This is another short story, Two Wrongs by Frank Westworth. Designed as a teaser to a longer novel, this one definitely serves its purpose as it ends with a cliffhanger. The protagonist, Stoner, is an ex-military man, though not by choice. He did something while in a war that would be described as a war crime. An intelligence agency officer valued his skills and methods and arranged for Stoner to work for him, all previous transgressions forgiven. All he has to do is carry out assigned contract kills for the intelligence agency. The story is designed for adult audiences; violence and sexual situation warnings precede the story.
I earlier reviewed another of the short stories and found the warnings unwarranted. When offered a free copy of this one, I thought I would take another (free) look. I found what I expected. The warnings at the front of the book were generic ones for all books in the series. This one has the gratuitous sex and violent scenes promised earlier.
Petty Officer Stretch has a hobby, other people’s wives. The husbands, deployed on month-long deployments, and sometimes longer, shouldn’t mind; they shouldn’t even know. And Stretch never got emotionally involved. Except this time. When he returned to shore leave and decided to find Rose again, he planned to propose marriage. Finding her at last in a hospital, he realized that she had been driven to a suicide attempt by her husband after she revealed to the husband that she was pregnant with Stretch’s baby. Rose was never going to be OK again. Euthanasia was the best option and Stretch was the guy to do it. But it’s murder; how could he get away with it?
In a different time and place, we have Stoner. He needs to kill someone who is trying to frame him. Same situation. A necessary kill, but it’s murder. Through an underground network that keeps track of people in trouble and who are troublemakers as well, Stoner and Stretch meet. Stoner makes the proposition; Stoner will supply an alibi for Stretch’s murder project in return for Stretch supplying an alibi for the killing Stoner will do.
These short stories, and theoretically the novels they front for, will be of interest to Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher fans. I am one of them and will read more of Westworth’s novels.