Scott Montgomery is today's guest blogger and co-author of Two Bodies One Grave, Bullet Books Speed Reads #9.
A legendary crime bookseller, Scott Montgomery runs MysteryPeople, the mystery bookstore within BookPeople. He also runs The Hard Word blog, covering hard boiled fiction. Always a crime fiction fan, Scott worked on the sales staff of the acclaimed and influential The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles for four years. He is a regular contributor to Crime Reads and his fiction has appeared on the site Shotgun Honey and in the anthologies Murder On Wheels, Lone Star Lawless, and Eyes Of Texas.
ALL BECAUSE OF A DOG by Scott Montgomery
Dogs have always been a part of crime fiction. Sherlock Holmes’ most famous case is The Hound Of The Baskervilles. Nick and Nora are not complete without Asta, and Spenser shares Pearl with Susan. In W.R. Burnett’s High Sierra, Roy “Mad Dog” Earle dies for a dog. Spencer Quinn even made one, Chet The Jet, the protagonist to his P.I. sidekick. It shouldn’t have come to a surprise when a dog affected my writing.
I co-wrote the novella, Two Bodies, One Grave, with Manning Wolfe for the Bullet Books Speed Reads series. I wrote the first draft of the hard boiled tale concerning Leonard “Knucks” Ellis, a hired killer who discovers a mysterious body in a grave he dug for someone else. Before he goes on his bloody quest for answers and vengeance, he goes home to grab his weapons and emergency money and feeds his dog. I needed a name quick, so I used the name of one of my friend’s, Bosco, knowing my buddy would get a kick out of it.
When Manning looked at the draft, she was concerned about two things. She didn’t feel there were enough female characters, suggesting a lawyer for Knucks. The other was she didn’t feel a human connection to him. I didn’t want to soften Knucks. He was written in the tradition of hard boiled anti-heroes like Dan J. Marlow’s Earle Drake and Richard Stark’s Parker. To solve the problem, I suggested we bring Bosco along. This lead to the line both Manning and I remember in our discussion- “You take the lawyer, I’ll take the dog.”
Bosco had more of an impact on the book than expected when he turned into a sidekick. He sniffed out trouble Knucks couldn’t see. He both rescued our hit man hero and had to be rescued by him. Knucks' mortal fate even changed by Bosco tagging along during the entire story, leading to a last line that tied everything together.
Bosco took Two Bodies, One Grave to the next level. Not only did he provide that human element, he added humor and a buddy angle to the story. I’m even thinking about doing a short story prequel for this country noir odd couple, “How Knucks Met Bosco”. Bosco proved you can always count on man’s best friend, even the fictional ones.
TWO BODIES ONE GRAVE
is available for purchase on Amazon.