Sunday, May 15, 2011
"Detour" by Neil Schofield. Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, July 2011.
If I'm not careful I may be accused of nepotism, logrolling, or some other felony. This is the second week in a row I am reviewing a story written by a friend. Hey, I call 'em like I see 'em.
Let's talk about metaphor. Literary critics love them to death. Is the white whale a symbol of the uncaring universe? Is the yellow brick road a metaphor for the Gold Standard? And is anyone in a work of literature with the initials JC a stand-in for Jesus?
We won't settle those issues today, but Neil Schofield's story is metaphor from title to last sentence. His nameless narrator has gotten off the main track - literally and symbolically. He seems to be working hard at finding ways to avoid working. We learn later on that his personal life has also gotten lost in the rough.
While taking a slow route to a meeting he wishes to avoid he discovers a horrific crime. Last week I talked about interesting readers by giving the protagonist a chance at redemption. I see that chance here because this traumatic event - discovering a brutal crime - could change the course of even a well-adjusted person's life. But will it send our screwed-up hero back onto the main highway of his life, or drag him further into the wilderness?
A quiet, subtle little tale.