Friday, March 04, 2005

Re: Your Murder by Christopher Gooch

Re: Your Murder” by Christopher Gooch, Thrilling Detective, Spring 2005

Mr. Gooch wrote this story in the form of a report from a detective agency to a client. Something out of the ordinary, to be sure.

It seems that Derek Smyth hired Bob Durkin, of Durkin Confidential Investigations, to find out who was trying to murder him. Mr. Smyth had received a threatening note followed the next day by an attempted poisoning. The main suspect, Lawrence Melton, a former business partner, had a heated argument with Smyth the night Smyth drank hot chocolate laced with arsenic.

A few days later a body is found in a burned-out car. Mrs. Smyth identifies that body as that of her husband. With information from Durkin, the police set out to question Melton, but find that he has disappeared.

Almost immediately after that Mrs. Smyth takes off for parts unknown, leaving Durkin with his bill and no one to pay it. This gives Durkin some incentive to track her down, discovering that Derek Smyth isn’t dead after all. I’m not giving anything away here, because that fact is stated as the first item in the report.

The story has a bit of a twist at the end, but nothing you wouldn’t expect given the actions itemized in the report – and the actual report itself.

As I said above, the form of the story itself is somewhat innovative or, at least, rare. Unfortunately, being written pretty much in reportese, the story is somewhat awkward to read. While this form is OK as a one-off, I don’t think it could stand repetition.

From a plot standpoint there was one glaring non-sequitor, the Smyth daughter who apparently lives at home with Mommy and Daddy. Daddy is supposedly sleeping under a dirt blanket when Mommy disappears off the face of the earth. This leaves kiddo home alone. Mommy and Daddy must be very cold fish indeed to abandon their only child. There was no indication in the story that relations between parents and child were anything other than loving. This turns the abandonment of Miss Smyth by her parents into a major speed bump, at least for me.

In short, an interesting experience, but not one I would care to repeat.

5 Comments:

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Gerald So said...

Thanks for reviewing this story, Bob. The report format scored originality points with us. I'm not sure whether a series of reports would work as stories myself.

You mention hitting a snag with the Smyth daughter. Her exact age isn't mentioned in the story, but I took it she was an adult still living with her parents. As such, the Smyths' abandonment of her struck me as cold, but not on the same level as leaving a child.

 
At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bob, for being so honest in your reviewing.

Actually, I myself don't think the format would work for a series. It is, as you said, too awkward.

As far as abandoning the daughter, it may have been an oversight on my part or a subconsciously intentional thing my brain did. (As in, maybe Smyth was just downright mean.) I think, perhaps, it's one of those things that everyone BUT the writer can see.

Anyway, Bob, thanks kindly for taking the time to review my story.

Christopher

 
At 4:45 PM, Blogger Bob said...

You get big risk-taking points for choosing that format, Christopher, and man, did you pick a hard row to hoe. Overall I think you did about as well as anyone could given the constraints.

 
At 5:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks!

Christopher

 
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