The R.J. And Ginny Carr stories by S.L. Franklin, though not widely known, have a substantial readership through their appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine over the course of many years. In addition, several novels and a collection of short stories are available in paperback or as e-books at Amazon/Amazon Kindle. An early story, “Rookies Know Everything”, was the Blotter contest winner for 1993, and “Deadline Edition” was one of three finalists for the Shamus Award as best private eye story of 2009.
Among the aims of these stories and novels has been a desire to test out a specific hypothesis: namely, to find out whether an appreciation exists for detective fiction grounded in a particular type of realistic environment, namely the arena of the everyday world in which real people live — where, for example, neither house cats nor medieval monks ply the detective trade; where pathetic, cartoon-like men and women do not perpetually trap themselves in webs of petty iniquity; where cardboard cut-out master criminals seem notable for their absence; and where, instead, characters great and small are rounded into a semblance of human rather than stereotypical fictional shape and where serious emotions, ideas, and motives both underlie the sea of action and float upon its waters in the form of expressed thought.
To put this premise into more exact terms, most Carr detective stories start off with a particular “what if”. What if real people with real human weaknesses and strengths, thoughts and feelings, were suddenly to find themselves in the artificially melodramatic strictures of a mystery plot? How would they behave? What would their thoughts and feelings be? How would the action advance?
Not merely R.J. and Ginny Carr, but also R.J.’s clients, the victims and victimizers in whatever crimes are committed, and those witnesses who contribute to the solution are all meant to act out of human, not conveniently plot-advancing motives. This means, among other things, that grief, loss, fear, shock — all the messy emotional baggage that surround violent acts in the real world but most often are passed over lightly in mystery fiction — these have a weighted presence and bear upon the action. Similarly treated: the characters’ world views and prejudices, personal histories and emotional ties.