If you read last week's post and are expecting some update on my condition, like how I'm tolerating chemotherapy, here's the fact: I don't know. I'm writing this before I began treatment. If there are updates, I'll pass them along.
Before there was a Haunted Guesthouse, before Samuel Hoenig, before Duffy Madison or (coming soon to a bookstore near you) Kay Powell, there was Elliot Freed.
Elliot, for those not familiar with him, was the main character in the Double Feature (later Comedy Tonight) mystery series, my second ever. He ran Comedy Tonight, a one-screen movie theater in Midland Heights, New Jersey that showed only comedies, a classic first and then a contemporary to pay the bills. Elliot was a comedy freak. It was his religion and largely his life.
The books were fun to write and the people who read them seemed to enjoy them. But there weren't enough of those people, and after three novels, the series was discontinued by the publisher, who had this strange preoccupation with making money on the books they published.
Every once in a while since then I've heard from one of Elliot's readers who will ask, "Why not write another Double Feature book?" (as if the idea would never have occurred to me otherwise) and I'll tell them there is no publisher lining up to revitalize the series. And so for the past nine years we have not heard from Elliot Freed.
To be fair, don't get your hopes up too high. There still isn't going to be a new Double Feature novel. But Elliot is coming back briefly and it'll be easy to find him.
A new short(ish) story called "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Girl!" will appear in the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (where extremely loyal readers will recall that my first series featuring Aaron Tucker had a similar revival a few years back). It continues the story largely from the point in which we last left Elliot, but you don't have to be a fan of the series--or even have read any of the books at all--to get it.
In the story, Elliot and his ex-wife Sharon are expecting a child (Elliot explains) and rush to the hospital, where they're told labor could go on for a number of hours. But when Elliot goes to the storeroom to get a cup for Sharon's ice chips, he sees something he shouldn't and tries to convince the hospital staff and security personnel that a murder has taken place right under their noses. And the worst part is that his chief suspect is the resident currently overseeing Sharon's case.
Most of the characters from the book series make appearances and Elliot, as is his custom, will make some classic comedy references because that's how his mind works. A baby will be born. And the puzzle will be solved. In a lot less time than it takes to read a novel. That's the "short" part.
So if you're among the tiny minority clamoring for more Elliot Freed, rejoice! He's on his way. The May/June issue of AHMM will be coming April 25, I'm told, because of course it will. And you'll find Elliot lurking clumsily within its pages.
Pitchers and catchers report in 1 day.