(First in a series about writing the Max Hurlock Roaring 20s Mysteries)
After my book Master Detective was published, I decided to stick with the facts in my future works, but to maybe improve on them a bit. In the course of researching Master Detective I found numerous real life cases that read like fiction. Why not write a series of mysteries based on some of these real crimes? And why not set the cases in the Roaring 20s with Prohibition, bootleggers, flappers, and bathtub gin? Of course the detective would have to be someone who lives where I do, Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The area was a hotbed of moonshining and rumrunning during that time and is full of fascinating places and history.
So I set out to find my detective. He had to have a name that evoked the area, and, because I like wordplay, the name should rhyme with Sherlock so people could call him Sherlock ______. There was no other name than Hurlock, a local town that was once a railroad and shipping hub. But how about a first name? Nothing seemed to fit so I put off making that decision for the time being. The next question was how to tell the reader what Mr. Hurlock is thinking as he investigates. There are two classic methods. One is to have the detective narrate in the first person. You know the routine: something like “I woke up with a throbbing head and no answers to the question of who killed the colonel? Every lead I tried had come up empty.”
The other method is to have a sidekick, or a Dr. Watson type to discuss the developments and thereby reveal what the detective is thinking and why. This seemed more promising because it allows for the detective to exchange opinions and allows the scene to occasionally shift elsewhere if needed.
But how to find a sidekick when I still didn’t even have the detective’s first name?
Check back later for the exciting answer! (Well, it was exciting to me.)