Aristotle “Soc” Socarides

Created by Paul Kemprecos

Maybe it was due to my childhood obsession for Sea Hunt, but I loved Paul Kemprecos’ books about ARISTOTLE “SOC” SOCARIDES, a part-time Cape Cod fisherman and deep sea diver who moonlights as a private eye — or is it the other way around? Anyway, somehow his adventures seem to always revolve around the sea, and offered great local colour, and some pretty sharp writing.

I mean, really. Scuba diving! Old Wrecks! Sharks! Underwater fights! Spearguns! Just the possibility of any — or all — of them happening had me hooked. I even introduced myself to the author and his wife in Toronto years ago at my first Bouchercon, back in the pre-internet days of 1992, and between stammering and mumbling and generally making a fool of myself, discovered that the author is a first generation American whose parents were Greek immigrants. He worked for over twenty years as a reporter and editor on various Cape Cod newspapers, and he and his wife often went skiing in the Laurentians and claimed to love Montreal. And I congratulated him on winning a Shamus for Best First Novel for Cool Blue Tomb (1991), and even got him to autograph a book. They were nice folks.

And, as I said, I loved those books. They’d won awards, they got good reviews and were generously blurbed (“There can be no better mystery writer in America than Paul Kemprecos,” according to Clive Cussler). So it was a mystery to me how I somehow came to believe he’d quit writing after only three or four paperbacks. Where’d they go?

As Kemprecos tells it,

Despite the accolades, the Soc series lingered in mid-list hell. By the time I finished my last book, I was thinking about another career that might make me more money, like working in a 7-11. Several months after the release of Bluefin Blues (the fifth and what appeared to be the final book in the series) Clive called and said a spin-off from the Dirk Pitt series was in the works. It would be called the NUMA Files and he wondered if I would be interested in tackling the job. My wife closed the deal when she said: “What else have you got to do?”

So that’s where he went to hide out. Straight to the bestseller lists, co-writing big juicy thrillers with Clive Cussler. No wonder I couldn’t find him — he wasn’t in the mystery section tucked away in the corner of Coles or W.H. Smith anymore — he was at the front of the bookstores, and hanging out on spinner racks all over town!

But imagine my surprise and excitement to discover that that yesterday (June 5, 2019), Shark Bait, the EIGHTH book in the Aristotle “Soc” Socarides series was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best P.I. Paperback Original!

Apparently, after an absence of twenty years, Soc made a return appearance in Grey Lady (2017), and now the follow-up to that one is a Shamus nom.

Not too shabby, Paul, not too shabby.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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