Solving a Mystery

by John O'Sullivan

What do thriller writers do when not writing thrillers? Only a minority of the writers present at the event were full-time professional authors.

Charles Benoit, for instance, who writes adventures in the tradition of North by Northwest (ordinary man thrown by circumstances into life-or-death exotic adventures) works in advertising. His latest — Out of Order – is set in modern India. On the second evening, he also proved to be a brilliant game show hosting, ad-libbing, wise-cracking, and reproving the audience for shouting out the answers to mystified contestants. Pat Sajak, watch out.

Thomas J. Keevers, who writes hard-boiled mysteries about a Chicago detective called Mike Duncavan (a character not unlike Philip Marlow), is himself a former Chicago homicide cop. He’s also been a trial lawyer — multiple careers is something that a number of thriller writers have endured; presumably it helps the research. So he knows whereof he writes. Unlike his hero, though, Mr. Keevers is not at all hard-boiled, but a very courteous gentlemen. He never grilled me, of course, but I suspect he was the alternating “nice cop” in that famous routine.

I never found out from the amiable Terence Faherty if he did anything else for a living. His online biography says merely that he lectures on the films of Basil Rathbone which sounds wonderful (where do I sign up?), but less than a full-time job. I guess he must be a full-time writer, though, since his writing schedule seems to leave little time for anything else — producing regular additions to two series about shamuses called Owen Keane and Scott Elliot.

Owen Keane is a former seminarian who likes to solve metaphysical mysteries in the course of solving crimes. Since Father Brown is an old favorite of mine, I’ll have to give Owen Keane a try. But Scott Elliot sounds even more to my “Turner Classic Movies” tastes. He is a former actor (in late forties Hollywood) who deals with the wickedness surrounding the movie industry.

No shortage of material there.


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