Friday, December 17, 2004

Starch

"Starch" by Mary Anna Evans & Lillian Sellers, Plots With Guns, Nov/Dec 2004

The main character of this story has all the poise and unflappability of Lee Childs' Reacher. The main character in this first-person narrative is an operating room nurse in the mid-1950s.

The discovery of the murdered doctor's body is handled so matter-of-factly that I had to stop and go back to make sure of what I read. It was terrific. The authors had me so involved in the description of just another day in the OR with the routine and the gossip that I almost missed the discovery of the body. It was completely consistent with the character of the narrator. She's discussing the personalities of doctors in general and surgeons in particular, then, oh, by the way in the middle of this emergency operation to save a pregnant woman and her baby, she finds "Dr. Wilkinson dead in the supply closet - actually he was dead all over the supply closet . . ." Nice.

So while the operation continues (it is, after all, an emergency operation with the lives of the mother and unborn child at stake) she debates whether to tell the other members of the surgical team about the body and speculates on the identity of the murderer. The authors play fair with us here. There are clues to the murderer's identity, skillfully concealed, before the revelation. There's even a nice bit of action as our heroine subdues the culprit.

And just so we aren't left thinking this heroic nurse is an unfeeling automaton, the authors end the story with a glimpse of her humanity - delivered completely in keeping with her character, something that would be difficult for me to do, but they handled it well.

In short, a terrific story.

2 Comments:

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Graham said...

I thought this story was pretty good, too. Most of the stories over at PWG tend to be dialog-driven, but this is much denser, with a lots of description, which can bog down a story but is handled well here.

The fact that they could find room for this story is another reason to lament (sob!) PWG's passing.

 
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