Story A Day: “The Last Bottle in the World” by Stanley Ellin

shortstorymonth320x320Another Stanley Ellin story, one that originally appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1968 and was a finalist for the next year’s Edgar Awards. As with many of Ellin’s stories from this period, this one has a frame narrative and is set in Europe (Italy again, in this case). The story is about the last bottle of a famed vintage, the wine merchant who currently has it, and the uber-rich wine collector who simply must have it.  That would seem to be the drama here, but two other characters—the editor of a wine journal and the wife of that millionaire oenophile—are the ones who provide the real tension. The twist in this case struck me as particularly satisfying: not just a dramatic turn of plot, but a twist of character that seemed both surprising and completely realistic. Recommended. — Art Taylor