Aristotle “Soc” Socarides

Created by Paul Kemprecos

Maybe it was due to my childhood obsession for Sea Hunt, but I loved Paul Kemprecos’ books about ARISTOTLE “SOC” SOCARIDES, a part-time Cape Cod fisherman and deep sea diver who moonlights as a private eye — or is it the other way around? Anyway, somehow his adventures seem to always revolve around the sea, and offered great local colour, and some pretty sharp writing.

I mean, really. Scuba diving! Old Wrecks! Sharks! Underwater fights! Spearguns! Just the possibility of any — or all — of them happening had me hooked. I even introduced myself to the author and his wife in Toronto years ago at my first Bouchercon, back in the pre-internet days of 1992, and between stammering and mumbling and generally making a fool of myself, discovered that the author is a first generation American whose parents were Greek immigrants. He worked for over twenty years as a reporter and editor on various Cape Cod newspapers, and he and his wife often went skiing in the Laurentians and claimed to love Montreal (who doesn’t?). And I congratulated him on winning a Shamus for Best First Novel for Cool Blue Tomb (1991), and even got him to autograph a book. They were nice folks.

And, as I said, I loved those books. They’d won awards, they got good reviews and were generously blurbed (“There can be no better mystery writer in America than Paul Kemprecos,” according to Clive Cussler). So it was a mystery to me how I somehow came to believe he’d quit writing after only three or four paperbacks. Where’d they go?

As Kemprecos tells it:

Despite the accolades, the Soc series lingered in mid-list hell. By the time I finished my last book, I was thinking about another career that might make me more money, like working in a 7-11. Several months after the release of Bluefin Blues (the fifth and what appeared to be the final book in the series) Clive called and said a spin-off from the Dirk Pitt series was in the works. It would be called the NUMA Files and he wondered if I would be interested in tackling the job. My wife closed the deal when she said: “What else have you got to do?”

So that’s where he went to hide out. Straight to the bestseller lists, co-writing big juicy thrillers eight of ’em, in the NUMA Files series) with Clive Cussler (as his first co-author). No wonder I couldn’t find him — he wasn’t in the mystery section tucked away in the corner of Coles or W.H. Smith anymore — he was at the front of the bookstores, and hanging out on spinner racks all over town!

But imagine my surprise and excitement to discover that that in 2019, Shark Bait, the EIGHTH book in the Aristotle “Soc” Socarides series was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best P.I. Paperback Original!

Apparently, after an absence of twenty years, Soc made a return appearance in Grey Lady (2017), and now the follow-up to that one is a Shamus nom.

Not too shabby, Paul, not too shabby.

Hi Kevin. I was poking around the net today and discovered your delightful and informative website. Thanks so much for doing this. I’ve written eight books in the Aristotle “Soc” Socarides series. First book in the series won a Shamus award in best original paperback, and the 8th was nominated for the same award last year. My adventure The Minoan Cipher was nominated for a Thriller award a couple of years ago. In between cranking out my stuff, I collaborated on eight NUMA Files books with Clive Cussler as his first co-author, but I love the PI genre. A few years ago my wife and I were in San Diego and I spent half the time looking for Harry O’s digs! Rockford’s beach next time. Keep up the good work. Best wishes, Paul Kemprecos

NOVELS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Paul for dropping me a line.

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