The Execution of the Axe Girl by J.G. Stirling might be a short story prequel to a longer novel or it might be the first in a series of equally short novels (41 pages). Just after the copyright, there is a section called the “The Axers Series.” Whether the titles listed are all equally short or whether they have all been published, I did not bother to find out. That failure to investigate may give a clue as to what I thought of this short story, one I downloaded through Kindle Unlimited (KU).
Special agent Bucky Greyson Smith did not do well in an incident at a school where a mad bomber (is there any other kind?) detonated a device killing several children. Although exonerated by the government for doing anything wrong, he has become disgusted with work and wants to retire. Told to take a few days off, he returns to his apartment only to be visited by Alexandria Strong. She knocks on his door and offers him a chance at a private investigation job finding her daughter Carla Inwood. She seems to possess a lot of information about Bucky, such as the part where he is no longer a federal agent.
Predictably, Bucky takes the case and even pursues leads with Alexandria at his side. Although no longer with federal law enforcement, it seems he can call on their resources through an old boy network. (Note: In the real world, this is, for the most part, illegal). Alexandria eventually informs Bucky that Carla is some sort of foil in a plot to kill a Senator. As Bucky tries to activate his old boy network, we find that he has not retired and his boss tells him to stand down, continue his vacation, and stop conducting illegal investigations. This does not slow Bucky down.
What slows down the reader is the telling of this tale. It is fact after fact; this happened and then this happened. And most of it was done by “I.” I cannot recall a story that relied so much on the first person singular pronoun. In chapter “A Close Encounter” Bucky is almost run off the road and killed. There is no connection between this chapter and the rest of the story. I would not have missed a thing if the chapter was deleted. Then I found out she was later decapitated by her own bedroom window, still no connection. Even later I learned Carla was at the bedroom window when Jennifer (previous driver) was decapitated. I still had a problem with the connection. Why would Carla do this? When Carla executed Ron (Bucky’s friend) by electric chair, I thought there might be some sort of personal vendetta motive. Nope, just practice for the main event, the one to kill the Senator.
And then the omniscient Alexandria reveals to Bucky that Carla is a member of a super-secret bunch of assassins that has been around for centuries. They do necessary work that governments and lesser beings can’t do. Like, assassinate Lincoln and Kennedy. It was good to get that mystery out of the way. Now they just must stop Carla. Omniscient Alexandria is a good ally to have.
Will they stop Carla? Will the Senator die? Will Bucky keep his job? Will Bucky and Alexandria hook up? Will I be able to slog through this tremendously boring short story? Only the last question can be answered and not be a spoiler. I made it. There is some exciting content in this novel but the way of presentation is mind-numbingly tedious.