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Hidden Booty

This second short story told from Emmie’s point of view recounts the couple’s abortive trip to France. Emmie loses the money meant to finance the trip gambling and she and Harry find themselves destitute in a resort town on the north coast of France. Then Emmie learns of a gold theft aboard a French ocean liner and manages to persuade the insurers to hire Harry to find the gold during the ship’s return voyage to New York.

As Harry seems to go about the investigation in his usual lackadaisical manner, Emmie works to solve the crime herself, and at the same time make some money wagering with the other passengers on the ship’s daily run. In the end, Harry does find the gold, but it’s Emmie who names the culprits.

My original conception for this book was to use three points of view: Emmie’s, Harry’s, and that of the ship’s chief rat. Each chapter would have three versions, and the (online) reader would be randomly served one version. I would use cookies to keep track of which versions of each chapter the reader had been served. So he or she could read it a second and a third time without ever reading the same version of a chapter twice. I even worked out the mechanics for the Web pages.

But there were two hurdles to overcome. First, the three versions of each chapter would need to be synchronized in that the progressive revelation of clues needed to occur with the same timing. Second,  since each chapter needed to be written three times, I pictured them as each being fairly short. But switching voices at brief intervals seemed disruptive when reading it.

In the end, I just fine-tuned Emmie’s version and made it a short story in that series. I think it came out reasonably well, with some nice bits, such as how both of them end up being rewarded for their work, but in a back-handed sort of way. And I still have my test pages, so I might revisit the idea of multiple versions with some other piece later on.

There’s more on Hidden Booty, including its availability, at the Harry Reese Mysteries site.

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