The pages of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine are regularly filled with interesting stories, but I've noticed recent issues have entertained with a touch of daring. The March/April 2017 issue featured Dale Berry's graphic short, Dead Air. In the current issue, May/June 2017, two stories struck me as a touch out of the ordinary.
Home From Home, by SJI Holliday, is told in present tense. If you don't remember your terminology, most stories are told in past tense. "He drove." Present tense would say, "he drives," or "he is driving." You realize with the first line that Holliday is using present tense: "He's enjoying the walk."
Sergeant Davie Gray is on holiday in Brighton. Before he gets a chance to relax, a body on the beach draws him inexorably into a mystery.
Telling a story using present tense gives the action immediacy. You the reader are experiencing events in real time with the protagonist. In less capably hands, this could be awkward or annoying. Holliday pulls it off, and even gives us a twist ending.
Another unusual tale is Twelve Angry Days by Paul D. Marks. Emony Taylor is delighted at her good fortune in being selected as a juror for a trial. As the story unfolds, it becomes obvious she has an agenda, but you are deep into the tale before you have gathered the clues to figure out her motivation. There are twelve people on the jury, which lasts twelve days. Each day is delivered diary-style.
"Day 1 Emony Taylor entered the room with the rest of them. Twelve people, most of whom would rather have been anywhere else, including stuck in the perpetual traffic of the 405. But for one reason or another they couldn't get out of it."
I was reminded of the epistolary novel, a literary device where a story is told through letters. Bram Stoker's Dracula used this technique. While Twelve Angry Days is not, strictly speaking, epistolary, the diary-style storytelling was used effectively. The reader realizes that time is running out for Emony to achieve her goal.
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