by Robert Lopresti
Well, who says history doesn't repeat itself? For the second time since the universe was created one of my stories has shown up on the cover of a magazine, specifically the May issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. I am okay with that, if "okay" means thrilled to tiny bits.
So, let's talk a bit about "Shanks Commences." It is the seventh published adventure of Leopold Longshanks, a mystery writer who finds himself reluctantly involved in true crime. In this case, he is invited to his alma mater to give a commencement speech and gets involved in a murder in the campus library.
And speaking of true crime, there is a little bit more of reality in this story than in most of mine. Not, thank heaven, that I have ever encountered death in the library, but... You see, I am occasionally asked if I base my stuff on real people/things/events and I usually reply, no, it's easier to make stuff up. Which is true, but in this case I did borrow a few details from the real world.
For instance, the Great Hall of the library in my story bears a certain resemblance to the Main Reading Room at the library where I work. Some of the students call it the Harry Potter Room, seeing a resemblace to the Great Hall at Hogwarts School of Wizardry.
The Special Collections Room where my crime takes place is not entirely unlike the Rare Book Room at the university where I used to work. And the library director in my story, Calvin Floyd, shares some elements with the director of the library where I went to college, a heck of a nice guy who was both my boss and adviser. I'm happy he got through the story without being killed or arrested.
You may have noticed that name: Floyd. That's another way reality muddled with my story. When I wrote it I was still blogging at Criminal Brief. I had to think of a whole lot of names for characters and I thought, what the hell. So most of them are named for my fellow CB bloggers. I hope they don't mind making a guest appearance.
And as for you, I hope you enjoy the story.