I have read all of John Harvey's Charlie Resnick novels, including this year's Darkness, Darkness in which Harvey retires Charlie for what he tells us is forever. But until now, I have never read one of the Charlie Resnick short stories.
I noticed Sunday that the August 2015 edition of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine leads off with a new Charlie Resnick story called "Going Down Slow." Interestingly, as the story opens, the action in it seems to be taking place shortly before (or is it shortly after) the action of the final novel's main plot. It is the rather sad story of the slide to moral destruction of the nephew of a man Charlie's known for decades. If that's not bad enough, the same friend, a former coal miner, soon learns that he has terminal lung cancer - and that his remaining time will be measured in just a few short weeks.
I liked the story mainly because it was so good to visit Charlie again, a chance to see another major event or two from his life/career that are new to me even as a longtime fan of the series. It does make me wonder, though, if new readers, those who come to the short story never having heard of Charlie Resnick or his creator, will enjoy the experience as much as I did. Will the story, as a standalone, be enough of a kick start to motivate new readers to read the whole series of novels. I hope so.
I read a whole lot of short stories...in magazines and book collections, both...and I've met some characters that I later found out were the subjects of novels, even series, all their own. If I enjoyed the short story, I jumped all over the novels. I wonder if that's why authors so often write shorter pieces about their favorite characters...and why more writers don't take this approach.
Does it work that way for you, too?
There are about another dozen Resnick short stories out there, and I'm going on a search for copies of the rest of them. I suspect this may take a while.