‘The Skull’ by Philip K. Dick

Dick, Philip K. 1953

The Skull by Philp K. Dick, 1953

The magic trick:

Building suspense through the protagonist’s ignorance

Limited third-person narration is a great way to build suspense in a story. Case in point: “The Skull.” The reader takes the story in through Conger’s perspective, which would be fine except that our man Conger doesn’t have a clue about much of what is going on around him. As a result, we the reader is left trying to solve the mystery one step at a time along with our protagonist. And that’s quite a trick on Dick’s part.

The selection:

Conger sighed. His lips twisted. “All right,” he said. “Leave that out. Get to the point. Who do you want me to kill?”

The Speaker smiled. “All in proper sequence,” he said softly.