07 March 2012

Cover Boy

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.


  1. I'm frustrated no end that my local B&N STILL doesn't have the issue on its shelves. I'm afraid my clerk was an exceptionally dim bulb who informed me that it's not yet May.

    I wrote a story which I've shared with Deborah and perhaps John that used CB names… and the solution depended on the names. (heh hem.)

  2. Congrats, Rob. It's a very big deal to have the cover story--it's okay to be thrilled. :)

  3. "Not yet May." Insert chain store joke here.

    Leigh, if you can't get your hands on an issue, let me know. We have ways around these problems.

    Liz, thanks much.

  4. I agree with your students about the Great Hall, Rob. As for being thrilled to bits, you should be, Cover Boy. All of your fellow SleuthSayers are thrilled for you, as well. Great job! I look forward to reading all the Amigos stories.

  5. Good work, Rob! The cover looks great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

  6. Congratulations.
    Your name on the cover is always good!

  7. Leigh, you may want to do as I did and subscribe to the magazine on Kindle. I could never find it on the news stands where I live, and B&N quit carrying it. It isn't quite the same as having the print version, of course, but it is an alternative.

  8. Funny that B&N doesn't have that copy on the shelves yet, Leigh. I haven't checked with ours, but I have seen it at our Books-A-Million. (I'm sure Borders would've had it in stock as well--I still miss that place!)

  9. Congratulations, Rob. I agree with Elizabeth, it is a big deal to have your story featured on the cover.

    I read your story and the other two stories by fellow SleuthSayers John and RT, and liked all three.

  10. Cover boy...that is so vry cool. But to be one AGAIN is fantastic! Yea, you!!!

  11. I DID read your story a while back, Rob, and I caught the familiar names! (I slipped and said I hadn't in an earlier post---oops!) Now, I gotta read John's and R.T.'s!

  12. Rob, nice finish to the trio of AHMM May issue stories. As a side note, the next time we get together at a conference, remind me to ask where a certain line of dialogue in "Shanks Commences" came from. merely curious.

  13. Rob, nice finish to the trio of AHMM May issue stories. As a side note, the next time we get together at a conference, remind me to ask where a certain line of dialogue in "Shanks Commences" came from. merely curious.


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