Happy anniversary, Mac and Jeff! And happy birthday, Mac!
Ten years ago today was the official publication date for my first mystery novel, No Police Like Holmes, introducing amateur sleuth Sebastian McCabe and sidekick Jeff Cody. It’s now available perennially free on Kindle to introduce readers to the series. (Click here to order.)
The book is subtitled “Introducing Sebastian McCabe.” But it also introduces Jeff, Mac’s somewhat neurotic brother-in-law and best friend who narrates the stories with a breezy style and a disinclination to play the hero-worshipping Watson. By popular demand, Jeff has shared equal billing in the McCabe-Cody mysteries from the second book onward.
McCabe has been compared to Nero Wolfe, probably because of his girth and a formal manner of speech which makes his casual nickname of “Mac” rather anomalous. But I think he is more like Orson Welles in sense of being polymath. At his day job, he is a professor of English and head of the popular culture department at St. Benignus University (where Jeff is communications director) in a small Ohio River town. But he is also many things I tried to be, or wish I could be, or actually am. He is a mystery writer, a magician, a linguist, a father of three, a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, and – of course – an amateur sleuth.
Every McCabe-Cody book is a full basket of Sherlockian Easter eggs, including quotes from the Master and plot tropes from the Canon that often bear on the mystery in surprising ways. That connection is obvious in such titles as Holmes Sweet Holmes, The 1895 Murder, The Disappearance of Mr. James Phillimore, and – most recently – No Ghosts Need Apply.
There are now 12 published books in the series, two of which are case books including novellas and short stories. I hope the series doesn’t end until I do.
Because my characters age as time goes on (unlike Wolfe and Archie), they all have birthdays so that I know how old they are. Mac’s birthday is today, the publication day of his first adventure and also the birthday of my sister in crime Felicia Carparelli. Only years later did I learn that Nov. 9 is also the feast day of St. Benignus, the disciple and successor of St. Patrick and the namesake of Mac and Jeff’s employer.
That’s an interesting coincidence – if you believe in coincidence.