ROBERT LOPRESTI “The Charity Case.” Marty Crow #9?? Black Cat Mystery Magazine #7, paperback, November 2020 (Special Private Eye Edition).

   Private eye Marty Crow’s home base is Atlantic City, and if this fairly recent example is at all representative, even though that particular town must have its dark and dangerous streets, his adventures are not to be taken all that seriously. In “The Charity Case” he’s hired by a couple visiting from some prairie state who claim they’ve been robbed of $800 by a beggar on the street.

   But when Crow talks to the husband alone, the latter admits that he simply gave the man the money. It seems that he’s a member of the Final Days Punctionalist Church, and they believe devoutly in helping outsiders and people down on their luck. There is about to be a schism in the church, however, a religious issue, concerning to whom charity should be given. And if Crow doesn’t get the money back, a marriage is likely to break up as well.

   But what about the bum he gave the money to? Ah, that’s where the story lies. Neither Sam Spade nor Philip Marlowe would be caught in a story such as this, but the world of PI fiction is a whole lot larger than what they could ever have imagined. This story proves it.

      Earlier stories in the series include:

  • “Crow’s Game” (Summer 1989, P.I. Magazine)
  • “Crow in a Storm” (Winter 1990, P.I. Magazine)
  • “Big Heart Harry’s Case” (Summer 1990, P.I. Magazine)
  • “Crow’s Feat” (1993, Constable New Crimes 2)
  • “The Federal Case” (May 1991, AHMM)
  • “Four of a Kind” (May 1994, AHMM)
  • “Crow’s Avenue” (2003, Hardbroiled)

      Thanks to the Thrilling Detective website for the list of stories above.

Added later, taken from Robert Lopreski’s website:

  • “Crow’s Lesson.” (2013, Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble.)