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Friday's Forgotten Book

In contributing to Friday's Forgotten Book project I was confronted with my beginnings in Crime Fiction. THE BLACK HAND GANG was a children's book I read with my sister when I was 10 or 11. There is THE FIRM or DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS purchased the same day from the Walden Books in the mall. THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD? Over my head. Too young.

The book is A DRY WHITE TEAR by Stephen F. Wilcox. This was the first book in two series that Mr. Wilcox wrote. The hero of this and three other books written between 1989 and 1994 was T.S.W Sheridan. Mr Sheridan is a crime reporter who moves to the Finger Lakes area in upstate New York to investigate the murder of his Uncle. I have not read the book in twenty years, and I always flunked reading comprehension, but I still recall my very strong reaction to it. Not until this book had I encountered a character like Sheridan. Rough, but amiable. Cynical, but hopeful. Sheridan was the first fully realized person I had read in crime fiction, more importantly he was the first character in fiction I wanted to hang out with. He'd sneak me beer, he'd tell me fascinating stories about being a reporter in Manhattan. Sheridan would be my mentor to the larger world. I couldn't tell you about the plot... see the above about my reading comprehension. Still, I can recall the unmasking of the murderer. It was not stylized or grandiose it was ordinary, it felt like how this would happen. It was the authenticity of the events that struck me most. It was fiction yes, but it was the reality of the writing that mentored me into this beautifully dark genre.


Thanks, Dan. A new one to me.

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