Despite the opening line, “Things had moved fast on the Pacific coast,” (pg. 6), the story begins with a pace that is a bit too slow for my tastes. The opening material felt like backstory, and though it may be required to catch readers up to the mystery, it bogged the story down for the first several pages. Yet, once I made it to the mystery, I was caught up in the story. The strangeness of the mystery, and the assumption that the answer revealed would be stranger still, excused the backstory and even excused the blandness of Harry and Kathryn (the narrator and his lover).
The nature of the mystery left me expecting more. I wish I could say I wasn’t disappointed. Unfortunately, while my expectations concerning the “character” who hadn’t quite materialized yet were fulfilled, the telling of his arrival wasn’t as fulfilling as I would have liked. If the mystery was supposed to be the climax, then the story should have stopped sooner, leaving the reader wondering what happened to the missing character. If the final conflict was the climax, it should have lasted for longer than a few paragraphs and should have been more difficult to resolve. Right when we get to the meat of the story—the part where the narrator and his lover can actually do something besides solve a word puzzle and have their suspicions confirmed—the writer seems to stop. The final conflict was solved too quickly, too easily, and without the prolonged drama and struggle the characters (all three of them) deserved.