"Busman' Holiday"

In 1986, Ed McBain was named Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America. Long before, I'd written a parody of McBain's 87th Precinct police procedurals, but by then Fred Dannay, who loved spoofs, had passed away, and the new editor of EQMM had turned it down. I sent it to Richard Layman and Matthew J. Bruccoli, the editors of New Black Mask, and they loved it and paid me a lot of money to include it in the special McBain-tribute issue of NBM. At the last minute, though, their publisher decided that he didn't like parodies, either. My story was killed, but Layman and Bruccoli asked me if I had something else they could use instead. I sent them "Busman's Holiday," another unsold oldie and they bought it. In its original version, the story was written in a jerky telegraphic style — my intention was to have it read like a busy businessman's no-time-to-waste memo. I liked it that way, but editors didn't, so I rewrote it more smoothly.

"Josh Pachter, an instructor in the University of Maryland's European Division in West Germany, is well known to mystery fans for his stories and parodies in various magazines and for his anthology Top Crime (1985). He writes a column on short stories for Mystery Scene and is currently working on his first novel. Janwillem van de Wetering's story 'There Goes Ravelaar,' nominated for an Edgar in 1968, was translated from Dutch into English by Mr. Pachter."

Yes, I did write columns for Mystery Scene for about a year. Yes, I did write a novel, Dutch T(h)reat. Yes, I did translate van de Wetering's Edgar-nominated story, although that happened in 1986, not 1968.

One of the major coups of my writing career was the fact that I somehow got billed above Joyce Carol Oates and Tony Hillerman on the back cover of this book. Eat your heart out, Oatesy! And bite me, Hillermeister!

(By the way, I got to keep the money for "Eighty Million Noses," my McBain parody, and eventually sold it to Wayne Dundee at Hardboiled.)

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