Dennis Richard Murphy Passes Away

I’m going to crib from Jiro Kimura first:

Dennis Richard Murphy died of lung cancer on June 15 in Toronto,

Canada. He was a Canadian documentary filmmaker for Discovery, History

Television, and National Geographic. He started to write mystery short stories

after the turn of this century for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and Storyteller.

Several of his stories were nominated for the Crime Writers of Canada

Arthur Ellis awards, and he won the 2007 Arthur award for “Fuzzy Wuzzy”

(EQMM, August 2006). His first novel, DARKNESS AT THE BREAK OF NOON,

will be published posthumously in February 2009 from HarperCollins


Murphy, who was also a full-time faculty member of Centennial College and a producer on films such as THIRTY TWO SHORT FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD, is survived by his wife, Joanna, and his son, Adam. He and I were occasional email correspondents, and he was always unfailingly gracious, excited about his first novel selling to a major Canadian publisher and to his newfound success as a writer. The last time I heard from him was on February 28, when he thanked me for posting about his Canadian book deal – “a highlight for me as I begin the Long Walk.” Just a few weeks later he was diagnosed with the cancer that would kill him. “I’m devastated,” said Murphy’s agent Helen Heller when reached by telephone last night. “He was a terrific writer and I wish he had been able to see his first novel in print.”

For more on Dennis Murphy’s work, check out the Poe’s Deadly Daughters blog, where Sharon Wildwind interviewed him at length. His death is a tremendous loss to the Canadian crime fiction world, and to the mystery community as a whole.

UPDATE: Howard Shrier, whose debut mystery BUFFALO JUMP has just been published in Canada, offers his thoughts:

Dennis and I signed with Helen Heller within two weeks of each other —

a match/support group made his good friend and neighbor, Peter

Robinson. Helen, as you may know, is like a first editor for most of

her writers, and a demanding one. We went in lock-step over the next

two years, submitting drafts, revising drafts. Having beers in between.

The joke being that he’d drink any beer as long as it was Guinness.

Dennis was an amazing friend and support to me throughout the process;

I can only hope was I was somewhere near as good to him. What makes it

so awful is that he was poised for a great life: a book deal, a boat,

family and friends he loved and a teaching job with benefits.

My official book launch is tonight, but it will seem strange not to have him there.
UPDATE, June 19: According to the Crime Writers of Canada, there will be no funeral service for Murphy but a celebration of his life is planned at Feathers, a Toronto pub he was particularly fond of, on September 6, which would have been Murphy’s 65th birthday.