Murder Ink (was Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: origin of term "cozy")

From: Richard Moore (
Date: 26 Mar 2007

Murder Ink holds a special place in my memory, especially because of its second owner Carol Brener. In 1979, I had sold two stories to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and another two to Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine and was halfway through my first novel. Although I had barely recovered from hepatitis, my wife and I made it to New York for a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the first Ellery Queen novel. Murder Ink was one of the evening's sponsors and the afternoon before we dropped by the store and enjoyed a long talk with Carol.

The dinner event was held at the historic Lotos Club, an imposing place, and our first sight on entering was Issac Asimov primping a bit before a mirror near the coat check. Although Bill Crider and others who have seen me hold forth at later conventions may doubt this, I am by nature a rather shy fellow and the sight of Asimov by this lifelong SF fan was enough to complete my intimidation. Plus, the affair was not a large one with only a few dozen in attendence.

It had been my hope to meet an agent or editor or someone who could advise me about placing my half-finished novel. But as no one wore big signs labeled AGENT or EDITOR and I had yet to attend an MWA affair so as to identify people by sight, I was at a loss of how to procede.

Carol Brener spotted me and came over to chat and remembering EQMM had bought two of my stories asked if I had met Fred Dannay, the guest of honor and editor of EQMM. I had not and while I was mumbling some excuse, Carol diagnosed my situation. She grabbed me firmly by the hand and literally dragged me across the room to Dannay where she announced me as the attendee tied for having traveled the longest distance, an honor she had invented on the spot.

Dannay could not have been nicer. He not only remembered the stories he had purchased (one rewritten to his suggestion) but also a couple he had rejected. What a wonderful person he was. Suddenly, he reached out an arm and grabbed an older woman who was breezing past us on her way to the bar. It was Lee Wright, legendary editor of the Inner Sanctum mysteries at Simon & Schuster and later at Random House and now a consultant with a new paperback line. Fred introduced me in glowing terms as a young writer she should meet ending with "...and I imagine he has a novel he is working on." I had not mentioned the half-finished novel to him but, bless his heart, I didn't have to.

I just had time to confirm the existence of a novel-in-progress before Ms. Wright grabbed me by the tie and jerked my head down to her level. "Do you have a pen?" I told her I did. "Take down this number." I wrote down the number she gave me. Still holding my tie she gave it three more jerks as she finished with "Call me on Monday."

The rest of the evening was something of a blur as I observed it from somewhere beyond Cloud Nine. I floated there until Monday morning when I called Ms. Wright and was brought back to earth when she had utterly no memory of meeting me. She also made it clear she had little or no interest in seeing my manuscript. At the point where she was about to hang up, she stopped and asked "Who did you say introduced us?" I repeated Fred Dannay's name and she audibly sighed. "Alright, I'll take a look at it. Send it to this address."

I did and she liked it and sent it up the line for purchase. As for not remembering me, I later learned that Lee enjoyed her cocktails and probably had several before Fred grabbed her. It may also have contributed to her bad mood that Monday morning when I called as it was barely past nine. When she called that afternoon with the good news, she was warm and friendly.

But none of it would have happened with Carol Brener and Murder Ink and for that I will always be most grateful.

Richard Moore

--- In, DJ-Anonyme@... wrote:
> I still have one of their large, black business cards in the shape
of a
> .45 pistol.
> Mark

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