This week I read two stories in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and one in Kings River Life, all with amazing twist endings. A twist is an unexpected turn of events in a story that causes the reader to reevaluate characters or plot. Rather than attempt further explanation, here are three fine examples of stories with twist endings.
Unfortunately, I can't reveal what the twists are, or I would ruin the story for you. I'll have to be coy with my analysis, and hope you'll look up these stories.
On the Hook, by Larry W. Chavis - Shelby is having an affair. I can't say I feel much sympathy for the woman when she receives what sounds like a blackmail letter. Here we go, I thought, another tale of infidelity and the inevitable, predictable consequences. Then Shelby decides how she'll deal with the blackmailer. It gets more interesting as the story takes a definite turn for the worse. It ends with an unexpected twist that I didn't see coming. One of those "wow" kind of endings.
A Respectable Lady, by Joseph D'Agnese - A woman who appears respectable, if a bit worn around the edges, arrives alone in a public establishment. This is not quite proper behavior in the story's time period. A gentleman joins her. He is thoroughly obnoxious, and the reader may wonder why she tolerates his rude treatment. Then the story unfolds, ending with a twist that resolves a lot of questions reaching far beyond this tale. At first I was so startled, I was annoyed with the author. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the story. This tale delivers a multi-layered twist. I hope you'll read it. And then you'll want to read it again.
The Countess of Warsaw by Susan Breen - This story did not end with quite as dramatic a twist as A Respectable Lady, but it was equally satisfying. Maggie Dove runs a small detective agency that so far has only acquired jobs chasing after an old woman's foul-tempered cat. Then the old woman goes missing. The elderly are vulnerable on many levels. In this case, the self-proclaimed Countess of Warsaw makes claims others dismiss as part of an old lady's diminishing mental capacity. By the end of the story, Maggie is in a real dilemma. Were the woman's ramblings just dementia, or is there truth to her outlandish claims? The story leaves you wondering.
Three stories with twist endings. Each story had a different tone, and successfully employed the twist in different ways to accomplish the author's purpose. If you've read these tales, do you agree? What stories have you read that have a great twist ending?
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