Friday, July 06, 2007

"The Village" by James Lee Burke

This is not exactly a crime story in the traditional sense though there is violence and murder. It is more a war crime story. It is about soldiers (presumably American, but are they regular army or mercenaries, I'm not sure) bringing retribution to a village. There isn't much violence on the page, but enough of it and directed at civilians so we know this is criminal. Then there is a witness, a nun. She needs to be dealt with, silenced. Perhaps she can be frightened into keeping her mouth shut. After all, how hard could that be? If she doesn't fear for her own safety, she might fear for the safety of others...

The story is hard to write about. It is short (maybe eight pages) even for a short story and told through the voice of one of the soldiers, a man who seems to have had more than his fill of killing. And he does the only thing he can do to make things as close to good as you're going to get in a hot zone. The final words shook me to the core.

The story is apparently excerpted from one of Burke's novels. No difference. The collection it's in now is called Jesus Out to Sea. Strong stories, if you can take it.

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