Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Alphabet Workbook by Mehnaz Turner

The Alphabet Workbook by Mehnaz Turner is only three pages long, but it packs a wallop. It appears in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine's Department of First Stories, but is so amazingly well written and so ultimately devastating that you'd be forgiven for thinking Ms. Turner is an old hand at the mystery story. I'd forgive you.

The story is only three pages long, so there is a sense in which I can't say all that much without revealing more of the plot than is decent. On the other hand, the power of this tale (and it is powerful) is in the telling - even were I to reveal every plot point, I wouldn't be capturing what makes this story so special. Still, as a reviewer, I'll say this much: it concerns the narrator, a transplant to Los Angeles, and her neighbor, Angela. Angela makes the mistake of knocking on the narrator's door to borrow eggs. Anyway, I fear saying more. I'll just mention that though the narrator is a social worker, she has some anti-social tendencies.

I really don't know how else to say things about this marvelous story. If you'd like my copy of EQMM, leave a comment to that effect, and if you're lucky, you get it. Lucky or the only one to leave a comment... I'll check back in a day or two to see who gets the prize (and this one story does qualify the magazine as a prize).


Chris Rhatigan said...

I totally agree, Steve. Ms. Turner draws you in and then spins the story around. Though the ending is direct, I thought it was refreshingly unexpected. Brilliant story. Hope she writes more like this.

Michael Kelberer said...

looked for the story, but must be past the reach of my EQMM collection - love to have your copy, the story sounds great!