Sunday, May 13, 2012

Acting On A Tip, by Barbara Arno Modrack

"Acting On A Tip," by Barbara Arno Modrack, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, July 2012.

 I have said before that I am a sucker for stories about the possibility of redemption, whether the protagonist chooses to take it or not.  This is a nice example.

Marty had been a reporter for the Detroit Free Press for decades when the buyouts started.  One day his editor urged him to take the proffered buyout, and the reason clearly had less to do with his age than with the booze Marty was drinking for breakfast. 

When he found himself unemployed and probably unemployable Marty's wife made him the following offer:

They would sell the house and move Up North to the family cottage she had just inherited.  Ryan, their youngest, would complete his senior year in high school there.  Jenny would refresh her nursing license and become the breadwinner.  And if they did all that and Marty quit drinking, they could do it together and Jenny would not leave him.

A few months later Marty is clinging to sobriety by his fingernails when he wakes to a radio report of three murders in the little town where they are living.  Maybe the Free Press would like a reporter on the scene?  Maybe he can drag a scrap of self-worth out of the ruins?

Very satisfactory piece of work.

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