Sunday, December 26, 2004

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Murder

"A Clean, Well-Lighted Place For Murder" by Tim Wohlforth, Shred of Evidence, November 2004

This is a nice little story of a love that could have been, murder and bloody vengeance.

A campus cop admires a coed from afar. Well, not too afar, the next table actually. The coed admires the campus cop from the same afar. Someone kills the coed, Cindy, while the cop admires her. The cop doesn't see anything but her falling down dead. Feeling guilty he tries to find out what happened. He's a campus cop, looked down on by the city police as little more than a rent-a-cop. Can he discover the killer? And if he can, what will he do?

I really like the way Mr. Wohlforth handles his dialogue. The two scenes between the cop and Jose, the barista, the scene with Cindy's roommate, and the scene with Squeeze all read quickly and easily. I never lost track of who was speaking, and they sounded completely natural. Not a lot of physical description, not a lot needed.

I do have a couple of really minor quibbles. The first occurs just before Cindy's murder. "Then a deep rumble from the street. A car must have been passing on Bancroft." It turns out that this car is a BMW. I've never heard a BMW rumble. In fact, despite the number of them on the street around here, I've never HEARD a BMW.

The second occurs at the beginning of the final scene with Squeeze. "I spotted the BMW a block away. . . . A young boy, perhaps twelve, spotted me and walked over to the Mercedes." What is this thing, a Transformer? As I said, minor stuff.

In short, Mr. Wohlforth has crafted an excellent story, well worth the read.