Friday, April 15, 2005

Home by Eddie Newton

“Home” by Eddie Newton, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May 2005

This story appeared under the Department of First Stories banner. As such it is a pretty good story, though it does have its faults.

Three people, Marion, Mabel, and Dell are holed up inside a house that obviously isn’t theirs. They are hiding in the house, because the radio says that some desperate and dangerous convicts have escaped and are thought to be in their neighborhood. One of the convicts used to live in that very neighborhood. The radio is advising everyone to stay in their houses behind locked doors.

Mable is crying and Dell is impatient. Marion wanders through the house remembering. Everything he looks at brings back impressions and memories. He knows the house and the people who used to live there. Marion also worries about “them” and how the locks on this suburban house wouldn’t keep out anyone determined to get in.

The story goes on in this vein in an almost stream of consciousness river about to overflow its banks. That’s fine technique and can be effective if it’s used in short pieces. Unfortunately the entire story is written this way. Because of that the story is too long. I would have been much more effective if it had been about half the length. That would also give the reader less time to figure out what’s going on before the ending. It didn’t take me long to suss out what was what.

All that said, the story is well written and the ending is effective. As you reach the final paragraphs you can see that there are two ways the story can end. Mr. Newton is able to introduce enough suspense about which way the story will go that the ending has at least a little emotional impact.

In short, a good first effort.

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