RARA-AVIS: The Back Alley

From: Frederick Zackel (fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 30 Oct 2010

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    Back in the 1970s, back when mysteries & detective books were at a low ebb compared with today, I was very fortunate that I got to ask questions and listen to Ross Macdonald about mystery writing. At times we'd go walking his dogs along dry creek beds. The most important person in the story, he insisted, was the victim, and the story was about getting justice for the victim. He used to say the victim got short shrift, because as soon as the Great Detective would say (or imply) "The Game's Afoot!", then the victim was forgotten. The phrase "short shrift," he'd say, went back to medieval times, and that was the brief moment when the guilty party was allowed to make absolution between the verdict coming down and the execution.

    Please check out my story "Woman, 59, Brutally Slain In Home Invasion" in the new edition of Rick Helms' The Back Alley Webzine.


    And I want to thank Rick again for publishing the story. My story got to be included among some fantastic writers and for that privilege I am both honored and delighted.

    As a sidebar, Ross Macdonald used to say he was writing on the backsides of calendar pages ripped from the wall. At the time I didn't understand him.

    Best wishes,

    Fred Zackel


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