Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Insurance by Fletcher Flora

The latest AHMM has a story first published long ago. I've never heard of the author before and, in fact, I almost wrote the name down as Flora Fletcher. Anyway, the story centers around a husband/wife team trying to defraud an insurance company by pretending the husband has died in a barn fire. Of course, to do this, they need a reasonable cadavar and getting that is part of the story.

Then, of course, the real husband has to disappear so the wife can get paid and do her own disappearing act. The way the con would normally go, the husband and wife meet up after the payout and live happily ever after, but I think you can see a myriad ways things could go wrong. For instance, if the insurance fails to pay out. That's not what happens here, but it could have.

In any event, while I think I've seen the outline of the plot before, the story is still worthy of notice - Loren Estleman introduces the story by saying that not a single word is wasted, and I have to admit with a build up like that, I really tried finding wasted words. He's right. They're not there. The prose is sharp as a knife. There are three things that force the reader to keep turning pages and this story certainly has one of them - poetry in nearly every line. A hard-bitten poetry. Poetry of a broken nose. Still, it was a joy to read.

1 comment:

Todd Mason said...

Flora was once a pretty big deal in cf, even if he often contributed to the fly-by-night MANHUNT imitations in the latter '50s--this story first appeared in one.