EDWARD D. HOCH (b. 1930)
Edward D. Hoch began writing short stories while a high-school student in Rochester, New York; kept at it as a student at the University of Rochester; persisted in the practice during a stint in the army; and finally-while working for an advertising agency-sold «The Village of the Dead» to «Famous Detective.» The year was 1955, Hoch was twenty-five, and his trouble selling his stories was behind him. Although his stories were selling well, he continued to work in advertising and public relations, not taking the plunge into full-time writing until 1968.
It's ironic that the man who was to become such a prolific author of short stories should begin his career just as the great market for short fiction was in its death throes. «Famous Detective» was one of the last of the scores of pulp magazines that had crowded the drugstore racks and newsstands for generations and had been the primary source of income for literally thousands of American writers. The pulps began to die in the early 1950's as television siphoned away their audience, and the decline of the 'slick magazine' market-»Saturday Evening Post, Collier's,» and others-soon followed. Despite this, from 1955 to 1957, Hoch published twenty-five more stories. He wrote under a variety of pen names and was one of the many writers of the day who used the «Ellery Queen» pseudonym.
Hoch is the ultimate 'writers' writer.' He has written five novels; science-fiction, fantasy, and detective stories; and non-fiction. He is now near the 800-mark in short-story output. He has produced whatever the market is buying, but has made his name in the detective short story. He prefers them, he has said, because he can do one in "a week or two," while a novel requires three months and "I find myself losing interest about halfway through."
«Christmas Is for Cops» comes as close to typifying Hoch's work as is possible for such a versatile writer. It was written for the Christmas-story market, contrasting the good will of the season with the evil of murder. It features Captain Leopold, star performer in one of Hoch's series. It focuses on a single idea, and it follows the tenets of the classic tale of detection, with the clues honestly presented and the crime solved by deduction.