Duncan Haynes, aka Dirk Wyle

Gore Vidal decries the academic "creative" writer.  He thinks writers should have to make it on their own in the big world.  Using this yardstick, I think Gore'd be pretty happy with Florida mystery writers.  They come from varied backgrounds, including some such as James O. Born who are actually working cops.  Unhappily for Gore, we have our academic writers, and two of the best are the very sorts of people he claims to have no use for.  Those two are professors of creative writing at Florida International University, Les Standiford and James Hall, both much admired by Florida mystery fans and very successful writers, one or both of whom may end up here one day.  The person this column is presently devoted to is another academic, but altogether of a different sort, one that Gore would wholeheartedly approve of.  He's Duncan Haynes, formerly a tenured professor at the University of Miami--in a medical technical field. 

Dr. Haynes has an immaculate academic pedigree.  After receiving a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in microbiology (I believe) at a very young age, he went off to Germany to do postdoctoral work.  He was so young at the time that the townsfolk called him Herrdoctorstudenten or Mister-doctor-student. Aside from that moniker he also acquired a lovely wife, Gisella. Back in the states, he was appointed to a tenure track position at the University of Miami where he taught and did research for over twenty years.  His research resulted in a number of patents--I seem to recollect the number is over fifty--but whatever the number the result was that Dr. Haynes was able to retire much earlier than most of us and pursue a second career.  The career he chose to take up was the writing of mystery novels, and thereby enhancing the already quite rich field of Florida mystery fiction.  To keep his various lives separate, he chose the pen name of Dirk Wyle.  
   
I first met Dirk (as I know him) at the gatherings of the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America.  He was invariably dressed, as shown above, in sport jacket--this in Florida where everyone else had on shorts and occasionally even less--and where also famous mystery writers and wannabes meet and mingle freely.  Still, those clothes were a bit off-putting and I doubt if I would ever had said boo to the man but my mystery novel about orange juice had a scientific component in it, and so it was passed off to Dirk to review.  I'm pleased to say he found the science in it credible and, even better, that he liked the book and gave it a favorable review, which was published by Orchardpress.com. Naturally, after that I made a point of saying a few words at the chapter meetings I got to, but it wasn't until his Amazon Gold came out that I really got to know and appreciate Dirk. He gave a book signing at a book store a few miles from my home.  The least I could do, I thought, was stop by and buy a book to support him.   
   
Pleasant chap that he turned out to be, he insisted we repair to a nearby tavern and hoist a few beers, which even better he insisted on paying for, for reasons I never figured out.  The photo to the right, though taken in the Amazon, is a better representation of the Dirk I came to know.  Perhaps because of his sojourn in the Amazon, Dirk (Duncan) and Gisella signed on for the next Sister Cities tour of Campeche, Mexico and vicinity.  During a week of touring Maya ruins and the jungle fastness of lower Mexico, Dirk revealed himself as an extremely likable and complex character with a special insight into almost everything.  For instance, his hometown is Indianapolis, as is Kurt Vonnegut's, and he had a couple of good Vonnegut stories that added appreciably to how I think of that iconic American writer. I must also say I'm impressed with Dirk's energy and the absolute discipline he pours into his books.  His Ben Candidi series has sold tens of thousands of volumes, almost everyone of which--I'd imagine--Dirk himself is responsible for by working the hustings.  My favorite of his series is Amazon Gold, no doubt reflecting my own interest in such places, but my favorite title is Medical School is Murder.  I defy anyone to write a better title.  For more info including ways to order his books, consult Dirk's website at:  http://www.dirk-wyle.com.
   
Florida Writers Archives:  Tim Dorsey, Charles Willeford  
   

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