Fallen Angel by James Harper is a short story published in 2017. The short story is remarkably good for being so surprising while still being remarkably short. Evan and Kate begin the story at a bar where the inebriated Kate is telling Evan about the horrible nature of suicide, about how a body sounds when it descends from a high altitude and meets street pavement. She can give an authoritative account to Evan because a few hours prior such a body had made such a sound as it landed inches away from her on a pavement that she was traveling. The police ruled it suicide. Kate, being a cop, could accept this. She didn’t want a mind-wasting analysis of possibilities from Evan.
Evan wasn’t going to supply alternatives until a client appeared at his office to ask for help. Claire Henderson didn’t accept the police theory of suicide. She wanted to know who killed sister Jessica. When she visited the police, she overheard police officer Kate disparaging the notions of Evan about the possibilities of a homicide. Claire tracked down Evan, now working as a private investigator. Evan could grudgingly accept Kate’s police assessment. Claire’s appearance changed his mind. She was a double for Evan’s missing wife. Missing, lost, not found, we learn nothing more about Evan’s wife. This is not her story. Another surprise comes when Evan learns that the near double for his wife is also a double for dead sister Jessica. The reader’s mind starts to take weird paths.
The investigation is on with Evan, open to all possibilities, Kate, determined to stick with a police determination of suicide, Claire, determined that her sister’s death was a homicide and equally determined to find the murderer and a classic case of how a murder could have taken place. No one was seen entering the apartment complex. There was a doorman on duty. No one left the complex after the murder, the doorman had locked the doors before going to investigate the cause of all the pedestrian screaming. A suicide chain was in place at the window where the body exited the apartment. It was still attached and could not be reattached if a murderer had left by the window.
There were two questions. What really happened and how had it happened? There is quite a surprise ending and this is a short story worth reading to find out what the ending is. Along the way, there is snappy dialogue between investigative rivals Evan and Kate. James Harper has written a couple of novels with subtitles “An Evan Buckley Mystery.” Those that read this intriguing novel will join the ranks of his readership. I could not find this on Amazon and got it from the author’s mailing list. Two of his novels, Bad to the Bones and Bad Call are available on Amazon, Bad to the Bones is free through KU.