A double-barreled collection—two of Edward D. Hoch’s most ingenious creations In the headquarters of Britain’s Foreign Office, a secretary spies a television actor making a copy of a top-secret key. In an island republic, an intelligence operative is murdered just minutes before exposing a Communist mole. And in a bustling eastern city, the Cold War reaches a turning point over a piece of film the size of a pinhead. These are cases for C. Jeffery Rand, the fixer inside Britain’s secret service. He is bright, ruthless, and smart enough never to be surprised by the depths to which an enemy spy might sink. Where Jeffery Rand is hard-nosed, Nick Velvet has a supple touch. A master thief, Velvet has a particular skill for stealing unusual items. Where ordinary thieves might be content with jewels or bank notes, Velvet pilfers rare tigers, water from swimming pools, and the letters on a company sign. In this collection, you will find seven stories of Rand and seven of Velvet—two brilliant men, one on either side of the law, each with a knack for doing the impossible.
About the author
Edward D. Hoch (1930–2008) was a master of the mystery short story. Born in Rochester, New York, he sold his first story, “The Village of the Dead,” to Famous Detective Stories, then one of the last remaining old-time pulps. The tale introduced Simon Ark, a two-thousand-year-old Coptic priest who became one of Hoch’s many series characters. Others included small-town doctor Sam Hawthorne, police detective Captain Leopold, and Revolutionary War secret agent Alexander Swift. By rotating through his stable of characters, most of whom aged with time, Hoch was able to achieve extreme productivity, selling stories to Argosy, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, which published a story of his in every issue from 1973 until his death. In all, Hoch wrote nearly one thousand short tales, making him one of the most prolific story writers of the twentieth century. He was awarded the 1968 Edgar Award for “The Oblong Room,” and in 2001 became the first short story writer to be named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.
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