Sunday, October 21, 2012
I Heard A Romantic Story, by Lee Child
When an author makes most of his income writing one kind of novel it must be a great relief to occasionally break loose and write a very different kind of short story. One example of that is Field of Thirteen, Dick Francis's collection of tales, none of which use the first person narration so familiar from all of his novels.
And Lee Child, when he isn't writing his Reacher novels produces some excellent little stories. And this one is all about style.
Love is Murder is the third anthology from the International Thriller Writers, and the theme is romantic suspense. Many of the stories are fairly standard romantic suspense - boy and girl either fear each other or fight a common enemy. But Child is on a very different wavelength.
Did I mention that this piece is all about style? For one thing it all written in one long breathless paragraph. And here's how it starts:
I heard a romantic story. It was while I was waiting to kill a guy. And not just a guy, by the way. They were calling this guy a prince, and I guess he was... .
The narrator is a hit man for our government and the romantic story involves the spy who authorized the killing and the woman whose job it was to get the mark in the right place at the right time. You see, she happened to be the boss spy's lover. But that won't interfere with the plan, will it?
Child is far too good a writer to use the unconventional style just for giggles. It adds to the suspense, and makes the outcome less predictable. Nice piece of work.