Monday, December 24, 2012
Short Story: "The Finest of Families" by George C. Chesbro
a short story
from MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, July, 1977, pg 96
First Sentence: "Ian hadn't meant to eavesdrop; he had just entered the kitchen of the Holman's Westchester home from the outside when he overheard the beginning of the conversation."
Last Sentence: "The mad bloodlust in the pale eyes precluded any chance of recognition, of mercy."
Author: A search on this author quickly brings up a prolific writer of "detective fiction". He wrote several series and some stand-alones. This story is of the horror genre and the brief intro to it lets the reader know it isn't his first horror contribution to this particular magazine.
I really enjoyed this story which starts off quickly letting us know something is terribly wrong with the Holman family. 19-year old Ian is about to find out his family's dark secret, why he had to have an operation at birth for a dreaded mysterious hereditary disease which he will pass on to his own children and have to take care of the same way, why he has always felt strange/different from other people, why he suddenly finds out that they have other family he has never been told about and that his parents *hate* this maternal uncle. A short discussion with mom and dad ends in a promise to reveal the entire truth that weekend up at the cottage. Ian is not to be put off so easily though and sneaks out to visit this new-found uncle. Uncle Johann reluctantly divulges the family secrets to Ian, who trusts this friendly uncle more than his secretive, lying parents and is thankful to know the truth and have the knowledge to make an informed decision when his time to have children comes. All throughout this story the reader is never sure who to believe, the parents or the uncle. The parents seem too secretive; they must be telling the truth. The uncle seems too friendly; he must be lying. Which is it? Ian spies on a family member and learns the ultimate truth but should have remembered the old maxim "Curiosity killed the cat."
I'd love to read this author again! Two volumes of collected short stories have been published, I wonder if this one is included somewhere. I've just done some more research and here is a list of his short stories and what collections they appear in. This story has not been re-published in a collection as of this time.