Authors: Johm Howard Reid
Is Dead Lucky
A Novel of Thrills, Laughs and Detection
John Howard Reid
Entirely revised by the author, this book is Copyright 2015 by John Howard Reid
All rights reserved.
jthreid at gmail.
All characters in this work of fiction are solely the invention of the author. Both people and events described in this book bear no relationship –and are intended to bear no relationship whatever – to real people and real events.
Although originally published in England, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, India, etc., in 1990, this book has never before been published in America. USA/Canadian rights were sold, but these rights expired on Dec. 31, 2014.
Quotes on the back page are taken from this book’s original reviews in
The Times, The Canberra Times
The Sunday Mail
Cover photos feature actual views from Dune-Harrigan’s house on the hill.
Persons in the Novel
Denis Arnett, TV quiz contestant number three
Inspector Bryan Borne, Los Angeles Police Department
Bruce Brunsdon, TV quiz contestant number two
Zaraka Constanos, TV quiz contestant number five
Sedge Cornbeck, TV quizmaster
Everett Carmichael Dune-Harrigan, former professor, TV quiz contestant number six
Monty Fairmont, producer pal of director Ace Jellis, of
Strike a Fortune in Fifty-One States and Worldwide Districts
Brian “Bingo” Frobisher, floor manager
Trevor Holden, youthful assistant director
Ace Jellis, director pal of producer Monty Fairmont
Arthur (Boss) Kent, senior executive producer
Merryll “Merry” Manning, former police detective, TV quiz contestant number one
Sergeant Michaelson, Palm Beach police
Gino Paletti, young motor cyclist and thief
Peter Tunning, sponsor – Tunning’s Totally Tempting Travel Tour Tickets
Oscar Varnie, executive producer
Miss Kathie “Spookie” Williams, production secretary
Sally Wilmot, TV quiz contestant number four
Merryll Manning (1), Bruce Brunsdon (2), Denis Arnett (3), Sally Wilmot (4), Zaraka Constanos (5), Ex-Professor Carmichael Dune-Harrigan (6)
The steps recommenced. I heard their soft, light fall on the marble floor, the rustle of the silken gown, like the sound of dry leaves in an autumnal wind, and then I felt that this woman was standing in the arched doorway, looking straight at me through the darkness. “Why are you here?” It was the voice of the Contessa. I gave a cry of horror as I suddenly realized how ineffective the darkness concealed me from the eyes of this nyctalopist. – Fergus Hume (1859-1932):
A Creature of the Night
, Chapter X.
“And you are?” Sedge Cornbeck, the TV quiz M.C., hovered expectantly.
“Merryll Manning,” I answered, carefully reading from my cue card.
Yes, urban legend is true. Put a TV camera in front of any average Joe, and he’ll be fighting the shakes to remember his own name. And we weren’t even broadcasting! The letters on the cards were chalked up extra large too!
“And what do you do for a living, Merryll?” continued Sedge in a bored voice, nothing like the hail-fellow, well-met tones he used when the cameras were actually rolling.
“Call me, ‘Merry’, please!” But this was not the correct answer. I’d ignored the cue card.
“What do you do for a living, Merryll?” the M.C. repeated – in tones that seemed somewhat less comforting than his usual smooth-as-silver delivery.
“I’m a retired Miami police officer,” I read. This wasn’t quite true. I hadn’t retired. I’d left the Force voluntarily.
“Retired, eh?” the M.C. smirked.
“Yes, I am,” I insisted.
“You gave the police your best shot, eh?”
I was supposed to answer, “Too many shots, Sedge.” Unfortunately, my teeth chattered it out as “Too many shot, Shedge.” I could see the floor manager waving at me frantically behind the autocue. That didn’t help any, either! Just as well this was only a rehearsal.
“Bingo! Take it again!” the floor manager barked into his mike – even though he was standing only twenty feet or so away. In fact, the whole shiny stage was so fully sound-proofed, you could hear a whisper at fifty yards. “This time remember to wait for the laugh.”
“What laugh?” I asked in my normal voice.
“This afternoon’s laugh. The live audience!”
“We always – always! – play
show before a
audience, remember!” The nattily attired executive producer, Mr. Oscar Varnie, took pains to remind me.
“How else could you play it?” I asked.
“Many of our deceitful competitors – many of them! – don’t utilize a
audience. They rely on tapes, would you believe? Tapes!” Mr. Varnie replied in a ringing, almost vindictive tone.
“How long do I wait”.
“Ten seconds. Count ten in your head,” the floor manager advised. This time, I noticed he wore a button labeled “Bingo”.
I never realized TV was so complicated. It all looked so simple on the box at home. Too simple, in fact!
The cue cards were wound back. We took it again.
“Retired, eh?” began the M.C.
“Yes, I am.”
“Gave it your best shot, eh?”
“Too many shots, Sedge,” I said slowly but with pleasing clarity. I was getting the hang of it.
The M.C. creased his mouth into a broad smirk. “Bet you’re glad to get shot of that line of work?”
“Yes, I am,” I promptly answered.
“Wait for the laugh!” ordered the mike.
“He’ll be better this afternoon,” Miss Spookie Williams spoke up. “Spookie” for heaven’s sake! Presumably a stage name. Anyway, Spookie was the rather fetching production secretary who interviewed and shepherded us contestants.