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WHAT THE WALRUS SAID--Our Authors' Blog--




My latest mystery novel, Star Nose, is just out—it's about a child under threat.


Killers murdered his mother. Now they're hunting him. He's a troubled seven-year-old who trusts no one…except a Pembroke Welsh corgi.  


That's Henry. He's the housemate of the novel's protagonist, Cooper North, just retired as a prosecutor, but still in the game. Here's a confession: in my various novels,  Henry is the only character borrowed from real life.  


He's an avatar of our own corgi housemate, Nosmo, who pops up in most of my novels, under various aliases.  


Here's why: we both loved Nosmo. Also, maybe Shakespeare or Dickens could invent a character like him, but I couldn't. So much personality in that short-legged body.


Preternaturally astute eyes, for one thing. You could see him thinking. And he had extraordinary empathy. He felt what you felt.  


At midnight once, I came back from the hospital where Joyce was under treatment for acute myelogenous leukemia. At that point, decades ago, her odds of surviving were four percent. I felt low, and weary. I dropped into bed, instantly unconscious.


At three a.m., I jolted awake. Nosmo sat beside the bed, silent, but staring intently at me. Seeing me awake, he virtually nodded, then trotted off to the stairs, looking back to make sure I understood.


I did. Wearily, still not wholly awake, I followed him downstairs, then out the back door. While he did his business out in the darkness—that's why he'd summoned me awake—I sat hunched on the deck's steps, head in hands. Gradually, I felt warmth—Nosmo, leaning against my side.


I don't know how he soundlessly woke me, just by willing it, or conveyed he needed to go out. What I did know then, and know now, was that Nosmo felt my misery and hopelessness. He leaned his warm body against my hunched body to offer solace.


He's still with us. He's in this new novel, Star Nose, under a different name—offering an unhappy child solace.



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So here we are, like so many others, sheltering in place.


Every so often—masked and gloved—one of us ventures out to the grocery store. We don't need to stop often at the gas station, these days.   


We drive into town to walk less frequently. It's depressing. This once bustling community's now a ghost town, no stores open except the pharmacies, empty parking spaces everywhere, just a few walkers hurrying by, masked like us.


Here's what the coronavirus epidemic has taught us—


It's the people around us who truly matter in our lives.  


Friends, certainly, and we keep in touch via telephone and e-mail. It's others, too, though. People we may have taken for granted, who now seem essential.   


Three cheers for the billionaire tycoon who invents a new internet company, or an electric car. Bravo to the actor who wins an Oscar. However, they're in another galaxy, far away.  


Michelle cuts Joyce's hair—she's important to us. Also, our lawn-service team, and the fuel-truck driver who keeps us warm. There's Jim, all-around fixer (carpenter, electrician, plumber), upon whom we rely, totally. Then, an appreciative nod to all the mask-and-glove-wearing workers at the health-food co-op and the supermarket, who stock the shelves and answer our questions and check us out, and stay cheerful.


We shouldn't forget Joyce's cousin, who drives a propane-delivery truck, but always has with him a special telephone, because he's a volunteer EMT and, any time, day or night, a call can come in: somebody's life needs saving.


If we still lived in the city, we'd be appreciating the bus drivers and subway drivers who every day put on a mask and go to work, knowing that it may be today they take a viral bullet.


Nurses, too, of course, and physicians, and hospital staffs. Police officers, firefighters….


We live in a celebrity obsessed culture. We hope  this pandemic, amidst all the terrible damage, helps us realize it's unsung people around us who really should be sung. Because, in our actual daily lives, it's they who matter.


Our society is them. Among them are heroes.  


When all this is over, we'll try to remember.   


--Richard and Joyce

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