Sunday, February 25, 2007

"Partners" by Michael Bracken

First appeared in Hardboiled Winter/Spring 1988, ed. Gary Lovisi.

Also available in Tequila Sunrise by Michael Bracken. Wildside Press, 2000.

Leaving his girlfriend's house to get back to work on a case, St. Louis P.I. Nathaniel Rose starts his car, and it explodes.

From a hospital bed, Rose tries to piece together who had motive to kill him, what he was working on that might have triggered the attempt on his life. He asks his partner Stu to reach out to their informant Mannie, but Mannie's disappeared.

Weeks later, back on his feet, Rose looks for Mannie to no avail. He returns to the office and reviews old cases, but no connection comes to mind. In the middle of the night, the killer breaks in on Rose and his girlfriend.

The title of this story seems a giveaway, but it isn't. Bracken cleverly keeps things in doubt and gives "partners" a double meaning in the end. A prolific fiction and nonfiction writer as well as the editor of several anthologies, Bracken's prose is straightforward and sharp. Like Rob Kantner's Ben Perkins, Rose is a richer character for the life he seems to lead between stories.

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