Too much love will kill you...so goes the song by the Queen and performed popularly at a local stage by singer Jovit Baldivino who was declared champion in the first season of a national talent contest.
Such song repeatedly comes to mind when I read three suspenseful stories by Ruth Rendell-- "A Glowing Future”, “A Case of Coincidence”, and “May and June”. At the end of each story, I was shaking my head in bewilderment. Do you think it would be a crime to say I enjoy these crime short stories very much? Oh, I am not saying I enjoy the act of crime per se, but I admire how Rendell did it again: weave an incredulous yet painfully possible crime scene.
|Ruth Rendell (Image Source)|
These stories are part of Rendell’s “The Fever Tree and Other Short Stories of Suspense” (1982). I have posted on her other stories, including “The Fallen Curtain”, “The New Girl Friend”, and “The Fever Tree”.
A Glowing Future tells of a dramatic breakup of a couple--way too dramatic. The man is packing up his things at the house he shares with his girlfriend-just-turned-ex at the very start of the story. He is selecting things that are special and discarding the stuff that do not please him. These things he put in a special case to be shipped to his would-be wife who is totally clueless of the former girlfriend. The shipping would take around three months during which time the man will be off somewhere in Europe vacationing before he will finally settle down. A heated discussion between him and his ex leads to an equally heated ending.
A Case of Coincidence is like reading a police blotter, only much more colorful and dramatic (there’s that word again). It is a story within a story about how a certain surgeon admits to killing his unfaithful wife but no one believes him, all because of coincidence that points to another killer who formerly killed women by the same method: strangling. While Rendell did not employ an overtly startling ending like her other stories, building up one clue after the other and easily guiding the reader to predict the most likely murderer, I could not help but wonder if beneath the clues, or alongside them, are subtle hints that point to the doctor as the real criminal but which we shrug off to make our reading lives better. I mean, sure, Rendell pointed out the criminal already, but it looks, I don’t know, so easy. (Or perhaps I’m just watching too many C.S.I. TV episodes.)
May and June is sad and terrible tragedy. Plain May is the elder of the two sisters. She is set to be married to a handsome and wealthy man but when lively and pretty June comes home from school months before the wedding, the man transfers his affections to the younger sister and the two end up getting married. This has caused a rift between the two sisters ever since and for me, it has driven May to a certain degree of madness, which contributes to a climactic ending I truly did not see coming. What is your guess if you put together May and June who are now edging towards their retirement years in one house after the death of the man who happened to be May’s former boyfriend and June’s husband?
These stories literally followed the logic behind the phrase, “Too much love will kill you”. If it’s not you, then it will be somebody else.
- Nancy -
I have read these short stories for The Short Story Initiative. I’m following this month’s theme, which is crime/suspense. But the theme is not mandatory. If you have any short stories to share, share them in your blog and link them up here. You can actually find all the useful links on the sidebar. I hope you’ll join us. As they say, the more of us talking about short stories (which is considered an often neglected literary form), the merrier it will be. Hop on in anytime!