I was very lucky to find The Dark Snow and Other Mysteries by Brendan DuBois at our local independent book store. I did not recognize the author but I already have several short story collections from Crippen & Landru, so I thought it was worth the gamble. Now I have found a new author and want to read more of his book length fiction too. Not that I need any new authors on my shelves.
"Fire Burning Bright" was a selection for the Deal Me In Short Story Challenge, when I drew the 5 of Hearts.
This story is set in a rural area in a northeastern state. The protagonist, Jerry Auberg, had been an editor for various big city newspapers but had decided to move to a smaller town and purchase a weekly newspaper. By the time of this story, he has lived there five years and is beginning to feel settled in and accepted by his neighbors.
As the story opens, Jerry, who narrates the story, is going out to the scene of a fire that has just started. He reflects on the situation leading up to the fire. The town and the surrounding areas have been plagued by an arsonist, and it has had a bad effect on the town. People are suspicious and distrustful of their neighbors. The ending snuck up on me. It was very sad and affecting.
This short story was first published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in the Winter 1989 issue. It was also included in The Year's Best Mystery and Suspense Stories, 1990, edited by Edward D. Hoch.
Brendan DuBois published his first short story in 1986 in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. There is a very nice introduction in The Dark Snow and Other Mysteries where DuBois talks about writing short stories in the science fiction genre for years before he finally got one published in a mystery magazine. Since then, most of his published works have been in the mystery genre. In 1994, his first novel, Dead Sand, was published. It was the first in a series about Lewis Cole, a former Department of Defense research analyst, retired in a small coastal town in New Hampshire. He has also published standalone novels, one of which is the well known Resurrection Day, an alternative history about what happens after the Cuban Missile Crisis escalates into a nuclear war.