Monday, April 10, 2023

The Boys Were Seen, by Patrick Whitehurst

 "The Boys Were Seen," by Patrick Whitehurst, in Trouble in Tucson, edited by Eva Eldridge, 2023,

I have written here before about the opportunities in tropes (or if you prefer, cliches) of our field.  The private eye being visited in his office by the mysterious femme fatale.  The nice suburbanite who wants to kill a spouse.  Etc.

There are obvious dangers here. Not another story about a crook being double-crossed by his partners!

But there are wonderful opportunities as well, simply because the reader thinks they know what is coming.  If you can subvert that, you may have something good.

Terry Carson is a hit man for Alan, a crime boss.  Alan calls him in because some of his thugs were seen committing a crime and now they are about to kill the witness.  Carson is to be the backup in case anything goes wrong.  But it turns out he knows the witness, quite well...

Well, there's your cliche.  Bad guy has to decide what to do when his job conflicts with his personal life.  We've all seen that one before.

But Whitehurst takes it in an unexpected direction.  Quite a treat.

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