Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Street Ends At The Cemetery, by Clark Howard

"The Street Ends At The Cemetery," by Clark Howard, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, August 2012.  

I am surprised EQMM didn't use their Black Mask category for this story.  It has all the meaness and violence you could ask for in such a tale.

In classic noir fashion Cory Evans's life is changed forever by an encounter with a woman, although she is not exactly a femme fatale.  Cory is a corrections officer and Billie Sue is the girlfriend of a prisoner.  When Cory sees her standing in the rain outside the prison, waiting for a bus that won't come for an hour, he violates the fraternization rule by giving her a ride.

There's no conspiracy going on here.  Cory wasn't trying to seduce her.  Billie Sue wasn't looking for a guard to cuddle up to.  But things go to hell all the same.  You can say Cory is an innocent victim of circumstance, but as Rex Stout said "No man was ever taken to hell by a woman unless he already had a ticket in his pocket or at least had been fooling around with timetables."

The intriguing thing in this piece is that every character, including the alleged law-enforcers, has a dirty trick up their sleeve, a double-cross in their heart, and a gun or two in their pockets.  Does it end happily?  Look at the title.  What do you think?


  1. Almost a perfect noir story to me, beginning with the title.

  2. I love your reviews each week. Can't wait to read this story but I'm 2 issues behind on EQMM! Just read your Shanks story in AHMM from a few months back! Loved it as usual.

    Bob D.

  3. Yes, Bill, it's a lovely title for a lovely story.

    Bob, thanks for the kind words. I try not to include spoilers for those (all of us from time to time) who are behind in our reading. Glad you enjoyed Shanks; he's my favorite series character. "Brutal" (without Shanks) is awaiting you in the September issue of AHMM>