Created by John M. Floyd
In the Shamus Award-winning short story, “Mustang Sally,” former cop turned private eye THOMAS LANGFORD (and his “long-time and infinitely patient girlfriend” Debra Jo Wells) get in way over their heads in what even the author agrees is a “lighthearted, its only crime being an off-screen jewelry-store heist.”
Maybe it is lighthearted, but it’s a damn good lighthearted tale, a sweet little charmer (only 3200 words or so), if you can say that about a story that revolves around the, er, digestive process of a skinny black-and-white spotted dog with one ear missing.
The characters are nicely handled–we only know enough to move the story along, and Thomas himself is an affable sort I wouldn’t mind seeing again, a reluctant gumshoe whose old Camaro doesn’t always start, and is occasionally bewildered by the cases he reluctantly takes on. “I had studied accounting in college,” he laments at one point, “I could be doing someone’s taxes right now.”
The author says Thomas (and Debra Jo) will return, which a good news. It’s not some earth-shattering, high-stakes, play-for-keeps story, but it’s a well-written and easy-going yarn, set somewhere–I think–in the hot sticky South–a shaggy dog tale that goes down really easy. A few more just like it would sure hit the spot.
Coincidentally, the story first appeared in Black Cat Mystery Magazine‘s first-ever “Special Private Eye Issue,” which also featured some stories by Andrew Welsh-Higgins, Josh Pachter, O’Neil De Noux, Graham Powell and others, plus a nifty Percy Hand reprint from Fletcher Flora.