"Mac" MacCauley

Created by Stephen Reid

"After fifteen years as a private investigator -- the last ten as a practising drunk --I had lost my license twice and my self-respect more times than I could count. The chances of me ever regaining either were between zero and entropy."

That's how long-past-his-prime P.I. "MAC" MacCAULEY sums up his misspent life at the beginning of the seasonal short story, "A Hard-Boiled Christmas" which, despite the title, is actually rather heart-warming. MacCauley teams up with his has-been actor pal Albert to deliver a bribe from a mobster to the Mayor. Just to add to fun, the bribe is to be delivered at the annual Christmas party at the Children's Shelter run by his long-suffering would-be girlfriend, Gallagher.

It's a good little story, and I read it every Christmas. There's a nice balance between MacCauley's cynicism and Gallagher's wide-eyed optimism. Toss in a secret or two, a double-cross and a mobster with his own agenda, and you have a pleasant little diversion best served up with shortbread and a cold glass of milk. No rotgut necessary...

It's too bad this is MacCauley's only appearance, as far as I know. I guess author Stephen Reid has been busy. He first gained notoriety as a member of Canada's notorious Stop Watch Gang, a team of daredevil bank robbers who pulled off a string of heists from Miami to Montreal, and ended up on the FBI's Most Wanted list. While serving time for those crimes, Reid wrote his first novel, Jackrabbit Parole (1986), a fictional account of a bank robber who escapers from prison and goes on a robbery spree. It proved to be quite a success, both critically and commercially. He received parole in 1987, and lived quietly on Vancouver Island with his wife, Susan Musgrave, a well-respected writer herself, who had served as his editor for Jackrabbit Parole. They had kids, and tried to get on with their lives.

But their life took another turn in 1999 when Reid was involved in a failed bank job and ensuing shootout with the cops in Victoria, and charged with 10 counts, including attempted murder and armed robbery. He's currently serving an 18-year sentence. The good news was that he was writing again. Maybe he'll even find the time to write another story with MacCauley.

SHORT STORIES

  • "A Hard-Boiled Christmas" (December 23, 1989, The Globe and Mail)

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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