I began writing about Martin H. Ehrengraf in “The Ehrengraf Defense,” published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1978. By 1994 there were eight stories in all, and ASAP Press published them in a very limited edition; it’s available today on collector-book sites for between $250 and $1250. By 2003 I’d written two more, and there the series stood until last week, when I completed an eleventh story, “The Ehrengraf Settlement.”

Come Thursday, June 14, starting at 3am Eastern time, and ending exactly 24 hours later, “The Ehrengraf Defense” will be available as a FREE Kindle download. This offer’s good everywhere in the world—on amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, amazon.fr, amazon.es, and amazon.it.

New to Ehrengraf? The free download will serve as a no-risk introduction. If it’s not to your taste, you’ll know to stop right there. If you find yourself fond of the dapper little lawyer whose clients all turn out to be innocent, you’ll be able to work your way through the other stories at 99¢ apiece.

The new story, “The Ehrengraf Settlement,” will cost a little more. Because it’s new, and available exclusively for Kindle, it’s priced at $2.99.

I think I see a hand out there. Gee, is that Ron Popeil? I thought so! I recognized you right away from your infomercials. Gotta say I love the set of knives. Uh, did you have something to say, Ron?

“But wait—there’s more!!!”

I was hoping you’d say that.

ehrengraf_ftdSee, with the extraordinary formatting help of my friend Jaye Manus, I’ve put all eleven Ehrengraf stories into a single eVolume, called EHRENGRAF FOR THE DEFENSE. It’s a remarkably fine-looking eBook, the virtual equivalent of a finely printed small-press limited edition, and I’m proud to be able to offer it to you. Like the individual stories, it’s a Kindle exclusive, and the price is $4.99. (The first ten stories are 99¢ apiece, and the new one is $2.99, so if you bought everything individually it would come to $12.89. So if you like your free download, or if you’ve been an Ehrengraf enthusiast for a while now, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. The complete eBook is a bargain.)

“But wait—there’s still more!!!”

You’re absolutely right, Ron. There’s more in the eBook than the eleven stories, because it also includes Ed Hoch’s introductory essay, which originally appeared in the 1994 small-press volume. And I’ve also tucked in my own afterword to that book, and updated it some in the process. It that cinches it for you, just click here and start reading.

Do I see some other hands up?

I’m an Amazon Prime member. Can I borrow the new book? And if I do, will I be cheating you out of your royalty?

Ah, glad you asked. That’s an area where confusion is not hard to come by. Amazon Prime members have as a perk of membership the right to borrow entirely free of charge one eligible book per month, and the eligible titles are comprised of those designated by their publishers as Kindle Select titles, available for no other eReaders. All of the Ehrengraf stories, and the complete book, fit that designation, and are thus available to be borrowed. Borrowing a 99¢ story seems like an unwise use of one’s monthly privilege; borrowing the $4.99 Ehrengraf For The Defense is a more attractive proposition.

And authors are compensated for borrows just as they are for sales, so there’s no need to feel you’re shortchanging me—or anybody else whose book you borrow.

How come all of this is Kindle only? What have you got against Nook? or Kobo? Or Apple? Or Sony Reader?

I don’t have anything against any of them, and all my other eBooks are available on all platforms. I decided making Ehrengraf exclusive to Kindle was a worthwhile experiment, and it’ll be interesting to see how it works out.

What about print? Will “The Ehrengraf Settlement” ever appear in ink on paper?

Yes, but not for a while. The story’s slated for inclusion in Buffalo Noir, Ed Park’s entry in Akashic’s signature Noir series, and I don’t expect the book will be published until early 2013. (If it’s earlier, I’ll let you know.)

Wait a minute. What the hell do Ehrengraf and Buffalo have to do with each other?

Ah, I guess you didn’t realize little Martin Ehrengraf was a Buffalo boy. A handful of readers over the years have sussed out the connection, based on  street names endemic to the Queen City of the Lakes. The locale is more evident in the latest story, although even there Buffalo itself is never specifically named. Buffalonians will be pleased to learn that our lad’s wretched client lives on Nottingham Terrace, right across from Delaware Park, while Ehrengraf himself has an apartment at the Park Lane and a Court Street office with a view of Niagara Square.

How about the collection of stories? Will we see a printed version?

That’ll take longer still. But I think you’ll find it worth the wait, because that distinguished small-press publisher, Subterranean Press, will eventually publish Ehrengraf For The Defense, most likely in both trade and limited editions. When? If I had to guess, I’d say late 2013.

And I think that’ll do it for now. I want to get this to you—via blog, newsletter, Facebook post, Twitter tweet—in plenty of time for you to take advantage of the free download. Did I mention the offer’s good all over the world? And that the twenty-four hour clock starts ticking at 3am Eastern time on Thursday, June 14? I did? I said all that?

Oh. Well, I just said it again, didn’t I?