first leaned of this, oddly enough, through an old radio serial (Escape). See, while I audit at work, I sometimes listen to old radio programs. I loved the idea of this story and when I heard it came from a book, I had to check. And yes, Project Gutenberg had it for free.
Written in 1913? Hmmm. But it turns out I was pleasantly surprised – Perceval Gibbon is more of a modern author. In fact, I’d say he was one of the kings of the gotcha ending. The free eBook I found was a collection of fifteen of his short stories. And I gotta tell you, they were all really good. Some highlights.
The Second-Class Passenger – the collection opens with the title story, a little tale of a little man, a second class passenger off the boat in Mozambique, attempting to recover a tacky idol a woman left behind. Little did he know that he’d end up racing across rain-swept rooftops, clutching idol in one hand, the arm of an exotic woman in the other, hotly pursued for a murder he’s committed. And the ending. God damn! That’s all I can say. Hammer between the eyes, it was that good.
The Sense of Climax and The Poor in Heart – Both of these focus on the assaults and crimes committed against the Jews by the Russians. One is poignant and sad, another uplifting in an amazing way. I loved them both for what they said about people.
The Hidden Way – A man is able to dream himself back to the consciousness of his ancestor on the day of the crucifixion. And what he learns about the day and his part in it shakes him to the core.
Lola – An indirect reference to the woman of my dreams, Lola Montez. A crazy wild painter lays dying, and wants to see his wife one more time, the once-exotic dancer Lola. Not sure of what the ending quite meant, but a good story all the same.
The Captain’s Arm – The old captain is crippled by an injury that requires the amputation of his arm. But who will carry on his captaincy if his son does not prove worthy. Shocker ending – you’ve been warned!
The Trader of Last Notch – What do you do if you owe your life to a man who commits a crime so heinous you can’t just look away. I simply couldn’t believe how this one ended!
So there you go, just some of the fifteen short tales you’ll enjoy, old in their craftsmanship yet modern in their telling. Trust me on this – download this (again, for free, right HERE) and read Second-Class Passenger and see if he hasn’t hooked you. Hey, enough of you have said my recommendations are good. What do you have to lose?