Over at the “Crime Book Club” message boards on the Barnes & Noble website, Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardai has started up a round-robin hardboiled mystery called “Passing the Torch” with a guy walking into the narrator’s office and collapsing dead on the floor. From there, the story already been expanded upon with contributions from fellow mystery writers Duane Swierczynski and Jason Starr, but you don’t have to be a pro to participate—any reader is invited to move the plot forward with a few paragraphs. “I’m not promising that the story will make a ton of sense when we’re all done,” Ardai wrote when he told me about the venture over the weekend, “or even that it will ultimately get completed, given that things like this sometimes peter out, but we do plan to have fun along the way.” So far, they’re off to a pretty good start.
(And, yes, I know that technically this isn’t a true example of “exquisite corpse” technique, because that depends on contributors knowing next to nothing about what their predecessors did. But it worked for the headline.)