Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Reunion by Eric Wright

“Reunion” by Eric Wright, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March/April 2005

I have to wonder why EQMM published this story. It must have been Mr. Wright's name and reputation as a crime writer (Canadian, received several awards), because this story certainly doesn’t fit EQMM’s usual fare.

Don’t misunderstand. The story is well written, but it’s more a slice-of-life, New Yorker type of story. There’s no plot to speak of and certainly no crime either in the pages of the story or, as might be implied from the editor’s introduction, the mind of this reader.

Two men, Stan and Billy, who were friends in the British Army during World War II, meet accidentally at a race track twenty-two years after having last seen each other while escaping from the advancing German Army on Crete. This is not the hail-fellow-well-met meeting you might expect in such a situation. There appear to be no emotions whatsoever. It was more like they had shared a bus ride rather than a life-and-liberty-threatening retreat before an advancing enemy.

The two men had been separated during their flight, neither knowing what had happened to the other. Stan eventually tells the story of the last time they saw each other and offers an explanation, of sorts, of the reason they seem so cool toward each other.

Ultimately, however, the explanation is unsatisfying. These people do not act the way two men who have endured such an experience act after twenty-two years of uncertainty about the other’s fate. However well written, this story does not belong in EQMM.

In short, the next time EQMM gets a story like this, they should forward it to the New Yorker.