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Edward D. Hoch: Dr. Sam Hawthone
Edward Dentinger Hoch (1930 – 2008) was an American writer of detective fiction. Although he wrote several novels, he was primarily known for his vast output of over 950 short stories. Hoch is the leading contemporary writer of true puzzle plot mysteries. He was also one of the greatest anthologizers of the locked room and impossible crime sub-genre, as well as the one who initiated the production of the top locked room mysteries list.
Hoch was born in Rochester, New York and began writing in the 1950s; his first story appeared in 1955 in ‘Famous Detective Stories’ and was followed by stories in ‘The Saint Mystery Magazine’. In January 1962 he began appearing in ‘Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine’. In December 1962 he kicked off his most successful collaboration, with the appearance of his first story in ‘Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’; in the years since, EQMM has published over 450 of Hoch’s stories, roughly half of his total output. In May 1973 EQMM began publishing a new Hoch story in every monthly issue; as of May 2007 the author had gone an astonishing 34 years without missing a single issue.
Other magazines Hoch wrote for included ‘Adventure’, ‘Double-Action Detective’, ‘Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine’, ‘Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine’, ‘The Magazine of Horror’ and ‘Web Detective Stories’.
Hoch was a master of the classic detective story, emphasizing mystery and deduction rather than suspense and fast action; EQMM has called him “The King of the Classical Whodunit.” His stories are very well written and are usually tightly plotted puzzles, with carefully and fairly presented clues, both physical and psychological. He was particularly partial to “impossible crime” tales, where to all appearances the crime (usually a murder) could not have been committed at all; he invented numerous variants on the locked room mystery popularized by John Dickson Carr and others. For instance, in “The Second Problem of the Covered Bridge”, a man is shot at close range while alone on a covered bridge, while crowds of witnesses watch both ends of the bridge. Hoch cited Graham Greene, John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen and Jorge Luis Borges as influences on his fiction.
Hoch also published magazine stories under the names “Stephen Dentinger”, “R. L. Stevens”, “Pat McMahon”, “Anthony Circus”, “Irwin Booth”, “R. E. Porter”, “Mr. X” and the House Name “Ellery Queen”. In many cases he also had a story under his own name in the same magazine issue. Hoch also wrote a novel published as Ellery Queen, under the supervision and editing of Manfred Lee, half of the writing partnership known as Ellery Queen.
In 2001 Hoch was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, the first time a Grand Master was known primarily for short fiction rather than novels.
Hoch, died at home in Rochester of a heart attack, aged 77.
(edited from Edward D. Hoch Wikipedia Article)
Dr. Sam Hawthone
Dr. Sam Hawthorne is a retired family practitioner who is also a specialist in impossible murders. His tales are told as reminiscences of his small-town medical practice in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Sam Hawthorne tries to live a quiet life in the fictional New England town of Northmont, but wherever he goes someone always seems to die in a most improbable way.
First appearing in 1974, the Dr. Sam Hawthorne stories are carefully researched historical pieces, rich with period details about Sam’s cars, medical practices of the times, politics, and clothing. The stories of this series are among Hoch’s most humane tales: Sam himself is a cheerful fellow and tells his tales with humor, but his first-person narratives give readers a close look at his distress at the murders he investigates and his sympathy for the survivors. Because most of the tales take place in a single small town, the series has a larger-than-usual cast of recurring minor characters.
Edward D. Hoch: Sam Hawthorne Uncollected
Note: As these are all uncollected stories, there are few reviews and very little information available on most of these titles. I have only read a few, so please help us develop this page by leaving your notes or comments on these titles in our comment section below – especially if the description is inaccurate! Thanks!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Aug 1991
One of the best mystery stories of 1991. Dr. Sam is called upon to investigate the disappearance of April’s child at a christening. The baptism of baby Sam has begun in the small country church, with friend and witnesses in attendance, but when the happy couple go to remove the baby from the basinet, it has been replaced with a doll – and a threatening message demanding $50,000!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, mid-December 1991
The Pilgrim Memorial Hospital is holding a fund raising dance at Grange Hall, with a big band from New York, called ‘Sweeney Lamb & The All Stars’. Dr. Lincoln Jones and the band’s trumpeter, Bix, are old high school classmates. Lincoln heads backstage during a break to get reacquainted, but when the break is over, neither Bix nor Lincoln has emerged from the locked dressing room. By the time the door is opened, Bix is dead and an empty syringe once full of codeine is lying on the floor. Jones is arrested by Sheriff Lens, but Dr. Sam Hawthorne is quite certain he is innocent.
