‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ by Ray Bradbury

Bradbury, Ray 1950

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.

The selection:

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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4 thoughts on “‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ by Ray Bradbury

  1. That’s another one I haven’t read yet. For the upcoming #24in48 readathon, I’m trying to read 52 Bradbury stories. Would love some recommendations… 🙂

    • ‘Whole Town’s Sleeping’ might be my favorite.. it’s like Twin Peaks in 12 pages! “The Veldt,” “All Summer In A Day,” “And The Rock Cried Out…” Good stuff!

      So how long do you get to read 52?

      • Cool. Thanks for the recs – Some of which were already on my list. :). I’m going to read the 52 stories in 48 hours. Thankfully, RB didn’t write too many “long” short stories…

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