MARTIN H. GREENBERG, Editor – Deadly Doings. Ivy, paperback original; 1st printing, 1989.

#4. SUE GRAFTON “The Parker Shotgun.” Short story. First published in the PWA anthology Mean Streets, edited by Robert J. Randisi (Mysterious Press, 1986). [See Comment #3.] Reprinted many times, including The Oxford Book of American Detective Stories, edited by Tony Hillerman & Rosemary Herbert (Oxford University Press, hardcover, April 1996). First collected in Kinsey and Me (G.P. Putnam, hardcover, 2013). Winner of the Macavity and Anthony awards.

   I don’t know, but maybe someone reading this does. When Sue Grafton wrote the first Kinsey Millhone story, “A” Is for Alibi, way back in 1984, was she planning ahead? Did she have any idea that the series would continue on all the way through the letter Y before sadly she died late in 2017?

   Along the way, if my count is right, she wrote nine short stories about Kinsey, of which this is probably the most well known. In it she tackles a case that the police have given up on, that of the death of her client’s husband, a man known to have been dealing in cocaine. He had given it up when he married Kinsey’s client, but the police have taken the easy way out and chalked it up to just another drug deal gone bad.

   Kinsey, as always, tells the story herself, in her usual chipper fashion, even though some of the people she meets along the way do not belong to the nicest people in society. The titular shotgun, as expected, was the murder weapon, but not expected is that it’s a classic, a collectible worth in the vicinity of nearly $100,000, which is a nice area to be in, to be sure.

   Kinsey makes short work of the case, maybe too short. I’d have liked a little more meat to the tale myself, but as a fine example of a PI at work in the short story form, you shouldn’t need to look any farther than this one.


Previously in this Martin Greenberg anthology:JACK FINNEY “It Wouldn’t Be Fair.”