Joe Donnelly and Harry Shannon, “Fifty Minutes”

BAMM-2012A new patient pulls a gun on his new shrink and accuses him of murder.

(from Best American Mystery Stories 2012)

An aluminum taste floods Dr. Bell’s mouth. Trauma patients have told him this is what true fear tastes like, but until now he’d never taken them literally. Sure, every shrink has stories about unhinged patients. A client in the middle of a manic episode once threatened to scratch out Dr. Bell’s eyes with her car keys if he didn’t introduce her to her soul mate, Johnny Depp, but nothing has prepared him for this.

It was pretty obvious a twist was coming, because otherwise this wouldn’t be a mystery or a story, must less a contender for “best.” And there was really only one way to twist that would be worthwhile. So, yeah, while this story was well-written and deliciously simple — like a single-set sketch, or a one-act play — it was short on surprise. Mystery readers, mystery writers: I just don’t think I understand you.

Read the story here. 


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