Saturday, June 16, 2018
The Library Fuzz Megapack by James Holding
I always have a hard time reviewing collections of stories. Instead, let me give you some background. John Betancourt, the publisher of Wildside Press, introduces the book. Holding lived from 1907 to 1997. According to Betancourt, Holding was a prolific short story writer in the mystery field. I was surprised to learn, first from Jeff, and then from the introduction, that Holding wrote children's books, including the Ellery Queen, Jr. series. Most of you probably won't remember that series. But, my public library still had them when I was a kid, and I read all of them. Just another reminder of the early mysteries I read.
In the Library Fuzz stories, Hal Johnson is a former police detective who now works as a "sissy" kind of cop. He works for a public library, tracking down overdue library books and bringing the books and the fines back to the library. However, Johnson still has all the skills he developed as a police officer. He's still observant, and often notices when something is wrong when he's on the job. Sometimes, he's smart enough to notify Lt. Randall from the police department before Johnson gets into too much trouble. Other times, his best intentions get him in trouble when he tries to help someone.
The stories range from murder to bank robbery to kidnapping. There are burglaries, thefts of books. Bookmarks and clues left in books often indicate a problem. Johnson is a likable guy. He's an avid reader. "I've found that reading's the best way to educate yourself beyond the few basic disciplines you get in college." He took speed reading and memory development courses when he worked in the police department, skills he uses, along with that talent for observation. He continues to propose to one of the librarians, Ellen Corby. If she doesn't accept, I'm tempted.
The Library Fuzz Megapack collects all twenty of Holding's stories. They were published between 1961 and 1984 in various mystery magazines; Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine. I'm just happy those magazines published the stories featuring this unusual cop.
And, thank you, Jeffrey Meyerson, for suggesting the book.
The Library Fuzz Megapack: 20 Classic Library & Book Crimes by James Holding! Wildside Press, LLC, 2015. ISBN 9781479416110 (paperback), 243p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy of the book.