“Look, uh, Arthur, is it? Detective novels are a penny a dozen, and besides, the US market will never buy into some limey doofus for an MC. Unless it’s humor. Is it humor?”
The hopeful writer ignored the “limey” comment. “I go by Conan, and no, it is not humor. It’s a literary crime novel.”
The editor’s muttonchops jiggled as he laughed. “Literary crime, indeed.”
“Yes, sir, indeed so. The primary character is quite conflicted. He’s a loner, but he loves to study people and what makes them tick. He’s also a chemist, and his methods are revolutionary. He solves crimes in singular fashion.”
“Of course he does. So does everybody’s MC solve crimes in singular fashion. You gotta have a hook, man.”
“Yes, well, he’s a different sort of chap. He uses observation and deductive reasoning to solve crimes, you see. He’s brilliant, and, in his own brooding way, charming. And he occasionally employs a pack of kids from the neighborhood to be his spies. Very original, if I might say so.”
“Gimme a break, little kids? How scary is that?”
“It’s not scary, it’s clever.”
The editor burst into hearty laughter. He laughed from the gut until his face was red and he wheezed for air and tears streamed down his face. He wore himself out and finally caught his breath.
“Clever?” he said. “That’s the best you’ve got is clever?”
The writer bowed his head.
The editor shoved the manuscript across the desk. “Sounds lovely, but not right for me. Good luck with it.”
“He’s also a cokehead.”
The editor’s eyes lit up. “Well, hell, why didn’t you say so?”