The First Two Pages: “Razing the Bar” by Leigh Lundin

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.

For our fourth and final essay celebrating Murder, Neat: A SleuthSayers Anthology, it’s a true honor to welcome one of the founding members of the SleuthSayers blog, Leigh Lundin, introducing his story “Razing the Bar.” Here, as with his blog posts (and behind the scenes, with his monthly emails to the SleuthSayers family), Leigh reveals his trademark mix of wit and irreverence and thoughtfulness. Even his bio is a joy to read! I won’t spoil any of that until you check it out yourself; instead, I’ll just focus on his short story publications in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and more—a distinguished career.

The essay below follows on the heels of David Edgerley Gates writing about his story “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” Melodie Campbell on “The Mob, the Model, and the College Reunion” and Lawrence Maddox on “Deep Time.”

And in addition to those four from the SleuthSayers family, Murder, Neat also features short fiction by co-editors Michael Bracken and Barb Goffman and Joseph D’Agnese, David Dean, O’Neil De Noux, Eve Fisher, John M. Floyd, Kristin Kisska, Janice Law, R.T. Lawton, Steve Liskow, Robert Lopresti, Bob Mangeot. Travis Richardson, Stephen Ross, Mark Thielman, Brian Thornton, Jim Winter, and Elizabeth Zelvin—plus my own story, courtesy of being a SleuthSayers alum.

Do check out the full anthology here—and congratulations again to all the contributors!

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.


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