Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Murder in the Family

"A Murder in the Family" by Carol Cail, Shred of Evidence, November 2004

Families. Whatta ya gonna do? Like a mother's love families in general can make or break a person, though in the mystery genre you find more of the latter than the former.

In this story a college psychology class provides the background against which a young man, Brian, with a troubled past - and present - examines his life. I liked the way Ms. Cail used the class and other conversations with the professor to stimulate and break up the main character's ruminations.

The story starts off with the professor asking the class if it is easier to commit murder a second time. Ms. Cail throws in a bit of foreshadowing at the end of this scene that isn't heavy-handed and works well to keep the interest level up.

The next scene takes us home with Brian to meet his mother. I like the way Ms. Cail leads us to figure out for ourselves that Mom lives at the bottom of a bottle. Brian has to care for her as though she were an invalid. He has no help from his siblings who all escaped leaving him holding the bag, so to speak.

In the following scene we find out about the murder of his father, an inveterate drinker and spouse abuser, who was murdered in his own house after breaking Brian's mother's arm and beating her senseless. The police have no evidence proving who the murderer was, but they charge Mom anyway. Charges are dropped because of lack of evidence.

Other sessions in class and with the professor lead Brian deeper into the past and deeper into his frustration with his current life, babysitting Mom.

In the last two paragraphs Ms. Cail brings the story full circle and answers the question about whether murder is easier the second time around with a nice little twist.

In short, very well written with the clues nicely distributed and not on blatant display.


At 9:18 AM, Blogger Megan said...

I also thought the author's build up was spot on. When I first read the story I knew I wanted it to go at the end of an issue, because where can you go after those last two paragraphs?

I'm very glad you started this site. I hope it brings a little more attention to short fiction. But even if it doesn't manage to succeed there, it's surely encouraging the folks who already read it to think about it--the stories may be short, but they're not disposable. And on a more personal level, I appreciate the review of all the stories in Shred's November issue.

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Bob said...

Well, the site can succeed in getting more attention for short stories with a little help from my friends. So far it's been great. The site has been live for just under six weeks, and it's had over 3200 hits. That's terriffic. I am most gratified.

I try to cover every story in the ezines I read. Since they are live longer than the typical print mag, that gives me more time to get to all the stories. You're welcome, Megan.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger ibrahim said...

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