Short Story | 57 mins
Jane K. Cleland’s “Killing Time” is just as much a mystery as the murder she writes about. The story is well-written from a purely linguistic standpoint; she follows all the rules, sets up the plot properly, and should have an engaging murder mystery on her hands. But she doesn’t. The story is as generic as a 2002 Dodge Neon; while we might be able to say that the Neon is a well-built, sturdy car, no one would describe it as particularly memorable. And that’s the exact problem with this story: Nothing stands out as original.
The story takes place in a small New Hampshire town, along the state’s three miles of coastline. The main character, Josie Prescott, stops by a bed and breakfast owned by her friend Valerie to say hello. She departs and walks down to the beach, but as she makes her way to her car, she hears a scream and discovers that in the moments that she was gone, a murder has occurred. Unfortunately, the only clue is an antique pocket watch. Fortunately, Josie is an antiques dealer.
Looking only at the writing, Cleland has a good style. She writes fluidly and descriptively (although her character dialogue could use a little work). In any other case, this would be a page-turner. The problem is that everything in this story could have been copied and pasted from any other textbook mystery story, aside from the somewhat novel way in which the case
While you’re reading, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that this is the kind of story that your grandmother reads while sitting in the salon with her hair curlers in. Unless you’re known for being right there in the salon next to her, I can’t recommend this to you.
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