SGAG Logo

RICHARD VERNER

verner_richard_nv_tmt verner_richard_nv_tpsatk verner_richard_bk_ttwa verner_richard_nv_tpsatbl verner_richard_nv_tpsats verner_richard_nv_ms verner_richard_nv_thftp verner_richard_nv_tpsatd verner_richard_nv_tpsath verner_richard_bk_tpoi verner_richard_nv_tug verner_richard_nv_kttc verner_richard_bk_wg
 
Full Name: Richard Verner
Nationality: American
Organization: None
Occupation Other - Heuristician

Creator: Christopher Anvil
Time Span: 1965 - 2009

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Richard Verner is a heuristician.
       I had to look it up. That occupation is a person who practices or teaches the "study and use of heuristic techniques." Okay, I then looked that up and found that a heuristic technique is, according to Wikipedia, "any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method that is not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, or rational, but is nevertheless sufficient for reaching an immediate, short-term goal or approximation. Where finding an optimal solution is impossible or impractical, heuristic methods can be used to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution."
       Further descriptions state, "Examples that employ heuristics include using trial and error, a rule of thumb or an educated guess."
       In this regard we can safely assume that Verner is a consultant. One thing he makes sure to tell people coming to him for such consultation, though, is that he is not a detective; he has so skills in forensics or fingerprint analysis or the like. What he can do is to come up with interesting approaches to problem solving. As such, it is no wonder that he is often referred to as 'the Problem Solver'.
       Verner must make a living in this line of work because we learn that he has an office complete with a secretary named Jean. Further, he has business cards made across the top of which is printed "When Desperate, Call ---" and his number.
       He is said to have gray eyes which take on a glint when he has warmed up to his current task. He is also described as having "faintly red-Indian features" with "a tall frame that gave a somewhat catlike appearance of lithe quick strength. His waist was narrow and his face lean."

BOOKS

Number of Books:3
First Appearance:2006
Last Appearance:2009

     While the author did not write any full length novels concerning this character, he did see each of the ten stories repackaged into collections of his short stories and novellas. These are those collection.

1 The Trouble With Aliens The Trouble With Aliens
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 2006

A collection of short stories and novellas. "Humans on the space frontiers may have enough problems with befuddled bureaucrats, rules that don't fit the realities of very dangerous situations, and general rear-echelon incompetence without bringing in unfriendly aliens, but it's that kind of universe. On the other hand, as master satirist Christopher Anvil makes clear, the aliens are anything but omnipotent and have plenty of problems of their own."
One of the stories deals with Richard Verner. It is:
The Uninvited Guest
buy from Amazon

2 War Games War Games
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 2008

A collection of short stories and novellas. "Laugh in War's Face! With the deft touch of a Keith Laumer, hard-SF master and legendary Analog regular Christopher Anvil brings together mind-bending ideas and grim-but-true black humor in the face of war's utter destruction in this mega-compilation of Anvil's adventure masterpieces edited by modern-day SF master, Eric Flint!"
Seven of the stories deal with Richard Verner. They are:
The Spy in the Maze
The Murder Trap
buy from Amazon

3 The Power Of Illusion The Power Of Illusion
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 2009

A collection of short stories and novellas. "A new collection of stories by the master of humorous science fiction adventure, including: The full-length novel, The Day the Machines Stopped—and what happens, not just to civilization, but to humanity and its chances of survival when all the machines stop working at once?"
Seven of the stories deal with Richard Verner. They are:
Missile Smasher
The Problem Solver and the Killer
The Hand From The Past
The Problem Solver and the Hostage
The Problem Solver and the Deserter
Key To The Crime
The Problem Solver and the Burned Letter
buy from Amazon

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:10
First Appearance:1965
Last Appearance:1972

     While the author was better known for his superb science fiction short stories, he also penned a fair number of tales in other genres, sometimes crossing boundaries while doing so.

     The Richard Verner stories found their initial homes largely in the pages of monthly mystery digests. Five were first printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, one in the short lived Shell Scott Mystery Magazine, one in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, and one in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Two graced the pages of his more natural setting, Analog.

1 The Problem Solver and the Spy The Problem Solver and the Spy
The Spy in the Maze
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 1965

Printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, December 1965. Reprinted in the collection War Games
The case given Richard Verner deals with a technician at a highly classified research lab disappearing with plans for a new and secret type of laser device. The scientist who had come up with it was found dead. The missing spy, for what is what the client is certain the man was, was suspected of hiding out in a major cave system, being an avid speleologist. Verner is asked for a way of getting hold of the man in such a massive sequence of tunnels.
buy from Amazon

2 The Problem Solver and the Hostage The Problem Solver and the Hostage
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 1966

Printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, February 1966. Reprinted in the collection The Power Of Illusion
The police lieutenant who came to Richard Verner's office was greatly stressed. While searching for a trigger-happy robbery suspect, wanted for more than twenty crimes in the last six months, they nearly had him in an apartment building when he snatched a little girl from down the hall and then barricaded them both in his apartment, threatening to kill her.
buy from Amazon

3 Missile Smasher Missile Smasher
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 1966

Printed in Analog, July 1966.. Reprinted in the collection The Power Of Illusion
An Air Force general hires Richard Verner to help figure out who is bringing about the failure of several missile launches. While the general is certain that lasers are being used, he wants to make sure that the perpetrators are captured as well as stopping their sabotage.
buy from Amazon

4 The Problem Solver and the Killer The Problem Solver and the Killer
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 1966

Printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, August 1966.. Reprinted in the collection The Power Of Illusion
While taking a much needed vacation at an isolated hunting resort now very much snowed in, Richard Verner is asked to help find out who murdered one of the other guests. The victim was one of the military's best men in the field of submarine detection. Another guest is the General who asks Verner to lend his expertise, telling him that other ASW scientists in different parts of the world have also been murdered.
buy from Amazon

5 Key To The Crime Key To The Crime
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 1966

Printed in Shell Scott Mystery Magazine, September 1966. Reprinted in the collection The Power Of Illusion
The county sheriff contacts Richard Verner saying "one hell of a problem [was] dumped in [his] lap" and he needed help to solve it. A car spinning on ice on a curve fell into a ravine, the three passengers found dead in the vehicle. The problem was that all three men were dead from gunshot wounds. Even worse, they were FBI agents.
buy from Amazon

6 The Problem Solver and the Defector The Problem Solver and the Defector
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 1966

Printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, December 1966. Reprinted in the collection The Power Of Illusion
An East European embassy official contacts the CIA wanting to defect and offering to bring with him the diagram of 'Shower', a foreign missile, that the Agency is wanting. The defector calls to say he was being followed and is later found dead from being run off the road. What the CIA agents wants is help finding where the man may have hidden the diagram.
buy from Amazon

7 The Murder Trap The Murder Trap
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 1967

Printed in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, January 1967. Reprinted in the collection War Games
At an Army training facility specializing in training selected "cadets chosen from among certain of our Asian allies", one of the lead instructors, a Major Banks, was found dead in his quarters, suspected of suicide. The colonel running the base is certain one of the cadets actually killed him but needs Richard Verner to deduce how to uncover the killer.
buy from Amazon

8 The Uninvited Guest The Uninvited Guest
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 1967

Printed in Analog, March 1967. Reprinted in the collection The Trouble With Aliens
The large structure appeared out of nowhere one day. The first man to spot it thought it might be a mirage in the heat of the day so he threw a rock at it and the rock shot back at him with the force of a .45. Since this was happening near a military missile-test site, the General running the facility contacted Richard Verner to help figure out what it was and what to do with it.
buy from Amazon

9 The Problem Solver and the Burned Letter The Problem Solver and the Burned Letter
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 1967

Printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, April 1967. Reprinted in the collection The Power Of Illusion
Richard Verner has been asked to come to a very impressive estate where he is met by one of two brothers in the 50s who are vying for control of their father's lucrative business, Margate Mills. In addition to his worries about his own future with the company since his older brother is gaining the upper hand, he worries about the safety of his 80+ year old father. What the client wants was some idea of what his brother is actually planning.
buy from Amazon

10 The Hand From The Past The Hand From The Past
Written by Christopher Anvil
Copyright: 1972

Printed in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, May 1972. Reprinted in the collection The Power Of Illusion
A police detective pulls Richard Verner in to assist in a hostage situation when "hoodlums" entered a courtroom and snatched the presiding judge. Now the kidnappers and the victim could be anywhere in the city. All that Verner has to go on is a note, written by the judge in longhand, ordering the immediate release of a jailed prisoner."
buy from Amazon

MY COMMENTS

     I was immediately interested in this series when I saw the title of the first story dealt with a "spy". Then I gathered which tales were in the series and started to read them to see if this was a one-off and the series was basically a "standard" mystery series. What I found was that a good number of the cases that Verner faces are spy-ish in nature so the series qualified for membership here.
     Once I decided it fit, I started reading the stories to get an idea of the plot so I could write about each. I was just going to read enough to get the gist. That was all. Honest. Several hours and ten stories later, I was done and I had really enjoyed the effort.
     A couple of these are rather lackluster but several are really quite clever and I was impressed at what the author was able to do in just a few pages.
     I was also happy to find that all of the stories are available today in different collections. I recommend them for fast, fun reads.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

YOUR OPINIONS

Be the first to leave your own comments about this series.

Tell us what you think of the series. Give your grade and comments.

Your Grade:
Your Comments:

To give your opinion, you must be logged in.

Sign In

Register
Disclaimer
SpyGuysAndGals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and links with the Buy from Amazon button are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.