In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.
Earlier this year, in its July/August 2019 issue, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine published B.K. Stevens’ “The Tourist”—the last of her stories for the magazine, appearing nearly two years after her death in August 2017. I’ll admit that I didn’t know it was her final AHMM story at the time the issue arrived. Bonnie had become even more prolific in recent years, it seemed; the magazine had several of her stories in the pipeline when she died; and I’d grown accustomed—irrationally, of course—to thinking that we readers would somehow keep enjoying more of Bonnie’s great stories ahead. It’s still hard to believe that this one marks an end.
But while shrouded with sadness because of its place in her career, “The Tourist” is itself a joy to read—crisply characterized, precisely plotted, and distinguished by Bonnie’s always fine prose.
Just over two years have passed since I took over curating the First Two Pages blog series, and I’m grateful now for the opportunity to analyze the first pages of Bonnie’s final story for the blog that she herself founded. I appreciate Bonnie’s husband and daughters—Solomon Stevens, Rachel Stevens, and Sarah Gershone—asking me to carry forward the blog series and giving me permission to include “The Tourist” here.
Thanks go out as well to Linda Landrigan and Jackie Sherbow at AHMM for their efforts to celebrate “The Tourist.” Not only have they posted the complete story for free online at AHMM‘s website—read it here to find out what happens beyond those first two pages—but they’ve also offered to mail out some copies of the July/August 2019 issue to interested readers too. Just leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be entered to win one of those copies—and any comment is welcome: your own thoughts on “The Tourist,” a shout-out for another of Bonnie’s stories that stood out as a favorite, or even a memory of Bonnie herself.
For those of you who don’t know Bonnie, do check out her website at www.bkstevensmysteries.com for information on her story collection Her Infinite Variety: Tales of Women and Crime, her novel Interpretation of Murder, and her YA novel Fighting Chance.
This is the final First Two Pages entry of 2019. Thanks to everyone who follows the series, and best wishes for the holidays and for a great new year ahead.
Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.The-Tourist-1
This thoughtful consideration of Bonnie’s wonderful story is lovely, Art! (She was so talented *and* so kind.) Thank you.
What a great post, Art! After reading Bonnie’s stories in AHMM for 20 years, I was fortunate enough to meet her and her husband in 2010 at the Deadly Ink Mystery Conference in NJ. She was so sweet and gracious that we immediately began a friendship that lasted until her passing. She was a great mentor to me and a great friend who I miss very much. Your description of “The Tourist” with crisp characters and precise plotting could accurately apply to many of her stories. She was so consistent in her work that you just knew you were in for a treat whenever her name appeared in the table of contents. Some other favorites of mine are: “True Confession” May 1989, “Death on a Diet” May 2006, “A Joy Forever” Mar 2015, and “One-Day Pass” May/June 2018.
Thanks for the great memories here, Bob–and for adding some of her other fine stories to the list.
Great story, I’m sorry there won’t be more from this author. Charles came right into the room with me as did her characters in ‘The Last Blue Glass.’
Looking forward to reading and learning more about good writing on ‘The First Two Pages.’ THANK YOU for keeping this going!
Thanks for the kind comments, Lisbeth–glad you enjoyed the story! It’s a winner, no doubt about it. And thanks for kind words on The First Two Pages too–a labor of love, and glad to be carrying it on.
This piece is now linked to our SMFS blog.
2017 was such an absolute horrible year. I lost my Mom in January, my wife in December, Bonnie passed as did other folks, and more. Thank you for keeping this going and honoring her again today with this post. Her legacy continues to live on.
Such loss in recent years, Kevin. Thinking about you here at the holidays—and so many others who are missing loved ones. (My first Christmas without my dad—and feeling the absence in many ways.)
Beyond a doubt, one of Bonnie’s best stories. Thank you for promoting it again. Wonder if people realize it could be nominated for awards this year —- or if they recall she won an Anthony just after her death. Still one of the best short story mystery writers of our time. Thanks for keeping her column going … also like your answer to Dash.
I started to mention that myself, Debra, but then saw that the Agatha guidelines specifically mention “a living author,” so unfortunately not eligible for that award. I’m not sure about other awards–but where eligible, this story definitely has my vote, yes!
And thanks for kind words, both on the series and on the post about Dash. 🙂
Amazing story! (Okay, really scary, too.). Thank you.
It’s a tense one, for sure! I love the twists at the end.