This week I drew the Queen of Spades, which led me to another story from 2nd Culprit: A Crime Writers' Annual, an anthology edited by Liza Cody and Michael Z. Lewin. This week's story was written by Reginald Hill (1936 - 2012), the author of the Dalziel and Pascoe mystery series, the Joe Sixsmith series, and many standalone novels, some written under the pseudonym Patrick Ruell. This story was first published in 1993 in this anthology.
"True Thomas" is not really a mystery story. There are characters who are policemen or lawyers or criminals, there is a crime, and there is a body. But there is no crime solving. The story really poses the questions: How honest can we be in our daily life? When is honesty more hurtful than helpful?
The story is told in an interesting way, using the ballad of True Thomas as the basis of a wager between the defence counsel and DI Tom Tyler. In literature, True Thomas, also known as Thomas the Rhymer, was carried off by the "Queen of Elfland" and returns unable to tell a lie. Tyler is upbraiding Sylvie Morphet (who he calls "Miss bloody Muffet", although not to her face) for telling lies and twisting the truth to defend her client, who has been set free. She challenges him to spend a 24 hour period telling only the truth.
Tyler thinks this will be a fairly easy bet that he can win, but in the next 24 hours he gets himself in trouble with his wife, his in-laws, and at work. Although not really a humorous story, this is a story that entertains and provides the reader with much to ponder.
Every other week I draw a random card to determine what short story I will read for the Deal Me In Short Story challenge. My list of short stories is here. Jay at Bibliophilopolis hosts the challenge.