RARA-AVIS: William Arden's Almost Edgar

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 22 May 2005

We've talked about the Kane Jackson novels Dennis writes in his "William Arden" persona, and also about his work under that name on the "Three Investigators" juvenile mystery novels.

I thought I should also mention that, just one year after getting the First Novel Edgar for ACT OF FEAR, Dennis almost walked away with a second for something he wrote as Arden.

Dennis was one of the finalists in the Short Story category, and his entry "Success of a Mission," is one of the best espionage short stories I've ever read. I personally preferred it to the winner that year, Warner Law's "The Man Who Fooled the World." Perhaps his already being such a recent Edgar winner worked against him.

I'm not sure but I think "Success" was originally published in ARGOSY. It was preserved between hard covers in one of those ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS anthologies, but I can't recall which one. That was where I found it.

Dennis, comparatively few spy stories are written at the short story level. Maugham's collection ASHENDEN
- THE BRITISH AGENT, and Fleming's two Bond collections, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and OCTOPUSSY, are the only short story collections featuring a single character I can think of. You're one of the few writers who's done spy fiction at both lengths. Is there some reason spy writers eschew the short story medium?


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