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

#9. EDWARD D. HOCH “The Unicorn’s Daughter.” Short story. Simon Ark #? First published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, 06 January 1982. Collected in The Quests of Simon Ark (Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1984).

   The Simon Ark stories make up one of Edward D. Hoch’s strangest series. Ark himself is said to be a two-thousand year old Coptic priest whose mission on earth is to uncover and destroy the devil’s work on Earth, and yet — and I may be wrong about this — most of his investigations usually end with entirely mundane explanations. (I believe I recall earlier stories concluding on ambiguous notes.)

   In “The Unicorn’s Daughter” Simon Ark is called in to find out why a would-be author jumped to his death through a window of a publisher’s office twenty-eight stories high. The only clue is his address on the title page of his manuscript: Catskill NY, which is where the publisher takes Ark, where they find a strange “gingerbread house gone wild,” to quote the narrator of the story.

   An interesting start to what might have been a challenging investigation, but I found the working out of the rest of the story both overplotted and underwhelming, along with yet another mundane solution. You’re going to have to count me as being among the not-so-very-big fans of the Simon Ark stories.


Previously in this Martin Greenberg anthology: JOHN JAKES “No Comment.”