Innocent is the title of a short story by Jo Michaels. Just under the title is this line: Pen Pals and Serial Killers – Story Five. If you like this story, you have more good reading to look forward to. For this story, there is an introductory part in which the narrator promises the reader a cookie or maybe two if, after reading the story, the reader is convinced the narrator is innocent. The story is short, and there are reader rewards based on judgments made. The story is not quite your grade-school activity book. No one used words like these in grade school when I went to school, but times change.
With only forty-five pages to work with, Jo Michaels had to get through a build-up, central conflict, and resolution quickly. The build-up was excellent, the conflict was promising, and I missed the point of the resolution. I left the story going, “Yeah, but why?”
Readers will not know the first name of the narrator and main character. We must accept “Miss LeBrague,” Never mind that she has five kids somewhere; she is “Miss.” Despite her complaints of complete innocence and at the risk of losing cookies, LeBrague is not entirely innocent. She is at least guilty of being a Peeping Tom. Occasional sexual high jinx of neighbors may have been nothing more than guilty pleasures had it not been for the murder she says she witnessed. The police believe she did it.
If LeBrague did it, why would she have called the police? She believes the question supports her innocence. What is notable in this story is that the cops SEEM to have approached several killings with a preconceived determination that LeBrague is guilty. How will the innocent LeBrague get out of it? Listening to her story makes it seem obvious she is innocent.
There is one determining sentence in the story that almost solves the mystery, but I had to go back and read the paragraphs a second time to make sure. I won’t reveal the place (a spoiler). My conclusion? I will read more by this author because despite the confusion I felt with this short story, I found the writing style refreshing. I read the story on a break between two inconveniently scheduled appointments, and the story improved my mood immensely. I rated this at four Amazon stars. The price was free (USD 0.00) on Amazon. It fulfills the vital task of motivating a reader (me) to read more novels by Jo Michaels.