Joe Standard

Created by Dan A. Sproul (1982-2004)

Here's a good bet: Dan A. Sproul's race track eye to place.

Most of Dan A. Sproul's pleasantly pulpy short stories, published over the last couple of decades in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine have to do, in one way or another, with horse racing, or more precisely, betting on horse racing. And most of them seem to revolve around some hard-luck joe or another. And that includes his P.I. character JOE STANDARD.

Let's just say Joe's not exactly setting the world on fire. He's got a broom closet office in the back of the Sunbelt Realty Company in downtown Miami, and he's been known to sack out more than once on a cot he has stashed there. Joe, you see, enjoys placing a bet or two. And, like he says, maybe not all horsepaleyers die broke, but "here's one you can paste on your wall: most horseplayers live broke."

But in the demi-monde of the southern Florida racing circuit, Joe's the man. Okay, sometimes he bounces "drunks at the Cuban dances over in Hialeah," or does "a little night watchman work," but his bread and butter, so to speak, comes from owners, trainers and others involved in the horses. It's just he has a little problem holding onto that bread and butter.

A great, dependable little series, full of offbeat characters and quirky scams, with a great, behind-the-scenes feel, and a genuinely likable detective. A word to the wise: Sproul's a sure thing.

And the Private Eye Writers of America seemed to agree. He was nominated several times for Best Short Story.

SHORT STORIES

  • "The Sure Thing" (January 1989, AHMM)
  • "Spitting into the Wind" (April 1989, AHMM)
  • "The Scholar" (August 1989, AHMM)
  • "All About Heroes" (December 1998, AHMM)
  • "Down and Out Stable" (March 1999, AHMM)
  • "The Saga of Tommy Brokenbridge" (July/August 1999, AHMM)
  • "Winston Churchill, I Presume" (October 1999, AHMM)
  • "Princess Rolanda" (December 1999, AHMM)
  • "Hereís to Melvin Pilcher" (March 2000, AHMM)
  • "Einstein's Dog" (May 2000, AHMM)
  • "Snakebit" (June 2000, AHMM)
  • "Miracles" (January 2001, AHMM)
  • "Oh, Mona" (May 2001, AHMM)
  • "North West 33rd Court" (2001, Mystery Street)
  • "Daily Double Cross" (March 2002, AHMM)
  • "Hunch" (March 2004, AHMM)

Report submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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