Friday, January 07, 2005

Willie Bats

"Willie Bats" by David Grace, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March 2005

This story continues the chronicle of Eddie Montefusco, illicit gun dealer and federal snitch last seen in the November 2004 issue of AHMM. Eddie's primary client is the Abuzzi crime family. He made a mistake and came under the thumb of FBI Special Agent Harold Bolger. Now, in order to stay out of jail, he has to feed Bolger information about the Abruzzis.

This is not a happy marriage of interests on either side. Eddie needs to play Sheherizade to keep Bolger from throwing him in jail. At the same time he has to keep the Abruzzis from finding out and putting him to bed under a dirt blanket. Bolger, for his part, isn't satisfied with what he's getting, but he knows that Eddie is the only key he has into the Family. He has to keep trying to squeeze out those golden eggs without killing the goose.

This time Eddie spins the yarn of a couple of crooked cops and the murder of a Mafioso. Willie Bats, an Abruzzi lieutenant, comes to Eddie for a gun, a gun just like the cops use. He wants the gun delivered to a friend. Willie Bats has a problem, two actually. A member of a rival crime family is tipping a policeman about the location of Abruzzi businesses which this cop then raids and keeps the loot for himself. Willie can't just whack another made guy or a cop, so he has to figure another way. It's pretty ingenious and works well.

The ending has a bit of a twist, but it leaves Bolger unsatisfied and Eddie still on the hook with an increasingly miffed handler. A sure opening for other stories in the series. Unfortunately there is no real resolution here. Both of the main characters are left up in the air along with the reader. It's basically a "war story" told by a Mafia hanger-on, and while war stories can be fun, in a short story they need to have a point.

In short, it's a well written story that is ultimately unsatisfying.