Sean and Matt Ellis
Created by Benjamin M. Scutz

SEAN AND MATT ELLIS are two brothers in their late teens working part-time for Mickey Sloan's AAA Process Service of Washington, D.C. Author Ben Schutz, creator of the acclaimed Leo Haggerty series, introduced the brothers' debut in EQMM this way:

"It is a day in the life of two young private eyes/process servers -- Hardy Boys for the nineties. It is the product of a summer listening to my sons, two young private eyes/process servers, learn how the real world operates as the bearers of bad tidings."

Actually, Schutz undersells the story. It's simply one of the best short reads I've come across in a while, an engaging take on an old topic, with fresh characters and an offbeat charm, combining the fast-talking scams of Jim Rockford, the youthful bounce of, yes, the Hardy Boys, and a admission nobody lives in Bayport anymore (if they ever did). This isn't a gee-whiz look at life -- it's a real as next door.

Sean is long, lean and fair, an art major, and Matt's short, wide and dark and taking psychology. They're both working their way through school, scrapping to make tuition, and worrying about their mom, a nurse who in turn worries about them. They're all struggling to get by, but the affection and caring and the way they all look out for each other is rather touching. Seems Mr. Ellis (Matt refers to him as "the bastard") is long-gone, though he occasionally pops up trying to make half-ass amends. That's one of the things I liked about this story -- it doesn't back off from the way people really feel or act. There's anger here, and pettiness, hate and nastiness. Life can be messy, and people can be complicated, and Schutz acknowledges it, and then brings it all home, in twenty-one pages!

Edgar and Shamus-winning author Schutz is a clinical and forensic psychologist, specializing in child custody and child abuse cases, and it's that knowledge and background that permeates his fiction.

This is just a great story, and one that I hoped -- at the time I first read it-- would be the first of many. So far, only one other, "Til Death Us Do Part," has appearred, but it's a good, solid follow-up.

What're we gonna have to do to get this guy Schutz writing again?




Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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