The questions I’m asked most often about my new crime novel, Rogue Island, are: “How long did it take to write?” and “How did you find a publisher?”

“That figures,” a friend quipped.“Nobody wants to read a book anymore, but everybody wants to get published.”

Dear Ed McBain,

I recently re-discovered your 87th Precinct novels. Man. Let me tell you. While you never really scaled the literary heights like, say, Pynchon, Wolfe, or Seuss, that was a solid series you had going on there.

It was a sad day when you succumbed to laryngeal cancer. I didn’t know that until I’d looked you up on Wikipedia. I didn’t know you wrote the screenplay to The Birds, either. How about that!

Apparently you fell out with Hitchcock over a scene in the adaptation of the novel Marnie. Don’t feel too bad. Hitchcock and Chandler fell out too. Chandler is quoted as saying ‘Look at that fat bastard trying to get out of his car!’, so I’m going to assume that the relationship wasn’t a good one.

Now that I think about it, that’s pretty mean. Hitchcock struggled with his weight all his life.

Still, as an impartial observer, and from what I’ve read of your books, you’d appreciate it as a scene, if nothing else.

I like the way that your characters unfold across the books. Poor Bert Kling. He was a nice guy – why’d you go and give him such a hard time? Then again, you were nothing if not a good observer of the unfairness of life. And you seemed to have such sympathy for people. Affection, even.

I don’t think I’d call you a great writer, Ed. A solid writer, for sure. And a great storyteller. That’s a pretty good combination, and I’m glad you were around. I don’t even really read crime fiction as a rule, but then, I guess there’s always an exception. I’m glad you’re mine.