Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ed Hoch, we'll miss you

Mystery writer Edward D. Hoch passed away January 17. He was 77. The legendery author, winner of numerous awards and accolades, was best known for his phenomenal short story output -- a new one appeared in every issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine for almost thirty-five years.

"I did actually publish five quickly forgotten novels between 1969 and 1975," Hoch wrote in May 2007, "but it was clear to me even then that I was a short story writer. The ideas came quickly, as they still do, and I enjoyed the exhilaration of finishing a story in a couple of weeks rather than waiting several months before concluding a novel." ("WHY THE SHORT STORY?", Criminal Brief)

In his almost 950 published stories, Hoch often called upon his stable of regular series characters:

Nick Velvet, a professional thief who only steals objects of little (apparent) value;
Dr. Sam Hawthorne, a retired family practitioner who solves impossible murders;
Rand, a code and cipher expert formerly with British intelligence;
Ben Snow, who solved mysteries in the Old West;
Stanton and Ives, Princeton graduates turned international couriers;
Michael Vlado, young king of a Gypsy tribe in eastern Europe;
Susan Holt, a minor executive in charge of promotions for a department store chain;
Alexander Swift, an intelligence agent for General George Washington during the Revolution;
Captain Leopold, head of the Violent Crimes Squad in an unnamed Connecticut city;
Simon Ark, a 2000-year-old Coptic priest who travels the world searching for evil;
Sebastian Blue and Laura Charme, Interpol officers who investigated international crimes;
Barney Hamet, a mystery writer who stumbles into real mysteries at mystery conventions;
Alan Darlan, a private investigator; and
Sir Gideon Parrot, a loving parody of Golden Age detectives

Some of his short story collections are available at Amazon. (See list.)

"We'll always be able to find Ed in the wealth of stories he left behind" (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Edward D. Hoch, 77; short-story mystery writer (Los Angeles Times)
Edward D. Hoch, Writer of Over 900 Mystery Stories, Is Dead at 77 (New York Times)
Edward D. Hoch, 77, wrote more than 900 mystery stories (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Ed Hoch Passes Away (Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind)
2004 interview (Mystery*File)
2002 interview (Ellery Queen fan site)
Christmas-themed short story "The Three Travelers" (
Comprehensive Hoch retrospective
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Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction


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