Crossword puzzles used to consume much of my time, especially on Sunday mornings when the tough ones show up in The Denver Post. I did them in pen, no erasing. They sometimes ended in inky messes, where my mistakes were easy to see, but no one ever looked. On occasion, they were perfect.
Pencils are for those who know their limits.
I beat my addiction to crosswords and got hooked on Sudoku. The easiest ones became boring, and the evil ones just too damn hard. I did those in ink, too.
Sunday mornings nowadays are given over to more worthwhile pursuits, like writing and bicycling. This morning I decided to publish excerpts from my two Detective Red Shaw novels and then write this little post. The excerpts are from Blood Solutions, which grew out of my experience as a crossword-puzzle proofreader (someone had to do it), and North of Grand, some of which I figured out while riding my bicycle.
A man turns up dead in a bicycle storage locker on a muggy August morning and Detective Red Shaw takes the heat.
Shaw has just outsmarted a murderous sociopath who almost killed him. Now he has another homicide to investigate—while he’s hobbled by a sore knee, distracted by a steamy new romance, and dodging accusations of coercing a confession in an old case.
Shaw and his partner probe the sometimes toxic, competitive world of amateur bicycle racing, where they find a web of cryptic social media messaging, stolen property, drug trafficking, and murder.
A casual reader or distracted digital passerby might not ask why. It’s just a cat and just a bicycle. An experienced editor, like a good detective, wonders about the choices and the writer’s or the suspect’s reasoning.
Are the cat and the bicycle just eye-catching visuals or is there some deeper significance? Were the selections deliberate or careless?
In this case, a reader familiar with the writer’s work might recall the fate and symbolism of a yellow-eyed cat. The reader might also begin to wonder if the bicycle foreshadows something not yet revealed.