Bill Riley
Created by Raymond Steiber

Raymond Steiber was a popular and talented short story writer whose work appeared in mystery and science fiction digests quite frequently in the nineties. His crime fiction, often featuring private eyes, made him something of a regular in AHMM and EQMM, and he was even awarded (post-humously) an Edgar for his "Mexican Gatsy" which appeared in the March 2002 issue of Ellery Queen. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2000.

BILL RILEY was the hero of "Contraband," the last story Steiber submitted to EQMM before his death, and bears many of Steiber's characteristic traits: intriguing characters, an almost conversational tone and great local colour.

In this case, Bill is an op for Blue Grass Investigations in Lexington, Kentucky. He's a nice enough guy, something of a good ol' boy, married to a nice deaf women (he wears a hearing aid and reads lips, himself), gets along with folks, mostly. A laidback kinda guy. And BGI suits him just fine -- it's no great shakes as a detective agency, just a decent place to work -- it's just Bill, his boss Lew and a secretary, and they do auto insurance stuff mostly. Still, that turns out to be more than enough when Bill and Lew get mixed up in an insurance scam that has already lead to one murder.

Like many of Steiber's stories, it's the characters that draw you in, and the sure hand he displays in the telling of the story. Steiber will be missed.

SHORT STORIES

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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