Friday, January 10, 2020

Deal Me In: Nine of Clubs "An Official Position"

Jay's Deal Me In Challenge has us reading 52 short stories--one per week; one per card in a deck. For details click on the link. And my list of chosen stories may be found HERE

This week's story is "An Official Position" by Somerset Maugham (from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine July 1958) chosen by drawing the nine of clubs. The title refers to the position held by our protagonist Louis Remire. Louis is a prisoner who was convicted of murdering his shrewish wife. But he had held an official position before the crime and conducted himself well as a prisoner afterward, so he was offered the position of public executioner. This is France, so he maintains and operates the guillotine. Despite the fact that his fellow prisoners despise him, he comes to realize that for the first time he is happy. He's allowed more freedom than the other prisoners--can, in fact, go into town and go to his favorite fishing place. He doesn't have to worry about a place to live or food for his table and the only negative in his life (the constant nagging) is gone. All he wants to do is finish his sentence and be able to fish. But will he be allowed to do so? The man who previously held his position went missing and was later found killed....


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