It’s my belief that, in a way, every story is a mystery. In a romance the mystery is, “How will our romantic leads end up together?” In an adventure the mystery is, “How will the hero get out of this alive?” In general we keep reading because we want to know how that mystery is going to be resolved.
book short story novelette Bye Bye Baby is a little different. In Bye Bye Baby the mystery is “Which one of these mysteries is real?” Bye Bye Baby is a mystery about mysteries.
When the story opens like a fairly standard mystery story: a police officer is called upon to investigate the disappearance of a young boy. Only it quickly becomes apparent that the real issue at hand isn’t the missing boy at all. Or is it?
This is a book with twists and turns out the wazoo, and I don’t want to spoil a single one of them for you. In fact there are so many twists that the narrative almost begins to feel cluttered. Almost. Guthrie does a fantastic job of keeping his narrative threads straight, meaning that while the mystery itself it confusing, the story is perfectly clear.
Guthrie’s style is simple and understated. Slightly too understated for my tastes actually, but not so much that it detracted from my enjoyment of the story. He delivers his story almost completely ungarnished, inviting us to savour the natural flavours within.
But the characters are what make this book truly remarkable. They are the glue that holds the story together. The mystery by itself with all of its improbable complexities might appear contrived and stale if not for the strikingly believable characters that inhabit it. This is not a long story, and there are a number of players that take the stage for mere moments before being whisked away again by the next plot point, but somehow none of them feel contrived or flat in any way. They all shine through as believable and complete people whose part in the story is only a fragment of a larger more complete life.
All in all Bye Bye Baby grabbed me from the start and didn’t let go. It managed the trick of being both cerebral and intense, which is why I am awarding it [&] out of [%] stars.
You can (and should) buy it here for the paltry price of one dollar.