In “A Little Wildness” I tried to create a typical Hannibal Jones story. That means it had to be a fast-paced tale of mystery set in the gritty, dark world of hardboiled fiction. The story needed to have social relevance, since hardboiled detectives often have to walk between the worlds of the haves and have nots, the upright and the professionally criminal. It had to have action, but be rooted in well drawn, solid characters. And it had had to be a true mystery, with clues the sharp reader would pick up, an “Ah ha!” moment when all is revealed, and an ironic twist at the end. Oh, and I needed to do all that in about 7,000 words, not the 80,000 or so I was used to working in.
And of course, it had to be a good introduction to Hannibal Jones. Like most hardboiled detectives, he’s a guy who knows there’s a job to do, and he’s the only one who can get it done. He may be a tough guy, but he knows what’s right and wrong. He’s on a quest for the truth, or justice, or simply against the evil of the world. He has a clearly defined moral code, even if it’s only clear to him. He may shoot a man in cold blood, but he’ll never park in a handicap space, dishonor a lady or turn his back on a person in real trouble.
The story kicks off when a femme fatale strolls into Hannibal’s office to hire him. An innocent man is being tried for murder and she could be his alibi except that her husband, the mobster, should never find out about the other man. Hannibal gets on the trail of the facts and is closing in on the truth when the second murder takes place. There are plenty of suspects and lots of good clues but the killer’s identity will still surprise you.
Did I manage to pack it all into a short story? You can only find out if you buy “A Little Wildness” now. Read it, and let me know if I succeeded by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. And learn more about Hannibal Jones mysteries here.