‘The Manhunt’ by Daniel Curley

The Manhunt by Daniel Curley, 1962

The magic trick:

Baiting the reader into expecting the two stories (the physical action and the protagonist’s thoughts) to intersect

“The Manhunt” consists of two simultaneous stories. The obvious one is the manhunt; the search for the missing child in the woods. The second is less conspicuous; the internal wrangling of Ken’s thoughts; his backstory in a fracturing marriage; his insecurities; his feelings of guilt. The character of Ken and the reader alike move through the story waiting (or in Ken’s case: fearing) that the two ideas will intersect. Will this man’s inherent shame and guilt be somehow validated by the manhunt? Well, not wanting to ruin the ending, I’ll leave it to you to find out. Sufficed to say, it’s a very interesting way of isolating the story’s central ideas while ramping up the tension. And that’s quite a trick on Curley’s part.

The selection:

“I’ll need the car keys,” the sheriff said, “to get the spare out of the trunk. Don’t worry, my man will be back with the keys long before we get out of the woods.”

Ken silently handed over the car keys. It was just possible that the sheriff meant only what he said and that he wasn’t simply confiscating the keys.

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