A Wide and Capable Revenge

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

First, a shooting incident resulted in the amputation of NoraCallum’s left leg; then her feckless husband filed for divorce,leaving Nora to raise their young daughter alone. Nora persevered,only to be assigned to the tender mercies of Raymond “Smilin’ Ray”Melchior. Melchior dislikes minorities, women, and anyone whomight hinder his continued quest for power and influence. SinceNora is inclined to cut more than a few bureaucratic corners inpursuit of justice and is anything but deferential, Melchior is aconstant irritation.

Nora’s newest case involves the seemingly senseless shooting ofa young Hispanic American mother of three in the confessional ofChicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. Nora and her African Americanpartner, Art, Campbell, discover a link between their case and themurder of a Russian emigre who complained that someone wished himdead. The whole affair assumes bizarre dimensions when theemigre’s body is hung from a hook in the city morgue by person orpersons unknown. Nora and Art are quite bemused, untilhappenstance reveals that they must seek enlightenment in avengeance deferred from the siege of Leningrad during World WarII.

A WIDE AND CAPABLE REVENGE reflects the author’s previousexperience with the format of the short story, and that is to thegood. Still, recent legislation to the contrary, Nora Callum’semployment as a street detective in an urban setting does requirea substantial suspension of disbelief. Moreover, despite thesuccess of Elizabeth Linington (Dell Shannon), those who attemptcross-gender literary characterization find themselves faced withdaunting challenges. McCall must needs consider this fact andcompensate accordingly in future volumes about Nora Callum.