I picked up the new issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine primarily because it has a story by Edward D. Hoch featuring one of his early detectives you don't see as much these days, Simon Ark. Ark is a magical, mythical sort of guy rumored to be hundreds of years old. He anticipates an ultimate confrontation with evil, but the mysteries he solves are very real world involving variations on locked rooms i.e. a revolving door, mysterious gadgets and more clever twists. There are apparently three Simon Ark collections that I don't own.
My favorite characters
I read Ark stories in EQMM and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine mainly in the '70s and '80s. My favorite Hoch characters include thief-of-obscure objects Nick Velvet and solver-of- -impossible-crimes Dr. Sam Hawthorne, but Ark with his mysterious past is always the one I look for first when I scan EQMM's contents. They stand out with their extra hint of spookiness.
I wrote Mr. Hoch a couple of years ago, sometime after my father died. I told him how much my father had enjoyed his stories and mentioned my own appreciation for Ark. He was kind enough to write back and mentioned Ark would appear in Murder on the Ropes, boxing mysteries by various authors. I keep meaning to seek that out.
One day we'll get a big collection of all the Simon Ark tales. In the meantime, seek out Mr. Ark where you can find him.
Read an interview with Mr. Hoch here. It includes a mention of another Simon Ark tale I missed in a 2004 EQMM issue.