The Walt Lincoln Mystery Series
By David M. H. Butler
The Walt Lincoln mysteries were started when my brother Nathan and I branched out from writing stories about Dick Tracy and developed heros of our own. While we wrote prodigiously between 1962 and 1970, the stories were fairly weak; took place in areas I had never visited, and rarely had more than a single story line. Most of the stories were drawn in comic fashion, but after discovering Nancy Drew mysteries we tried our hand at what we called "written-out stories." Looking back on those stories it appears that I was more worried about the format of the books rather than the content. All chapter had to be 4 pages, a picture appeared on the third page of each chapter and the stories were generally 64 pages long.
In 1971 in a moment of inspiration, I rewrote two of my earlier stories, disregarding any notion of formatting. When I felt a scene was complete I simply inserted a couple of stars and launched into the next scene.
In 2000 after telling Robin Nelson, a writer-friend at work, about these stories, I was again inspired to see what I could do with Walt and company. I picked a story that was originally a drawn story and put it into words. I was hooked and thus came the following set of stories.
|Ghost of the Lagoon
|Walt is called in when several detectives mysteriously disappear at a lonely old lagoon. The story holds pretty faithful to a 1971 re-write, but was revised slightly in 1986 and illustrations were added in 2000.|
|Theft of the Australian Kangaroos
|Walt and his wife Jackie win a trip for two to Australia. He is quickly embroiled in a mystery of disappearing kangaroos. Some interesting background: Mitch Crenshaw who is listed as the publisher of the local newspaper, is in fact my best friend. Graham Noyes, the Australian who contacts Walt, was bizarrely named "Don American" in the original story. My brother Nathan who had recently been to Australia suggested Graham as it seemed every third man you met had that name. Though extensively re-written in the summer of 2000, I kept most of the original tone of the 1971 story, including their honeymoon-esque banter between Walt and Jackie.|
|Seven Year Sea Fort Affair
|A strange craft is found at the bottom of the ocean. Walt is asked to make discrete inquiries. This was originally a drawn story from the late 60's. The story's undersea exploits were supported by information from Bob Bringhurst a friend at work who was a diver. In appreciation I named the Coast Guard commander after him.|
|The Last Yesterday
|Jackie's Uncle Cedric dies under mysterious circumstances in a small town in central France. Walt and Jackie go to help her aunt and help solve the mystery. This story draws on letters written by my Grandfather when he was stationed in France during World War I. I also drew on a trip that my wife Ruby and I took to St. Amand-Montrond, France to visit the town where he was stationed.|
|Walt's son Peter has just moved to Edinburgh, Scotland to attend University. A pretty woman he meets at a high-tech company suddenly goes missing and Peter agrees to try and track her down. This was the first story where I really tried to add romance as a sub-plot. I visited Scotland twice: once with my brother Nathan and again with Ruby. We did quite a bit of hiking both times which gave me plenty of fodder for this story.|
|Walt's daughter Joni is living in Hawaii with her husband and running a whale watching business. An aqua lung explodes on their boat killing their friend and only employee. The story is named for one of the more famous fish of Hawaii. Ruby and I visited three of the islands over as many years. I was most impressed with the Big Island and the volcano dropping lava into the sea.|
|We step back a few years to when all the kids are still living at home and the family takes a trip to New England. When the stop off at the Sleeping Giant park in Connecticut they discover two bodies at the bottom of a ravine. A college and an environmental group were vying for the dead couples land. But does an ancient tunnel behind their house hold the real clue to solve this mystery? I grew up in Connecticut and spent many days at Sleeping Giant while living in New Haven. I took liberties with the facts and geography but tried to keep it plausible.|
|Stepping back even further, we meet Walt and Jackie as teenagers and learn how they met. A shoe that could be from sky-jacker D.B. Cooper and a stolen statuette from the Burke museum in Seattle weave a mystery that takes the two from Seattle to the San Juans and the Olympic peninsula. I dug back to my early days in Seattle to try and evoke the earlier time and find props for this story.|
|A Wrong Turn at Albuquerque
|A documentary about a plane crash in Albuquerque, New Mexico, draws the young Walt and Jackie to visit the site of the crash in the Sandia Mountains. An old girlfriend shows up and then disappears, a man is found dead in the mountains and tales of counterfeiting soon embroil our heros in another mystery. I lived in Eugene Oregon and Albuquerque New Mexico in 1975. This story pulls many small details from those travels.|