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Clark Howard and a Review of His Short Story "Under Suspicion"

Updated on May 10, 2013
Clark Howard
Clark Howard | Source

Personal Life

Clark Howard was born in 1932. He is a native of Ripley, Tennessee but grew up in Chicago. He lived in many foster homes, most of which he ran away from, and often got into trouble. He became listed as a juvenile delinquent and sent to a reformatory. Later, he was allowed to live with his maternal grandmother back in Tennessee.Howard enlisted in the Marines at the age of 17. He went to battle in the Korean War and he was one of only eight survivors that survived a great battle while in the Marines. He was discharged at the age of 20. He enrolled at the University of Chicago in journalism under the GI bill, but left after one semester due to criticism from his professor.

Writing Career

Howard has been a professional writer for over 40 years. He's published over 20 novels and has written hundreds of short stories. Some of his stories have been adapted for film and some have been translated into foreign languages. He's won numerous awards, including The Edgar Allan Poe award in 1980, The Ellery Queen Readers Award on five different occasions, and the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2009.

A List of Some of Howard's Novels

  • The Arm, 1967. Difficult to find in print, unless you find a used copy.
  • The Doomsday Squad, 1970. About a military squad on a suicide mission.
  • Mark the Sparrow, 1975. About a man on death row for a sex crime who claims he is innocent.
  • Zebra, 1979. Recounts the horrifying killing spree known as the Zebra killings.
  • Brothers in Blood, 1983. True account of the Georgia Massacre of 1973.
  • Dirt Rich, 1986. About a man and his wife who are dirt poor and inherits some land from a strange man.
  • Quick Silver, 1988. About a boy who falls in love with a woman who, unknown to him, is really his sister.
  • Hard City, 1990. Based on much of Howard's life as a young boy.
  • City Blood, 1994. A detective investigates a murder while dealing with a terrorist who plants bombs on buses.
  • Challenge the Widow Maker and Other Stories of People in Peril, 2000. A collection of short stories about people who have had trouble dealing with the hand life dealt them.
  • Croweded Lives and Other Stories of Desperation, 2000. A collection of short stories about people, some ex-cons and some not, running from troubling situations.

Under Suspicion, A Short Story by Howard Clark

In this story, Clark Howard’s characters are detectives who tend to take the law into their own hands. Although his characters are generally seeking out justice, they don’t always follow the law to the letter in doing so. Howard shines a new light on detectives of the police procedural. Since his story is closer to reality than other stories we’ve read, Howard seems to be indicating that this is what happens in the real world. It’s as if he’s saying that police officers aren’t the saints that other authors or television shows make them out to be. They’re human, and just like other humans, they have flaws and self-serving tendencies. During the story, Frank Dell often broke the law to seek justice for Edie. We find out in the end that he’d been having a secret relationship with her, and he manipulated the entire investigation to keep his secret. He even goes so far as to give a false alibi to his partner and to the bartender’s nephew to keep his secret. Howard also seems to indicate that Dell has a type of personality in which he has to be in control of every situation. When the story starts, with Dell having a drink in the bar, he intimidates two guys into leaving because he thought they were hoodlums. He gave an excuse to Tim Callan that he was, “helping you keep the place respectful…” (438). During the investigation, although he seemingly leaves Kenmare and Garvan in charge, he basically manipulates it in a way where they are doing what he wants them to do. Howard shows another example of this when Dell “encourages” Malone to retire and move away. Howard does a great job of showing both sides of a police officer – the good side that people want to believe in, and the bad side that so often is hidden because the officer can manipulate the law to serve his needs.

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