When a sexy young widow comes on to him, a naïve cub reporter with big dreams perks up—then finds he’s gotten more than he bargained for, in this soft-spoken, mildly diverting debut from anthology editor Shreve.
Gordie is 22 and trying to fill the big shoes of his father, a famous Chicago journalist who died when Gordie was five. So Gordie starts small, as junior member of the obituary desk at the St. Louis Independent. He’s already put his ambition into practical use by creating a file of obits for not-yet-dead celebrities when a call comes from a local woman whose Irish wolfhound-breeding banker husband has just died. The widow, Alicia, wants a big spread, but when it becomes apparent that she wants much more, Gordie, after laying eyes on her, is only too happy to oblige. Before long the two are cavorting in the bed she once shared with the dearly departed, and, almost as soon, Gordie is helping her sell everything to begin a new life—with him. Meanwhile, his obit file having been discovered and condemned by his publisher, Gordie turns to other possibilities for advancing his career. He visits a late-night crime scene, which proves more ghoulish than gratifying, then, for inspiration, decides to visit Dallas, where his father hit pay dirt so many years before with the Kennedy assassination. He goes there also to check up on Alicia’s past, since seeds of doubt about her have been planted by her dead husband’s sister, and what Gordie finds gives him much food for thought. Back in St. Louis, Alicia, for all her sexiness, is becoming increasingly unstable, and Gordie has to resort to extreme measures to extricate himself—generating in the process the story of a lifetime.
A quietly competent tale, with a few surprises, gentle humor, and a good feel for the journalist’s milieu, though ultimately with nothing to make it more than adequate in its telling.