Monday, July 18, 2022

The Secret Sharer, by W. Edward Blain

 "The Secret Sharer," by W. Edward Blain, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, July/August 2022.

In the last two years many fiction writers, me included, have had to deal with the knotty issue of Covid.  How do you include it in a story?  You can ignore it, setting the tale in the near past  or (hopefully) near future.  You can include it in passing, with casual references to masks and vaccinations, etc.  Or you can build a story around it.  

Blain's is one of the best I have read in the last category.

Henley teaches English at a boarding school.  Because of the pandemic his students are scattered to several continents and he is teaching via zoom with all the messy issues involved in that technology.  But none of those compared to the catastrophic disaster of  the home of his favorite student exploding during a class, taking the entire family with it.   

There's more to this than meets the eye, beginning with the fact that the boy's parent's seemed to know something was wrong.  So why didn't they act?  And what was the mother's mysterious profession?  Is it possible the father was somehow involved in building the bomb?

The solution is very satisfactory - and wouldn't have worked before the lockdown.