A giant has left us, not in height, but in terms of his stature in the field. Marv Lachman emailed me earlier today with word from his wife Pat that Ed Hoch died this morning, and the news is spreading quickly. Bill Crider was perhaps the first to post it on the web, followed quickly by Jeff Pierce at The Rap Sheet.

   Even though I’d met Ed only once, back a few years ago when he was one of the Guests of Honor at Pulpcon, I’d interviewed him before that by for the print version of Mystery*File, and we’d corresponded ever since. In recent months we’d been in touch most often as he, Marv, Al Hubin and I came across the deaths of other mystery writers and we informed each other of them.

   Ed may have been the last living link to the detective pulp era. He wasn’t published in Black Mask, only the more recent trade paperback revival, but “Village of the Dead,” his very first story, was published in the December, 1955, issue of Famous Detective.

   And of course he was still very much active, with well over 900 short stories to his credit and hoping to reach 1000. While his first story in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine appeared in December 1962, his appearance in the May 1973 issue began a streak of consecutive appearances in EQMM that has not ended, there being a story even now in the issue cover-dated February 2008.

   It’s a record that will not be surpassed. As a person, Ed Hoch was both a gentle man and a gentleman, loved by all. He will be missed.