On the Feast of Saint Stephen: (Holiday Spectacular Story #32)

As noted here, I’m commenting daily on the WMG Holiday Spectacular—which is a great project that releases a story every day. These might be reviews. Or not. They might be interesting. Or … um … not. They will be fun, though. For me, at least.

Here’s the next story.

“On the Feast of Saint Stephen”
Patricia Duffy Novak

[Warning: I’ll be talking about this story’s plot a little bit. I’ll stay at a very high level that I think will avoid any true spoilers, but if you want to be sure I don’t mess you up, you might want to read the story before you read my thoughts.]

The introduction to this story calls it a dark mystery—which is fair enough, though I’d have called it a Regency detective story. Or maybe a Victorian detective story, feel free to tell me otherwise, I mean, who am I to say? Regardless, I call it that because, while there is a mystery at hand, the story is told from a set of viewpoints that make that mystery not so hard to figure out yourself, and then the story outlines its own machinations to be certain you get them well enough before moving on, but the fun part is watching the net laid down and then close together as the “detective” goes about determining a truth that we already know.

In the end, of course, it doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s a good and satisfying read and, in context of the whole Spectacular project, a welcomed turn from the more light-hearted fare that’s recently preceded it. The characters are of a familiar sort for the genre, the Scroogey villain’s comeuppance is sweet on several levels (ha!), and the final validation scene does a considerable amount of work to wrap the package up in a very neat little bow indeed. (Something that, being a writer, I was excited about enough that I took a moment to go back through to see how Patricia Duffy Novak laid that out. Its information flow and prose beat—if you’ll allow me a little more “inside baseball” analytics—is very slickly done.)

So, yeah, it’s a delicious little story, just long enough to make your lunch break mysterious … er … detectivous!!

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