Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Short Con Week 40 - Sparks

This is why I read Elmore Leonard.  The man makes even the most mundane jobs seem exciting as hell, rife with possibilities of money, sex and danger.

Joe Canahan is a private insurance investigator.  When a claim throws up a red flag, a call goes out to him.  Today, that call leads him to Robin Harris, a former rock star who married better than she played.

She's got money, a face that looks like Linda Fiorentino, a recently deceased husband (for once, not the problem) and a house in California's Arroyo Verde that she loathes.  It should be easy to get rid of.  She owns it, and the annoying Asian interior (statues, vases, bottles, carvings, tapestries, etc.  A bit overboard.) outright.  But she sees selling it off a as betrayal to her late husband, as he happened to love all that junk.  What's a wealthy widow to do?

What if the house happened to burn down?  It's a wildfire area, and as luck would have it, one just happened to rage through the area.  Perhaps a few sparks, carried by the wind, of course, happened to light a bush in the back yard on fire.  It can happen.  Eight other houses close by met a similar fate.

Maybe that's exactly the way it happened.  Maybe that neighbor with the binoculars didn't see her at the house the day of the fire, considering she had already moved out of the house weeks before?  Maybe her seductress act isn't fooling Joe Canavan?  Maybe Joe just doesn't care?

Sparks was the perfect story to begin the collection, When the Women Come Out To Dance.  It's clever, engaging, and subverted my expectations in a mere seventeen pages.  Can't wait to read what comes next.

1 comment:

  1. The cover to 'When the Women Come Out to Dance' is probably the best cover I've ever seen for a trade paperback - definitely my favorite Elmore Leonard cover. And the book is terrific by the way. Short story collection beginning with the spitfire Malibu Hills yarn name a Sparks.