forces with Josh Pachter to give us a truly memorable Nudger story.

"Josh Pachter has been writing and publishing short stories since he was eighteen years of age. He is the editor of one of the best anthologies of recent years, Top Crime, and the editor and publisher of The Short Sheet, a publication dedicated to the short story."

from Robert J. Randisi's introduction

This was kind of fun to do. John and I were friends from the Mystery Writers of America. When I wrote to him from Germany, asking him to collaborate with me for my planned Partners in Crime collection, he sent me back a very nice note saying sure — on notepaper headed "From the desk of John Lutz." Me being sort of a goofball, I addressed my next letter "To the desk of John Lutz," and, sure enough — John also being sort of a goofball on occasion — it was the desk which wrote me back.

So we wound up agreeing that our story had to feature a desk as a main character, and, sure enough, our first sentence reads, "Dwight Stone sat hunched over the telephone in the yellow glow from the antique lamp atop his desk." By page 2, Stone is dead, and my police officers Byrnes and Allen — see also "Gemini" and "The Leo's Den Affair" — wind up suspecting John's private eye Alo Nudger of the murder. The desk plays an important part in the investigation, and the story features a classical EQ-style dying-message clue.

My copy of the hardcover is #169 of a limited 250-copy edition, with a tipped-in page up front bearing the signatures of all 15 authors. Signing those 250 pages was no picnic — and mailing them from author to author to author, praying the package wouldn't get lost in the mail, must have been a logistical nightmare for Bob Randisi.

Sometime around the middle '90s, Becca and I had a layover in St. Louis on our way out to California. John and his wife Barbara, who live not far away, picked us up at the airport and squired us around town for a couple of hours. That's Barbara, Becca and John at the left. We had dinner with fellow mystery writer Mike Nevins (with whom I collaborated on "Leo's Den," another Partners in Crime story) at the old St. Louis train station, which had recently been gentrified into a chic midtown mall.

Thirty years later, "DDS" was reprinted in Shhhh ... Murder! (Darkhouse Books, 2018), a collection of short crime stories connected in some way to libraries.

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