The First Two Pages: “The Only Living Boy in New York” by Tom Mead

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.

Last week, Frank Zafiro offered up an essay on his story “A Hazy Shade of Winter,” kicking off a series of First Two Pages posts by contributors to the new anthology Paranoia Blues: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Paul Simon, edited by Josh Pachter and published by Down & Out Books. This week, the series continues with Tom Mead reflecting on some of the research he did for his story “The Only Living Boy in New York”—and reflecting as well on how this story, dark and noirish, stands in contrast to his usual work.

As Tom explains in the essay below, he usually writes “whodunits in the vein of John Dickson Carr or Ellery Queen”—including his highly acclaimed debut novel, the locked-room mystery Death and the Conjuror, and his recently announced forthcoming follow-up, The Murder Wheel. Tom has also published short fiction in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, among other venues. You can find out more about his work at his website.

Paranoia Blues features a wide range of crime writers, including E.A. Aymar, Martin Edwards, Cheryl A. Head, Edwin Hill, Racquel V. Reyes, and Gabriel Valjan, among many others—all writing stories inspired by Simon’s music, both from his years as half of Simon & Garfunkel and then as a solo artist.

Tom’s essay below is a winner, and I particularly loved his walk through some of the terrific conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s—I’m a fan as well! And stayed tuned for more essays in the coming week by Cheryl A. Head and Edwin Hill too.

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

Tom-Mead

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