Something Old: "Gone" by Peter Godfrey
Something New: "The Man Who Wasn't There," by Michael Allan Mallory
Peter Godfrey was a prolific short story writer who emigrated from South Africa to England in the 1960s because of his distaste for apartheid. By his reckoning (in a private letter) he published hundreds of stories in newspapers and magazines last century.
His story "Gone," which he wrote for a Crime Writer's Association anthology (John Creasey's Crime Collection 1982, edited by Herbert Harris), is the story of a shocking occurrence by the seaside. The plot pivots on a landscape painting of a beach.
The tone is somber, the ending... creepy. Godfrey takes us inside the mind of Tom Burt, deaf since birth, who at 12 years old had a mysterious encounter with a girl he met at the shore. She's not deaf herself, but her mother is, so she knows how to "handspeak," and she and Tom have a single magical afternoon together. It ends abruptly, and Tom doesn't know why.
Years later Tom realizes the incident has had a profound effect on his life and his painting career, and and he sets out to discover what really happened that day, and why it has haunted his subconscious ever since. What he finds out will haunt you too.
Michael Allan Mallory's story "The Man Who Wasn't There" was published in 2019 in the 50th Anniversary Bouchercon collection Denim, Diamonds, and Death. It's the story of a shocking occurrence by the seaside, and the plot pivots on a landscape painting of a beach.
Claudette and Peter are looking for Marco, wealthy owner of the oceanfront estate they've arrived at. They think they see him sunbathing, but on approaching closer, Peter discovers Marco's throat has been slit. Apart from Peter and Marco's, there are no footprints in the sand. They investigate to save Peter from prosecution.
This is, I believe, a new solution to the footprints-in-the-sand mystery, a variation on the impossible crime. The clueing is first-rate, and it's the kind of straightforward detective story that Edward D. Hoch might have written.
The two stories share another very specific link, but I'll leave you to discover what it is. Read both, starting with "Gone," and you'll receive an object lesson in how two virtuosos--one old, one new--can start with the same concept and produce completely different works of art.
“Everybody counts or nobody counts” is a refrain of Harry Bosch, the hero of Michael Connelly’s novels.
For the LAPD detective, this phrase is his mantra illustrating Bosch’s mission in solving murders.
“Everybody counts or nobody counts” also has worked as a slogan on T-shirts sold during campaigns to raise funds for worthy causes.
The latest fundraiser to benefit from “Everybody Counts or Nobody Counts” is the #SaveIndieBookstores campaign. The sale of the “Everybody Counts or Nobody Counts” T-shirts and money from donors raised nearly $35,000 with Connelly, left, contributing $10,000 toward the #SaveIndieBookstores campaign.
#SaveIndieBookstores campaign was a partnership of James Patterson, who donated $500,000, the American Booksellers Association and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc).
The campaign, which began April 2, 2020, and was to end April 30 but was extended to May 5, raised $1,239,595 to support independent bookstores, Bookselling This Week reported. The “Everybody Counts” campaign ended at the same time.
All the money raised will be given to independent bookstores, who are encouraged to apply for a grant.
For previous essays on this campaign, visit the Mystery Scene blog.
Sales of the “Everybody Counts or Nobody Counts” T-shirt have been launched three other times to raise money for worthy causes. “We will likely run it again at some point for another good cause, or do a new design,” said Jane Davis, the website manager of www.michaelconnelly.com.
Speaking from personal experience, the “Everybody Counts or Nobody Counts” T-shirts are quite nice and high quality. I bought one for my husband a couple of years ago. We’ve taken ours all over the country, when we could travel, and it has held up through numerous washings.
In support of #SaveIndieBookstores campaign, Connelly posted this comment:
“We are all struggling under the threat of this pandemic. We’ve lost people, others are sick. People have lost jobs, businesses have closed. While the front line of this war is being heroically fought by our health care workers and first responders, all of us around the world are doing the best we can. The future is uncertain other than the certainty that we will get through this together.
“Harry Bosch says everybody counts or nobody counts. I think he would agree that every bookstore counts, too. The DNA of our society and culture is in our books, our stories. I want to help make sure the places and people who put those books in our hands get through this difficult time."
In Fair Warning, Connelly returns to his journalist Jack McEvoy, who first appeared in The Poet, in 1996; then in The Scarecrow, published in 2009.
Bosch will return, just not yet.
Connelly’s next novel The Law of Innocence will focus on defense attorney Mickey Haller and is scheduled to be published November 10, 2020.