GERALD TOMLINSON “Another Wandering Daughter Job.” Matt Coleridge #1. Published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March 1978. Reprinted in Ellery Queen’s Anthology #52, 1985.

   The first job Gerald Tomlinson (1933-2006) had out out of college was as an English teacher, but he soon discovered that the world of publishing was a better fit for him, first at Harcourt Brace and then Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Between 1974 and 1999 he also wrote some three dozen short fiction crime stories, most of them for EQMM and AHMM.

   None of them seem to have used the same leading character more than once, though, including this one, and that’s a shame, since I for one think that Matt Coleridge deserved another outing. Colerdge is the sole proprietor of the World-Wide Detective Agency, based in Manhattan. His only employee is a 29-year-old secretary, who, in his own words, “thinks she loves me.”

   He’s hired in this case to find the wayward daughter (and ex-stripper) of a long-dead gangster and more recently his wife, who has just left her an estate worth eighty million dollars, if she can be found. Not surprisingly, the publicity brings several would-be Melva Dominic’s out from hiding, all of whom but one are quickly rubbed out or otherwise done away with — but why?

   The reason, once discovered, as sometimes happens, isn’t as interesting as the building up to it, but the story overall is nicely done and was certainly worth another. For whatever reason, Tomllnson never followed through. I wish he had.