Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Ballad of Maggie Carson, by Cheryl Rogers.

"The Ballad of Maggie Carson," by Cheryl Rogers, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine,  May 2016.

This is Australian Cheryl Rogers's third appearance in this space.  And what a treat it is.  Here's the opening.

David's lifeless body sits ramrod straight in the passenger seat.

The recently widowed Maggie Carson is gunning a camper van along a red slash of outback corrugations. Anthills dot the spinifex.  They flit along the hazy edge of her peripheral vision like tombstones.  

So who is Maggie and what is she doing rushing through the Never Never at full speed with this peculiar traveling companion?  And did I mention that a retired police officer may be chasing after her?

She is a very cheerful senior citizen, very glad to be free of her miserable husband.  "This woman is in the driver's seat.  She prides herself on being a glass-half-full kind of gal.  Someone who makes the best of the curved balls life tends to pitch."

All she has to do is find a place to dump David.  And then there are a few other complications...

This story reminds me of one of my favorites from last year, Margaret Maron's "We On The Train!"  They both race along with a breathless energy that conceals what is actually going on.  (But Rogers' story is far more manic.)  Highly recommended.

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