RARA-AVIS: RIP Dennis Lynds

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 09 Oct 2005

When I first posted the news about Dennis's passing, I was too shocked, having heard the news only minutes earlier, to more than say he was a fine writer and a fine man.

I was going to post something else when I got my thoughts together, but I spoke at his memorial at Bouchercon, and posting something else here seemed superfluous after that.

An off-list correspondent asked me about that memorial service and requested that I post the comments I made that night here.

I spoke extemporaneously, so what follows is more an approximate memory of what I said that night, than a word-for-word transcipt:

I first met Dennis at the very first Bouchercon I ever attended. You've all heard tonight how accessible Dennis was to his fellow writers, but when I first met him, I wasn't a pro in any sense. I'm not that much of a pro now. At best, I'm a semi-pro. But that day I was just an overeager "fanboy," who was flattered to be treated kindly and graciously by a wrier whose work I'd so admired.

I'm here to tell you that, as accessible as he was to his fellow writers, he was just as accessible to his fans.

You've also heard how versatile he was as an author. Anyone who can write so well about characters as varied as Nick Carter, The Shadow, and The Three Investigators would certainly qualify as versatile, but to get a real sense of just how versatile he could be, you should check out two of his earliest series characters, both characters firmly rooted in the traditions of the hard-boiled private eye, Dan Fortune and Kane Jackson.

Fortune and Jackson both came along in the late '60's, when the private eye form was very tightly constrained. Yet, within in a year, he'd produced books about two characters who were so different, yet who both fit firmly and comfortably within those constraints.

You've heard tonight that Dennis, despite the passion of his political beliefs, never made people who disagreed with him feel that he held them in contempt.
 His Kane Jackson novels are proof of that. Jackson was not a guy Dennis would have agreed with politically, yet he was able to get inside this guy's head and make him the hero. Jackson was a competely different character from Fortune, who handled completely different kinds of cases, whose stories were told in a completely different style and voice. If you didn't know that Michael Collins and William Arden were both the same guy, you'd have know idea that they were same guy. THAT'S versatility!

I'll also confirm Dennis's warm-hearted good nature. He and I weren't on the same page politically. We weren't even in the same book. I'm not even sure we were on the same shelf. But he never made me feel, as others have, that my political views made me somehow contemptible.

I lost my own Dad a little more than a year ago. When he passed, a friend told me later, "He was the epitome of a gentleman."

Dennis was part of the same generation as Dad, a generation we've come to recognize as the "Greatest Generation." He was a very different kind of guy than Dad was, but, in his very different way, he, like Dad, was "the epitome of a gentleman."

The person who asked me to post that had been a friend of Dennis's for a long time. I hope he feels I did Dennis justice.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 09 Oct 2005 EDT