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, August 1992
The house of the widow, Abbey Gaines, is at the end of a narrow lane and the car of James Philby, a travelling salesman of lightning rods, is blocking Dr. Sam’s path on a medical visit. He waits as Philby leaves the house and enters his car, but when the car still has not been moved 10 minutes later, he goes to investigate – and finds the car empty. Philby has disappeared right in front of his eyes!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, December 1992
Legend has it that a man dressed in tattered leather used to walk a route that took him thirty-four days to complete three hundred and sixty-five miles. Now it looks like he’s back. One man claimed to have spotted the leather man walking and joined him. It was too late to return to his car, so they stayed at a B & B. The next day the man died, but all involved agreed he was by himself… no leather man!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 1993
Another great Dr Sam story. A haunted house that dislikes a summer visitor, a missing room, and a murder that is not a murder.
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, December 1993. Not currently available on Amazon.
Ernest Holland, the successful newspaper publisher, has a beautiful pool and invites the citizens of Northmont every September. This time one of the party goes missing, only to later turn up dead due to cyanide poisoning.
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 1994
Jack and Becky were returning home to their apple orchard late one night. Becky was driving after Jack had a couple of drinks, and she apparently took wrong turn, landing them at an old style roadhouse with music blaring inside – where no such building could possibly exist! Impossible buildings were disturbing enough, but things took a turn for the worse after they bumped into a body that had been shot in the head!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, mid-December 1994
Also referred to as the exploding mail mystery! Josh’s bookstore has a home delivery service and Aaron is waiting for a copy of ‘War and Peace’, but when he goes to collect the familiar green paper package from his mailbox, he gets a very deadly surprise!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May 1995 & The Mammoth Book of Locked Room Mysteries, edited by Mike Ashley
Anthologized in ‘The Mammoth Book of Locked Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes’, a must read inexpensive ebook for every locked room fan. In this Dr. Sam case, a fresh corpse is discovered in a recently uncovered coffin that lay undisturbed in the ground for decades.
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, January 1996
A Pulitzer prize winning playwright and his wife, have bought a farm near Nothmont and ere enjoying the quiet rural life, until he is killed in the middle of a field by an enormous owl!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, August 1996
Proctor Hall and his wife have just returned from Europe as WWII begins. Rita Perkins throws a welcome home party and is rewarded with a souvenir jar that claims to change water into wine, repeating the famous miracle at Cana. Unfortunately, this miracle wine appears to have been laced with cyanide!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, April 1997
Winston Vance and his wife are travelling with Dr. Sam and Nurse Mary on a trip when they run into another bizarre incident. They first visit the Herman Melville whaling museum, then a nearby historic inn where an odd figure disappears in a flash of green lightening.
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 1998
As the war in Europe escalates, St. George’s convent in Northmont has take in a group of refugee British children, but when the mayor and Dr. Sam pay the nun’s a visit, it is soon quite clear that something very strange is going on behind the convent’s massive walls.
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, December 1998
As part of Northmont’s centenary, the original Problem of the Covered Bridge is re-enacted, and proves to be quite realistic when a man is shot at close range while alone on the covered bridge, with crowds of witnesses watching both ends.
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 1999
It is once again Harvest Festival time and the thirteen best scarecrows in the competition have been tied to lamp posts in Congress Park. At first it is all in good fun, then a few odd incidents take place, but it really becomes a problem only when the winning scarecrow shoots a passerby!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March 2000
‘Annabelle’s Ark’ is a new veterinary practice in Northmont, run by Annabelle Christie and her assistant, Ray Perkins. Dr. Sam is called in when a cat is impossibly strangled in one of the cages during the night, even though there is no sign of forced entry.
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, July 2000
Sheriff Lens thinks the body of a man shot inside the locked potting shed in his garden must be suicide, but Dr. Sam is not convinced.
