The Whole Town’s Sleeping by Ray Bradbury, 1950
The magic trick:
Keeping the reader guessing until the very last sentence
Here is a murder mystery with no detective. Everyone is a suspect, as the plot seems to just toy with the reader. Bradbury is a regular Agatha Christie here the way he’s able to anticipate the reader’s reactions to characters and story details. He gets you thinking one way before the story zags back in the other direction. Lavinia sure seems to be acting strange. Is she the Lonely One, or is she the victim? The story keeps you guessing until, literally, the last sentence. And that’s quite a trick on Bradbury’s part.
Lavinia Nebbs walked alone down the midnight street, down the late summer-night silence. She saw houses with the dark windows and far away she heard a dog barking. In five minutes, she thought, I’ll be safe at home. In five minutes I’ll be phoning silly little Francine. I’ll – “
She heard the man’s voice.
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