The idea for “The Man in the Gray Tie” (the title story for The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes) was a memory of visiting the English countryside. There was a small auction house in North Yorkshire that captured my imagination, nestled away under some trees and quite posh-looking. I didn’t go inside, but the memory lingered….
It was the combination of this setting and reading Roald Dahl’s short stories that inspired me, in particular Dahl’s “Parson’s Pleasure” (starring the unforgettable Mr. Boggis). In that story, a man tours the English countryside ripping people off–mostly taking their antique furniture. I created a similar character in Dr. Sidney Holton, someone who is not motivated by money, but rather the thrill of duping other people. His victim in this case is the affluent auction house, whoever owns it.
What would happen, Dr Holton wonders, if he bids up the prices at the auction house…for his satisfaction. Well, what happens is not what he expects. This time, in taking his wife’s beloved dog into the auction, his plan backfires. Since the animal’s is his wife’s pride and joy (more than he is), he has something to lose more than his integrity, yet somehow more to gain than embarrassment…
Check out this first story at “The Man in the Gray Tie.”