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March 2001 & The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories: Third Annual Collection, edited by Ed Gorman
Hoch re-creates Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s famous tale of the yellow wallpaper as an impossible crime. Peter Haas has locked his mentally ill wife in an attic room to save her from herself, until Dr. Sam arrives with his friend, the NewYork psychiatrist, Doug Foley. When they are outside her door they clearly hear Catherine inside, but when the door is opened she has disappeared!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, August 2001
In a hospital room at Pilgrim Memorial Hospital, a female patient has been smothered with a pillow in the middle of the night. She had just been moved from another hospital room after complaints of ghostly visits two nights in a row. The new room was situated in direct sight of the nurse on the night shift, making it impossible for anyone to enter or exit without attracting attention. Is there a murderous ghost loose in Pilgrim Memorial?
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 2002
A man and a woman have recently moved into a rural cabin near Northmont, when they are identified as crooks from Chicago wanted by the FBI. Lens and Dr. Sam find the house completely locked, with the two dead bodies inside. A pistol is in the hand of the dead man, but he was not shot at close range!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, December 2002
The coffin of a war hero in Spring Glen cemetery is unearthed because it must be moved to the state capital, but when the coffin is opened it only contains the bones of a huge buzzard!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/ October, 2003.
Art and Kate Hale’s son had been killed at Pearl Harbor, but Kate Hale is convinced that medium Sandra Gleam allowed her son to talk to her during a séance in Boston. Dr. Sam, Sheriff Lens, and her husband, believe Sandra is a fraud and set a trap for her at a séance in the Hale home. Dr. Sam and Lens can only keep guard outside the small room, but the séance is soon interrupted by a loud noise and when the lights are turned on, Sandra is found with her throat cut! The only possible suspects are the Hales, but no sign of any weapon can be found after an exhaustive search!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, July 2004
It is November 1942, and Sheriff Lens is up for re-election and being strongly challenged by a younger former assistant, until his campaign manager is found dead inside a locked cabin containing only the lately departed and a caged chimpanzee!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, December 2004 & The Mammoth Book of Locked-Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes, edited by Mike Ashley
An old abbey near Northmont was destroyed by fire in 1921. One man was killed and Rusty Wagner was badly burned, but went on to become a famous villain in Hollywood! Now he is back in Northmont for a war bond drive, until he suffers a fatal heart attack just as he comes on stage – or is it not quite that simple?
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, July 2005
Sherlock Holmes, a wartime scrap iron drive, and a secret passage are all important parts of the impossible murder of Aaron Cartwright!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Jan 2006
A drunken Phil Fitz escapes from the Sheriff’s car and runs into the ‘Devil’s Orchard’ which is surrounded by an impassable fence, but after an exhaustive search, only his bloodied shirt is recovered. Did the Devil take him?
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September / October 2006
A curious tale about a man who cannot walk after being injured when he rolled a tractor, yet claims he will use a magic ring to kill another man, and even offers details – then, despite all the precautions taken, it comes off just as predicted!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, July 2007
In this story it is revealed that Sam is 80 years old, and has a daughter named Samantha. He is telling his stories in 1976, and he was born in 1896. This problem is concerned with a neighbour who apparently committed suicide in a lakeside cottage Sam had borrowed while his wife, Annabelle, was pregnant with Samantha. The place is now locally known as ‘The Suicide Cabin’, but the reader soon discovers that it was not really that simple!
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov 2007
It was a Saturday in late August 1944, and the 8th birthday of Scott Grossman’s nephew, Todd. The party was to be celebrated at his home, but when the family arrived the house was locked from the inside, and Scott could be seen lying on the floor in the kitchen. The Sheriff soon determines that he had been stabbed in the chest about an hour earlier, and the floor was very wet, but no weapon could be found – and the four year old daughter of a neighbour claims she saw a snowman enter the house around that time! This story won the Barry Award for Best Short Story of 2007.
Available only in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May 2008
An FBI special investigator arrives at Pilgrim Memorial Hospital. A German tycoon, Fuchs, is being monitored by the FBI and a 24 hour guard is set on his room, but before they can take him into custody, he dies of cyanide poisoning – even though every movement in or out of the room was recorded, so how was it possible to poison the man?