Deadline for a Critic

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Ridley Groendal, semiretired after a long and controversial career as performing arts critic for the New York HERALD, continues to wield his poison pen in the service of a paper in his home town of Detroit. Groendal has made a number of enemies over the years, and he has managed to revenge himself upon four people who, in his warped mind, prevented him from achieving the fame and destiny he was sure would be his. Now, in his declining years and dying from AIDS, he returns to the scene of the crime, so to speak, and in the process places himself at the mercy, or vengeance, of those he so successfully hamstrung throughout the years. In consequence, when Groendal dies suddenly, more than a few people, not the least of whom is his friend since childhood, Father Robert Koesler, are profoundly interested.

Father Koesler is fully aware of the flaws in his friend’s character. Indeed, he was intimately involved in the series of events which provoked Groendal’s lifelong campaign of vengeance against those who are now suspected of being implicated in his death. Which of the four people so grievously wronged by Groendal was able to extract retribution, or were all four acting in concert? The Detroit Police Department is quite frankly baffled; in fact, they are not even convinced that a crime was committed.

In the course of conducting the funeral mass for his friend, Father Koesler reflects upon the circumstances behind the various feuds that formed...

(The entire section is 418 words.)