The First Two Pages: “The Mercy of Thaddeus Burke” by David Dean

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

David Dean has long been one of my favorite short story writers—and one of my favorite people in the mystery short story world.

I first met David at one of Dell Magazine’s pre-Edgar cocktail parties, where Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine honors the winners of its annual Readers’ Poll, and on the train home from New York, I read David’s then-new story for EQMM, “Ibrahim’s Eyes”—which frankly blew me away. It remains one of my top-ten “stories that stuck,” memorable and moving and utterly unforgettable. (You can listen to a recording of the story here.)

Since then, David’s stories—and he’s prolific!—are always the first ones I read whenever he appears in the pages of EQMM. His latest story, “The Mercy of Thaddeus Burke,” which he discusses here at the First Two Pages today, is part of a series focused on the world of Irish gangsters; the other stories, which all appeared in EQMM, include “The Assumption of Seamus Tyrrell” (March/April 2014), “The Salvation of Seamus Tyrrell” (January 2016), and “The Long Wake” (September/October 2016).

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay here to read off-line.

Dean Mercy

3 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “The Mercy of Thaddeus Burke” by David Dean

  1. David Dean

    I’m pleased to have been invited, Art, and thanks for the very kind, and generous, introduction. I’ve just gotten back home from a week with the grandkids, and spent the morning racing an engine warning light home–hence the delay in responding. I was passing through the City of Brotherly Love when it happened and didn’t dare stop. I-476 is a roadway where traffic obstructions quickly become speed bumps for the cheerful motorists who transit that happy place. I’m pleased to report that Robin and I made it safely home to find the house still standing, untouched and un-torched, by the neighbors and other well-wishers. I live to write another day.

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