GEORGE C. CHESBRO. “Candala.” Robert “Mongo the Magnificent” Fredrickson. First appeared in An Eye for Justice, edited by Robert J. Randisi (Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1988: A PWA Anthology). Collected in In the House of Secret Enemies (Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1990).

   Mongo the Magnificent appeared in quite a few novels by author George C. Chesbro as well as short fiction such as this one. You may have read some of them, but in case not, I’ll introduce him to you formally now as Dr. Robert Frederickson, private detective, criminology professor, martial arts expert, ex-circus acrobat, and dwarf. A unique individual, to say the least.

   Most of the work that I’ve read in which he appears has always seemed to be, including the cases he takes as a PI, to have more than a hint of mysticism to them, whether it’s actually there or not. So it is with “Candala,” in which he plays a dual role as college professor as well as a PI.

   He’s hired by a girl from India whose would-be fiancé, one of Mongo’s better students, has suddenly shut her out of her life, and she wants to know why. [WARNING: Plot Alert] With even that small amount of build-up, it probably will not surprise you if I tell you that he has not found another romantic interest, but what has happened has roots in the caste system still endemic in their homeland (at least at the time the story was written).

   Most fictional PI cases involve cheating spouses, missing children, dealings with mob bosses and the like. This, as you can tell, is not one of them. There’s no overt mysticism in it, but the hint is there, and it turns out to be a case I’m sure Mongo will never forget.