Thursday, September 07, 2023

"The Final Final" by Jerry Kennealy

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine September/October 2023, p. 111–117

In 1970, San Francisco police inspector Johnny O'Rorke is on leave recuperating from a gunshot wound. Paralyzed real estate tycoon David Lambert hires O'Rorke to tail his wife Katie, whose behavior has recently changed. Lamenting his physical predicament, the result of a fall mountain-climbing with Katie, David has no ill will toward his wife. He simply wants to know if "she's okay."

Following her for two days, O'Rorke takes a brief chance to speak with Katie, not betraying David's concern, yet finding himself unable to sway her from her own perilous plans.

"The Final Final" very finely focuses on the Lamberts' feelings of futility and what they do in response, then compounds their feelings with O'Rorke's and readers' by extension. Powerful and haunting.

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