Final Assignment (Promise Falls #1.5), by Linwood Barclay

Five stars

In a wonderful short story that expands on his new series, Barclay brings the reader back to Promise Falls, examining events within the town from a new perspective, using new and interesting characters. Cal Weaver was once a member of the Promise Falls Police Force, but left for a time, only recently returning. Now, acting as PI, he is forced to handle those cases that are not yet at the level of legal transgressions. Case in point, the suspension of young Chandler Carson, who wrote a highly descriptive short story about killing a friend. While Weaver tries to extricate himself from the banality of this, he is summoned to help another family whose son has gone missing. Investigating this case, something in which he sees merit, Weaver discovers that sometimes literature has a way of playing out in reality. What started as a story about free expression turns into something far deeper and more troubling. Is Chandler guilty of murdering his friend over a girl, or is there more to the story that Weaver has yet to uncover? Barclay allows the story to unravel so effectively that he needs few pages to bring it to life and offers the reader a treat in under an hour.

Having been a long-time fan of Linwood Barclay, I thought I would take some time to fly through one of his short stories. Having been enthralled with BROKEN PROMISES, I was sure that this shorter tale would captivate me just as much. I was not disappointed, as the town fleshes itself out, with new and interesting characters ready to offer their own angle to life in a smaller city. The story was succinct and the development flowed nicely. I could see Barclay building up to a grand finale, only to have everything come crashing down in the end. Stellar work all around.

Kudos Mr. Barclay for this lovely addition to the series. i cannot wait to see what else befalls Promise Falls in the coming months.