Ray Zacek’s short story Chrysalis packs a lot of plot into a brief package. It releases its disturbing secrets slowly, inch by inch, line by line, and by the time Zacek has opened the kimono all the way, you’ll be ready to run screaming.
Coffman, the protagonist, is as much a cipher as the mystery he’s driven into the dilapidated town of Leclerc to investigate: who, exactly, does he work for? And why are the bodies in this “Somalia on the Mississippi” piling up? As the story unfolds and things get weirder, the unflappable, enigmatic Coffman seems equal to the challenge…until he isn’t.
Zacek’s talent for snappy dialogue, ably demonstrated in his short story The Tatman, is in evidence here: everyone’s got a reason for what they say and how they say it, which is the essence of good characterization. Secret agendas lurk behind every exchange, adding to the atmosphere.
If I have any complaints, it’s that the story’s too short. Zacek hints of greater things afoot, but we don’t get to see them. Which is a shame, because this is a world you’ll definitely want to return to. Let’s hope the author’s got more Chrysalis stories coming down the pike…or in this case, sliding out of a morgue’s chilly drawer.
At the time of this writing, Chrysalis is free on Amazon. Get your copy ASAP!