NANCY SPRINGER “Milk of Human Blindness.” Mr. Jefferson #1. First published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, September 1996. Probably never reprinted.

   There can’t be a lot of business in Lancaster PA – the heart of Amish country – to keep a private eye in business, so it could very well be that this particular story was not only the first but also the last recorded case for Mr. Jefferson, as his client in this tale calls him. If so, that’s a shame, because as an introduction, it works fine, but it also leaves the reader (me) wanting more.

   Jefferson, by the way, is black, and he has kind of a sour outlook on life, with most of it taken up by doing repo and process serving. His client in this case is a young girl named Sarah, maybe eleven, twelve years old, and having found $200 on the street, she wants Jefferson to find out who her real parents are. Unfortunately when she discovers who lost the money (not drug money, as she thought), she needs the money back.

   And she agrees to go to work for Jefferson, to pay off her bill. And Jefferson, on his part, finds that yes, indeed, he needs the help, being as he is, not nearly as up to date in the new world of computers as he should be. By the story’s end and between the two of them, they have solved her case, and they’re ready for another. I hope there was one, but alas perhaps not.

PostScript: Nancy Springer is far better known as a fantasy writer, with several novels to her credit, but she also has written a long series of young adult mysteries about Enola Holmes, the fourteen-year-old sister of the far better known Sherlock Holmes, some twenty years older. A movie adaption of one the books is said to be currently in production.